Beauty without Boundaries: How ‘multicultural’ product lines are reshaping the entire industry

By Deanna Utroske contact

- Last updated on GMT

Richelieu Dennis of Sundial Brands (left to Right); Susan Akkad of Estée Lauder; Carlotta Jacobson, president of CEW; and Nicole Fourgoux of L’Oréal (picture courtesy of Patricia Willis Photography)
Richelieu Dennis of Sundial Brands (left to Right); Susan Akkad of Estée Lauder; Carlotta Jacobson, president of CEW; and Nicole Fourgoux of L’Oréal (picture courtesy of Patricia Willis Photography)
At this week’s CEW Beauty Insider event in New York City, a panel of multicultural beauty market leaders discussed the transition to a psychographic and needs-based cosmetics and personal care business.

Lifestyles, beauty preferences, and individual needs influence consumer choices now much more directly than simple demographics or regional conventions do. And the flourishing multicultural beauty market has a lot to do with this shift.

Who is she?

As panelists Susan Akkad, senior vice president of Local & Cultural Platforms and Corporate Innovation for The Estée Lauder Companies; Richelieu Dennis, founder and CEO of Sundial Brands; and Nicole Fourgoux, general manager of the Multi-Cultural Beauty Division at L'Oréal USA, emphasized, the multicultural consumer is not one consumer or one consumer group.

The default term comprises “a series of populations,” ​says Akkad. And rather than trying to sketch out a single multicultural consumer persona, it’s more useful to ask “what are the shared values, shared demands, and shared needs” ​of today’s beauty consumers, explains Fourgoux.

She went on to clarify that while ‘multicultural’ is a term of art for the time being, it isn’t consumer facing language and isn’t something she’d like to see on store shelves.  

Minority interest

Now is the time for brands serving the general population to evolve.  Within three years, the Census Bureau projects that fewer than half of US births will be ‘caucasian.’ “As the population continues to shift, beauty brands need to develop new products and campaigns to satisfy the unmet needs of the diverse beauty consumer,” ​says Carlotta Jacobson, president of CEW.

“We’re thrilled to bring together three beauty thought-leaders to explore this important topic and give CEW members actionable insights for staying competitive in the growing multicultural marketplace,” ​she affirms.  

Channeling a diverse market

Different channels in the marketplace have necessarily different approaches to serving consumers.

“Brands have been built without the opportunity for retail,” ​says Dennis, speaking to the experience of the mass market. He points to Target as the retailer that “has set the bar” ​for multicultural beauty-at-mass by being the first to help scale brands and effectively grow their businesses with consumers.

In prestige, where Akkad emphasizes that the brand is the retailer, beauty counter advisors need to have “a huge amount of knowledge” ​to satisfy multicultural consumers. Accordingly, companies like Estée Lauder are reshaping the way that product and brand stories are being told, she says. Adding that by ensuring “beauty advisors reflect their community” ​and are tuned into consumer aspirations and pain points they can deliver the right solution—a foundation matching tutorial, perhaps—to the right consumer at the right time.

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