Inequality in the Black Beauty and Skincare Markets: What are the Solutions?

By: Jennifer Magdalene

The advent of inclusive beauty and skincare brands like Fenty Beauty and Raw Beauty heralded an age of change; one in which POCs could finally walk into a beauty store, find their perfect foundation shade, and purchase shadows, highlighters, and other products that were right for their skin tone. However, there is no doubt that bit inequities continue to plague the beauty industry. For instance, Black brands make up only 2.5% of the revenue made in this sector, despite accounting for 11.1% of total spending—as reported recently by McKinsey. What are the major inequality issues in the industry, and how can they be overcome?

Inequities are Sizable

The key to beauty and skin care involves finding bespoke solutions for skin needs and wants. People of color need access to and information regarding how to solve common skin conditions such as pigmentary disorders, the incidence of keloids, o acne and psoriasis. Yet McKinsey reports that Black consumers are three times as likely to be disappointed by the options they have for skincare and beauty. Black consumers show a great interest in Black beauty brands (as they understand these brands are likely to understand their ski needs). However, only 4% to 7% of brands carried in typical beauty and skincare stores are Black. Moreover, a maximum of just 5% of employees working in the industry in the US are Black. Black brands raise a lower median in venture capital, despite the fact that their median revenue is almost 90 times higher than the amounts returned by non-Black beauty brands. Clearly, there is a big gap between demand and supply— as well as a lost $2.6 billion opportunity lost. How can this gap be filled so that both Black businesses and consumers can gain benefits?

What is the Road to More Equality in Skincare and Beauty?

To create true equity in this industry, issues must be approached with a multifaceted strategy. The latter includes better store placement, so that Black consumers are better able to access their chosen products. Combined with this, better training is required, so that those attending the public are aware of products and their uses. The number of Black beauty products also needs to be raised, says McKinsey, at least until it reaches parity with Black representation in the population. The organization, Fifteen Percent Pledge, is asking all retailers to fill at least 15% of their shelves with products by Black-owned businesses. The percentage of Black employees should also be increased and they should be hired in positions that influence the placement and reach of products (for instance, in brand management, store operations, and marketing). Finally, private equity firms need to be encouraged to invest in at least 500 Black beauty brands. It isn’t just about funding; Black businesses can also benefit from receiving advice, networking opportunities, and space to innovate.

The skincare and beauty market has made some advances over the years with respect to Black products. However, clear inequities exist and supply does not reflect the true demand. To remedy the situation and increment the revenue for the industry by billions of dollars, inequity needs to be approached with a multifaceted strategy that targets better placement, employment, and investment.

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