Making Space For Black Women in the Beauty Industry

  • November 7, 2022

  • Eyes4Research

As one of the most lucrative sectors in the business landscape, the U.S. beauty industry is estimated to be worth $49 billion in 2022. With so much money in play and a constant overabundance of products on shelves, Black women have a historically difficult experience finding products to suit their needs. This isn’t due to a lack of spending power, however. According to a recent study by McKinsey, the Black female audience spent $6.6 billion on beauty products in 2021, making up about 11 percent of the entire U.S. beauty market. For scale, the total Black audience representation in the United States is 15 percent. If there is an industry that is wide open for opportunities to capture the Black female audience, it is the beauty space. 

On average, Black women report a higher rate of dissatisfaction with makeup, skincare, and hair care products than the non-Black audience. Retail deserts in predominantly minority audience neighborhoods also mean that Black women have to travel further to find the products that have earned their loyalty. These disparities have led Black entrepreneurs to take matters into their own hands and launch their own beauty brands, specifically crafted for the Black female audience. Beauty trailblazer Eunice Johnson launched Fashion Fair cosmetics in 1973, offering Black women options in makeup that they had never had before. The cosmetics, and the associated advertisements in Ebony and Jet magazines, helped celebrate the beauty of the Black female audience in a way that had not been done before. The lack of true representation in advertising as a whole continues to be a problem across all industries. 

Another aspect that has continued to keep the scope of beauty products for the Black female audience so limited is the lack of top executives at major beauty companies. The previously mentioned report from McKinsey found that only 2.5 percent of employees at top beauty companies are Black. The same study took a quick snapshot of the C-suite at Revlon USA and found that only 5 percent of the employees at the director level and above are Black. This has led more Black entrepreneurs to launch their own brands, often succeeding in the face of more challenging headwinds than their white counterparts when it comes to raising capital for their companies. Recently, the market has exploded with product lines from celebrities, like Iman and Rihanna. Rihanna’s line, Fenty Beauty, launched in 2017, boasts 40 different shades of foundation, a benchmark that was quickly adopted by Dior and Revlon, in order to try and grab their own share of the Black female audience who had been there the entire time, just waiting for their turn to be seen.

The social upheaval of the summer of 2020 found many companies under the spotlight for their lack of representation in their top roles, and retailers were held to account for the dearth of Black-owned products on their shelves.  15% Pledge, founded by fashion designer Aurora James, aims to get retailers to dedicate 15 percent of their shelf space to Black audience-owned brands. Companies like Target and beauty giant Sephora were among the first to commit to supporting Black-owned product lines. 
Read more about the beauty industry on the Eyes4Research blog. Eyes4Research also has everything you need to collect high-quality insights from consumers in the beauty space. Our panels are comprised of B2B, B2C, and specialty audiences ready to participate in your next research project. Learn more about our specialty panels here.