New research from Mintel reveals that shampoo sales among Black consumers are expected to grow 7.3% to reach an estimated $473 million in 2017, the largest percent growth seen in the category in the last five years. What’s more, Mintel’s Black Haircare US 2017 report states that between 2015-17, Black consumer expenditure of shampoo increased 13% — the most growth seen among all hair care segments in that time period — to capture an estimated 19% share of the market.
Black consumers wearing their hair naturally is no longer an emerging trend, rather the way forward. As Black consumers, particularly women, transition from using relaxers to going chemical free and wearing natural hair, companies should cater to their hair texture, challenges, and goals, as well as offer solutions that help keep hair healthy and styled as desired. More extensive education on what ingredients are and are not hair-healthy could offer great value to consumers on the hunt for product nirvana.
When it comes to conditioner, sales hold an estimated 19% of the market in 2017 and are expected to grow 3.5% this year to reach an estimated $491 million. Meanwhile, styling product sales (30% market share) remain stagnant with a meager 0.4% growth in 2017, according to the report.
The report also reveals that with half (50%) of Black consumers washing their hair once a week or a few times a month, “wash day,” or time set aside to complete basic maintenance, is routine for many. In fact, Black consumers spend an average of 63.1 minutes on basic hair maintenance on “wash day,” compared to just 21.2 minutes if and when they style their hair on an average day. What’s more, while Black consumers overall are more likely (49%) to use just one to two products when washing and styling their hair, Black women, regardless of hairstyle, seem to have a product-focused regimen as more than half (52%) say they use three to four hair care products.
“Shampoo is no longer a basic product used merely for cleansing, but rather the foundation for establishing healthy hair, all the way through styling,” says Toya Mitchell, multicultural analyst at Mintel. “We predict shampoo sales to increase, signaling that the creation of regimen product lines, particularly those with formulations for specific hair care issues and goals, will continue to resonate among Black consumers.”
On the other hand, conditioner use, especially among Black consumers with natural hair, is multifunctional, serving as a conditioning rinse as well as a styling product. However, while shampoo and conditioner set the foundation, styling products create the look, which for many consumers drives purchase of regimen-focused products, Mitchell adds.
Relaxer sales plummet
With natural hair becoming the new normal, relaxer sales continue to fall. In fact, sales of relaxers in the Black hair care market have plummeted 36.6% between 2012-17 to reach $525 million. What’s more, nearly four in five (79%) consumers have worn a natural hairstyle in the past year compared to just over one-quarter (28%) who say they have worn their hair in a relaxed style, including 36% of women. However, while Black women may be parting ways with relaxers, they still enjoy wearing their hair straight. In fact, more than one-third (36%) of Black women wear their hair in a straight style by applying heat to their natural hair, according to Mintel.
“Wearing relaxer-free, natural hair is the norm for most Black consumers, especially among young, trendy consumers who are adopting a variety of styles appropriate for work and play,” Mitchell says. “Interest in chemical-free hair, a desire for healthy hair and new methods of achieving straight hairstyles are rendering relaxers unnecessary for many consumers.”
As Black consumers abandon relaxers, products that help them achieve a desired look without the time commitment or skill will be of greater value, she explains.
Maintaining healthy hair is a priority: two in five (40%) Black consumers say they avoid unhealthy hair care products and three in 10 (29%) avoid unhealthy hair styling techniques. Hair care product performance is paramount for Black consumers as 43% agree they prefer to use products that will perform as expected. Many also prefer to use brands that are created for their specific styling needs as 41% prefer to use brands for Black hair, especially among those who wear their hair natural with heat (54%) and without (51%).
When it comes to inspiration for specific hairstyles, Black consumers overall are most likely to say friends and family (57%) are their greatest hair influence. However, it seems that women are more likely to look to advertising, while men trust the opinions of others. Over half (52%) of women are influenced by editorials they read in Black consumer-targeted magazines, compared to 38% of men. What’s more, one-third (33%) of women look to brand websites, compared to just 25% of men. Meanwhile, Black men are more likely to look to celebrity hairstylists they follow (18% vs. 11% women), according to Mintel.
“Black consumers are abandoning products that contain certain chemicals, resulting in many gravitating toward hair care products and brands formulated specifically for Black hair,” Mitchell explains.
These brands address consumers’ maintenance needs by hair texture and styling choice. As Black consumers, particularly women, transition from using relaxers to going chemical free and wearing natural hair, companies should cater to their hair texture, challenges, and goals, as well as offer solutions that help keep hair healthy and styled as desired. More extensive education on what ingredients are and are not hair-healthy could offer great value to consumers on the hunt for product nirvana, she adds.
Spotlight on styling
As regimen-focused product lines and styling products are enjoying the spotlight, while relaxers are put back on the shelf, Mintel estimates that consumer expenditure on Black hair care in 2017 will total $2.54 billion, falling just 0.4% from the prior year.
“Black consumers wearing their hair naturally is no longer an emerging trend, rather the way forward,” Mitchell says.
While the total hair care market among Black consumers is flat, regimen-focused product lines are growing in relevance and most importantly sales, driving double-digit growth. As Black-consumer-targeted brands push a regimen-focused message to increase sales among new and loyal users, they may encroach upon mainstream brands that are using marketing strategies and tactics to show Black consumers that their needs, and dollars, are valued, she says