African Hair Care Behaviour, Product Formulation, and
The rise of the 'chemophobe' consumer.
Kitchen more creative than company lab.
Online transforms expectations.
African consumers worldwide (Sub-Saharan Africa, the
Americas and Europe) share a strongly held conviction that they have
not been well served by the mainstream haircare industry.
They (i.e., people with African type hair) feel they have been
ignored - and thus underserved
- by an industry developed to meet
Caucasian haircare needs. This matters because their numbers are
: the many millions of first generation
consumers in sub-Saharan Africa, people of African descent and the multicultural populations
in the Americas and Europe.
Necessity being the mother of invention, dissatisfaction has created many
believers in, and formulators of, traditional and home made
products. For example, leading ethnic hair care experts in Canada argue
that, in terms of innovation at least, corporations now lag behind
consumers. The kitchen is proving more creative
than the company
laboratory. A number of these mixes now provides the inspiration for own
brand and product lines for specialist supply stores and salons, the
to the wider market.
Consumer behaviour is also undergoing changes. The rise of the
in African haircare is having a profound impact on a market
traditionally dominated by chemicals
. This development is here
to stay because it is underpinned by a deep worldwide consumer shift away
from chemicals in personal care, combined with rejection of
long-established chemical relaxers. The era of the
consumer has arrived.
No one is arguing that relaxing
will be eliminated any time soon, but
consumer preferences will force change on products formulated to
control/manage curls, and on hair straighteners – all with high levels of
chemicals. There are interesting implications
here for the mega brands
whose sales are mainly in the chemical relaxer category. The value of the
relaxer market explains why many companies ignored consumers' other
haircare needs for so long.
Online is facilitating change at each and every level of this haircare market.
The online has created a new bloc of power brokers
or “go to”
people, who are consulted for information on products and hair fashions.
Online tutorials bring expertise and know-how
within the reach of
millions of women and transform their expectations
Premium and niche brands are also the major beneficiaries from direct
channel as an entry point to this fast growing growing