Beyonce’s New Hair Care Line Enters a Market Craving Disruption


Following a series of Instagram teases dating to May, Beyoncé officially launched her self-funded hair-care line Cécred (pronounced like “sacred”) on Feb. 20.

This isn’t the megastar’s first foray into beauty and fashion. She introduced ready-to-wear line House of Deréon with her mother in 2006, Ivy Park athleisure in 2016, and several fragrances of which the latest, an eau de parfum called Cé Noir, dropped late last year.

But even a rabid fanbase couldn’t keep the clothing lines afloat — Deréon was discontinued in 2012, and the Ivy Park collaboration with Adidas AG ended in 2023, with the Wall Street Journal reporting lacklustre sales.

Beauty may be a different beast. The fragmented nature of the market for hair care products directed at Black women theoretically gives entrepreneurs an opening.

A Chance to Be on Top

According to a recent Nielsen report, Black consumers in 2022 spent $2.3 billion on hair, while in 2023 they spent $9.4 billion on beauty products overall. Black consumers are responsible for 11 percent of all spending on beauty products, but Black-owned brands accounted for just 2.5 percent of revenue, according to a 2022 McKinsey & Co. study entitled “Black Representation in the Beauty Industry.” Significantly, 95 percent of respondents in the survey said they would consider switching from their current brand; 57 percent said they would intentionally refer Black-owned brands to a friend.

The market is “craving disruption,” says Megan Cox, CEO of Genie Supply, a lab and manufacturing operation that helps entrepreneurs in the beauty industry scale. “We receive so many inquiries for this area, but the amount of capital needed to successfully launch a hair care brand is large.”

She estimates that a small, self-funded entity needs at least $50,000 to $100,000 worth of investment per product to bootstrap a hair care brand. “Given the numbers, celebrity brands and those with major backings have a much better chance of getting a full line out the door.”

According to Nielsen, celebrity-founded brands hit $1.1 billion in sales for the first time last year: Flawless by Gabrielle Union was launched in 2017 by the actress and her longtime hairstylist Larry Sims. Tracee Ellis Ross entered the curl game in 2019 with Pattern. MTV-VJ-turned-actress La La Anthony introduced her rice water-infused Inala line in 2022. With a focus on health, accessibility and sustainability, actress Tia Mowry launched the 4U by Tia hair care line last year.

Cox points to a few precedents: Jessica Alba has taken a significant market share of baby care with Honest Beauty; likewise Rihanna in makeup with Fenty Beauty. “Now Beyoncé may do the same in the curly sub-segment of hair,” she says.

With 32 Grammys and almost 320 million Instagram followers, Beyoncé is the biggest name to hit the beauty market. And Cécred may seem more organic to the Beyhive because of her history in the space. Beyoncé has worn weaves, wigs, braids and a variety of styles in between. Her mother Tina Knowles is a former hair stylist and salon owner where a young Beyoncé swept hair and will serve as vice chairwoman of the brand.

“As a Black founder, it was important for me to concentrate on where I saw the greatest need for healthy hair care and to place scientific innovation and product performance above all else,” she says in a brand statement. Her mother adds: “I have personally witnessed how these products have stopped breakage in its tracks.”

Inspired by hair rituals from around the world, the line’s Foundation Collection consists of eight products that use a variety of oils, butters, plant-based extracts and fermented rice water. Also included in the line is a patent-pending bioactive keratin ferment made with a wool protein that mimics keratin in human hair and uses a prebiotic ferment for scalp health. All in all, the products promise to cleanse, hydrate and repair.

The brand used diverse and inclusive subjects — men and women, with straight and coily textures. Its shampoo, conditioner, treatment mask, sealing lotion and hair oil, all with notes of bergamot, neroli, jasmine and sandalwood, start from $20.

A few mass and premium brands have begun to belatedly participate in the coily renaissance. Redken introduced All Soft Mega Curls in 2018 because of demand from clients embracing natural textures. Kerastase, Oribe and Christophe Robin soon followed. In mid-April, Aveda is launching its Be Curly Advanced collection.

“We know that textured hair, kinks, coils and curls were not part of the conversation when it came to beauty,” Mowry says. “We never felt heard, seen or valued in this particular space.”

Who’s Already Catering To the Market

Some of the most successful Black entrepreneurs in the textured hair care market are not famous, however. Shoppers are more discerning and increasingly considering a brand’s quality and authenticity. A celebrity’s backing doesn’t matter to a majority of female shoppers, according to a 2023 Bloomberg Intelligence survey of 650 cosmetics and skincare users.

Cox likewise cautions that celebrity brands may seem like they have unlimited resources, but they tend to be “slightly more generalised in their approach and so they don’t always land quite as well with consumers.”

Famous or not, products geared toward specific uses have had the most success. Maya Smith, a licensed cosmetologist, hair stylist and curl expert, co-founded the Doux in 2012. Her line of products is multifunctional, streamlining the routine for the woman who, for example, wants to wear her hair natural on Monday but go straight on Tuesday.

“It was a time when the natural-hair movement was gaining significant traction and various brands were emerging, each focusing on catering to curly hair needs,” Smith recalls. “However, during this surge, there was a noticeable gap in the market — none of the existing brands adequately addressed the needs of individuals with textured hair who preferred versatility, embracing both straight and curly.”

Smith scraped together an initial $5,000 investment for the Doux from her work as a stylist, then the first six years of revenue went directly back into the business. Today, it’s a multimillion-dollar company whose products are on the shelves at Target, Walmart, Walgreens, Sally Beauty, CVS and other mass retailers.

Monique and Melvin Rodriguez, who founded Mielle Organics in 2014, landed a nine-figure investment in 2021 from private equity firm Berkshire Partners LLC, a megadeal for a Black-owned, woman-led hair company. Berkshire sold its stake to Procter & Gamble for an undisclosed sum last year.

Before she founded Briogeo in 2013, Nancy Twine was burning out at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. After the sudden death of her mother, she realized she wanted to make a larger impact in the natural beauty world. Her brand, with collections such as Curl Charisma, is sold in Sephora stores around the world. She has also recently announced a $1 million Dream Makers Founder Grant designed to support female entrepreneurs with a focus on Black and BIPOC founders in the consumer goods industry.

For other Black female entrepreneurs, entering the space was prompted by scalp ailments. “People with textured hair types are plagued with chronic scalp conditions such as dermatitis, scarring and nonscarring alopecia, and overall broken dry strands,” says Isfahan Chambers-Harriss, a medical scientist and trichologist who launched Alodia in 2017 with a focus on scalp health. “They are really looking for solutions that fix their chronic hair and scalp concerns and help with hair care styling.”

She had struggled with a damaged, itchy scalp from years of chemical straightener use, and around 2010 she began working as a postdoctoral research scientist on a clinical study at Vanderbilt Medical Center that focused on a disease that largely affects Black women called sarcoidosis.

“No one knows what causes sarcoidosis, and I started to wonder if those chemical straighteners that most Black women used at that time could have helped to cause this severe autoimmune disease.” As a biomedical scientist that loved chemistry, she realised she could create a line of organic products to help hair woes.

Kaylah Joseph thought she was dying from an undiagnosed disease because her hair was falling out in clumps. But what she discovered was that it was due to the products she was using — ”that were simply coating my hair and lacked the nutrients that are necessary for a healthy scalp and hair.” It took the North Huntsville, Alabama, native four years to develop her own brand, Laid Hair Care.  In March, a beauty bar shop-in-shop is slated to hit her local Walmart with plans to expand to three more beauty bars in the next 18 months.

Gabrielle Corney, a hairstylist who’s worked with Regina Hall, Brandy and Roberta Flack, says she thinks there’s room for celebrities such as Beyoncé in the market. “I believe there is always room for improvement in consumer education within the texture hair care market. Despite the abundance of hair products available, clients often remain confused about which products are best suited for their specific type and texture.”

Mahisha Dellinger, who founded natural hair-care brand Curls in 2002, agrees. “There are more players, more competition and subsequently, more innovation and greatness.”

By Aja Mangum

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