Today, I’m sharing 2 ways that can help you connect with the natural hair community.
Our community is diverse, growing, plugged-in, active, knowledgeable, and committed to maintaining healthy, natural hair. We’re so committed that, according to the research and survey firm Mintel, the sales of relaxer kits fell 17% in 2007! FYI, in case you didn’t know, a relaxer kit chemically straightens natural hair (simply put, it’s the opposite of natural hair).
When it comes to products for our hair, we actually read the labels. Parabens? No thank you. Sulfates? I’ll pass. If you’re trying to market to the African American consumer, understand that the natural segment within the community is expanding. For many old and new naturals, seeing examples of our natural hair in the media is empowering. So, as a brand, it’s really important that you get it right.
What does this mean for you?
1. Meet us where we are.
Remember how I said that naturals are active? Follow us on social media. There are so many natural hair blogs out there it’s crazy. Read them! Learn about our concerns, thoughts, and issues. Watch natural hair vloggers on YouTube. Understand the difference between a twist-out and an afro. Lurk in our online communities (for example, the Curly Nikki forums). Learn the lingo!
But most of all, do not make the mistake that Mizani UK made. They teamed up with British salon Guy and Torrie to offer complimentary natural hair consultations to local women. But here’s where they messed up. They called our beautiful, natural hair “excessively curly textured hair”. Excessive? I think not. I don’t know anyone in the natural hair community that would call her hair excessive. I’ve heard everything from kinky, nappy, curly, coily, and more. But never excessively curly.
Thought experiment assignment: Part 1 – What comes to mind when you hear the word excessive? Now, put that in the context of hair and tell me if “excessively curly textured hair” was the best term to use. Part 2 – Visit some natural hair blogs and learn 5 natural hair vocabulary words.
2. When marketing products, do your research.
Think: measure twice, cut once. If you’re forward-thinking enough to use models and actresses with natural hair in your campaigns, get to know the African-American female consumer. Read tip #1 and reach out to women in the natural hair community who can give feedback on your campaigns through surveys and focus groups.
And one more thing: hire someone that knows how to do natural hair on set! I’ve seen some natural hairstyles in commercials and advertisements that made me cringe. Dry, brittle-looking natural hair is never a good look.
Thought experiment assignment: Go back through your brands’ advertisements and commercials with African American women. What was their hairstyle? Did she embody stereotypical characteristics like the women in this Discover Card commercial? Or did you get it right? If you’re unsure, email it to me and I’ll let you know.
In the comments section below, tell me something you learned from this post.
Want more tips? Stay tuned to Natural Hair in the Media for more insight into the natural hair consumer.