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LAYING THE GROUNDWORK FOR ECONOMIC EQUITY IN BEAUTY

April 07, 2021 Kelly Kovack
April 07, 2021
Gilbert Bertrand via Unsplash

The future we fight for as an industry has to be one that is truly diverse and inclusive. Real change will not happen without an intersectional approach to redesigning the systems that perpetuate inequity across all aspects of our lives and business.

Cheryl Grace, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing, Shopper & Community Engagement at NielsenIQ, said “To call the year 2020 a disruption is an understatement. The COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustice, and politics have affected every facet of American life.” She believes, “Within that disruption, though, there are lessons to be learned and data to be mined; gathering metrics about the year’s impact gives us power. Analyzing those metrics—their economic and social impact on the business of Black/African-American beauty—is the critical first step towards eradicating long-standing financial inequities.”

READY to BEAUTY, a global think tank for multicultural entrepreneurs and brands, has authored the first-of-its-kind economic data study focused on multicultural beauty. The data analysis was conceived to take a financial snapshot of the US beauty industry while examining how key business segments have responded to, and are continually being impacted by, the combined effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, both of which have led to calls for greater economic restructuring.

"Real economic change can only be achieved on a base of real economic data."
By Corey Huggins, Founder & Managing Director, READY to BEAUTY

For too many, the Black Lives Matter movement became a moment to post a perfectly crafted social media response or email. Last year’s calls for racial and economic justice cannot be just a trend or an annual focus—the conversation must continue until real change is achieved. At BeautyMatter, our intention in partnering with READY to BEAUTY is to amplify their work arming businesses with education and data in the fight to create a more equitable and healthy future for everyone in the beauty industry.

“Readiness Is the New Green: An Economic Data Study on the Business of Multicultural Beauty in America” provides real economic data that lay the groundwork to power real economic change. The result is a smart, insightful snapshot of the Black/African-American beauty sector, allowing for a better economic understanding of the challenges and opportunities, and sketching out a pathway for what READY to BEAUTY argues should be the next steps in terms of financial actions and reforms for economic equity within the beauty industry.

When asked “Why now?,” Corey Huggins, founder & Managing Director of READY to BEAUTY, replied, “Anecdotally, I knew the coronavirus pandemic was an economic gut punch to Black/African-American businesses at large. But I wanted to know specifically its effect on beauty businesses of color, especially after the #BlackLivesMatter protests and all the ongoing calls for economic restructuring. I want all the economic changes that are now being batted around to be substantive and long-lasting. And I know real economic change can only be achieved on a base of real economic data. Consequently, I decided to draw that baseline in the sand, and have my think tank field the foundational economic research for multicultural beauty.”

The research examined the attitudes, behaviors, and actions of notable Black/African-American founders, executives, and thought leaders working in beauty, giving an account of their readiness to manage the economic disruptions and the subsequent calls for economic restructuring. Their thoughts on the state of the sector were then compared to an equivalent panel representing general market beauty businesses.

Research for the report was conducted at the end of 2020 to achieve the best possible year-end snapshot, and was then followed up in February/March for an analysis of First Quarter 2021. Consequently, this is the richest and most current economic data for the Black/African American beauty market.

The “Readiness Is the New Green” economic data study’s key findings include:

  • The Black/African-American panel is more optimistic than the general market panel, and thinks beauty is healthy in America.
  • The Black/African-American panel is now better prepared than the general market panel to withstand an economic disruption.
  • The Black/African-American panel most commonly rates their relationships with their bank/banking officer as “OK” at best.
  • A disconnect is evident between what the Black/African-American panel actually needs and what the general market panel presumes they need; without constructive dialogue, this will never be resolved.
  • The Black/African-American panel’s thoughts, beliefs, and spending habits changed as a result of George Floyd / #BlackLivesMatter, despite general market skepticism for the prospects of systemic change.
  • The Black/African-American panel forecast stronger economics for specific beauty categories (e.g., Hair, Skin) than for general ones (e.g., Health & Wellness) in 2021 after the pandemic and beyond.

Clearly, there is much work still to be done to eradicate the economic inequities and social injustices experienced by Black/African Americans. This will take deep individual and collective commitments to focus on long-term sustained initiatives, including improvements in access to human and financial resources, in order to advance the industry as a whole. Change must arrive from the inside out, as well as from the outside in. Actions to ensure diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging are all about building connection and community, acknowledging differences, and embracing similarities. And perhaps best of all: these changes make sound economic and business sense.

The full “Readiness Is the New Green: An Economic Data Study on the Business of Multicultural Beauty in America” report is available for purchase.

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