Inclusive Beauty Summit: 5 Key Takeaways
At the virtual Inclusive Beauty summit (December 8-9), indies along with major names like P&G and Avon explored how brands can expand their market share by being more equitable. Takeaways included underpinning access for underserved founders with support, and partnering with community experts.
- Think Beyond Current Brand Fans: Three years after Rihanna’s “beauty for all” brand Fenty Beauty launched to massive success, many brands are still falling short on serving multicultural consumers. “Brands don’t focus on who their consumer could be, just who their consumer is [currently],” said Shelby Ogan, product development manager for US skincare brand Kate Somerville.
The issue is prevalent even in markets with large non-white populations. Global beauty business Avon recently launched a darker colour palette in Brazil, home to the world’s second-largest Black population. “It’s 2020 – this should have happened before,” acknowledged Anna Chokina, Avon’s vice-president of global colour cosmetics. The campaign Essa é Minha Cor (This Is My Colour) promotes the range. Avon’s Brazilian arm concurrently pledged that 50% of entry-level hires will be Black starting in 2021, and 30% of leadership will be Black by 2030.
See also Backlash Against Eurocentric Beauty Ideals in Advancing Anti-Racism.
- Open Doors for Diverse Founders: Beauty businesses are moving to diversify the industry with initiatives like the business grants from cult US brand Glossier, which pair funding with mentoring for Black founders. “The big guys can open doors so we can get there a little faster,” said Mabel Frías, the Afro-Latina co-founder of US-based Luna Magic – one of 16 Glossier grantees. “’Backed by Glossier’ is doing a lot for our mainstream credibility.”
This year, small US accelerator Rare Beauty Brands partnered with American beauty retailer Ulta Beauty and Washington, DC-based non-profit Black Girl Ventures to launch what’s intended as an annual pitch competition for Black and brown female beauty founders. Ulta will sell products from the recently announced winner – vegan line Lamik Beauty – in 2021.
See also Unlocking Access, part of our Community + Commerce Spotlight series.
- Underpin Access With Support: Sephora, the first major retailer to sign the 15 Percent Pledge (committing 15% of shelf space to Black-owned brands), concurrently repurposed its accelerator programme to focus on founders of colour. The first cohort will be announced this week. The aim is not only to broaden access for these brands, but also to set them up for success, said George-Axelle Broussillon Matschinga, Sephora’s vice-president of diversity and inclusion.
“You can’t just put any brand on a shelf and expect it to succeed,” said Elena Severin, director of brand partnerships at clean beauty retailer The Detox Market, which nurtures all of the small brands it stocks. The company has pledged that 20% of brands launching on the platform will be BIPOC-led – a commitment that Severin said has revealed “a lot of [inventory] voids we didn’t know were there”.
- Partner With Community-Centred Experts: American brand-expo store B8ta reached out to NY-based Bom (Black-Owned Market), which hosts pop-ups and sells subscription boxes featuring Black beauty brands, to curate a section of B8ta’s Hudson Yards (NYC) mall store. Bom founder Michelle Dalzon said its section – selling 15-20 Black brands – has outperformed in the space since launching two months ago. “Given a platform, Black brands can shine, and oftentimes outshine,” she noted.
- Reach for Resonance: Creating relevant products for diverse consumers – delivering benefits that matter and also delight – must be a priority, said P&G Beauty’s Lela Coffey, brand director for multicultural marketing. But equally important and especially challenging for brands is resonance, she said. “Are you showing up in places that show you are in support of [multicultural consumers]?” she asked. “And is it a multipronged effort that is sustainable over time?” Coffey said brands tend to move in and out of the resonance phase, hurting brand equity.