According to News One broadcasts, black women are aggravated by the SheaMoisture people seeking to expand across color lines. Millions of blacks can see themselves as the base of SheaMoisture marketplace. But there’s nothing wrong with a black company doing “crossover” marketing.
Blacks need to be “educated consumers” guided by racial identity and loyalty. The black hair-care industry is a $761 million market, with ethnic beauty being is a major factor. The multicultural beauty-products market is outpacing the growth of the overall cosmetics and toiletries market.
Some blacks on social media have declared a boycott of the SheaMoisture brand, but company CEO Richelieu Dennis urges those consumers to reconsider.
“We already have few black businesses in beauty,” he said. “I think that it is a mistake to abandon a brand that has served and continues to serve because of a Facebook post. Look at our track record, look at what we’ve done, we are a business trying to grow and we need support.”
Dennis is founder of Sundial Brands, which includes SheaMoisture. He based his original shea butter products on his grandmother’s recipes. Sundial pulled in an estimated $200 million in revenue in 2015. The company’s growth caught the attention of Bain Capital, is a Boston-based company with assets of $75 billion, which acquired a minority stake in Sundial Brands.
The Liberian-born Dennis espouses inclusivity, once writing that his 25-year-old natural beauty company Sundial was more of “a mission with a business, rather than a business with a mission.”
Dennis’ family began making natural beauty products in their Queens, New York, apartment. The brand has come a long way since then, when Dennis was hawking shea butter shampoos by the pound on Harlem’s streets. At the time, Dennis was displaced in the United States as civil war broke out in his native Liberia. The family home in Liberia was destroyed. Dennis, his mother and a close friend from college turned to the family business, which his grandmother started by crafting soaps and lotions from local plants.
Blacks should do all they can to support blacks in business, and Dennis’ company deserves allegiance.
Reciprocity should be the rule of Blacks’ consumerism. Improving consumers’ loyalty to brands allows firms to secure a comfortable long-term position in the market-place. The issue of brand loyalty is larger than just repetitive discrete transactions between consumers and brands. Black women, in particular, spend an estimated $7.5 billion annually on beauty products, shelling out 80 percent more on cosmetics and twice as much on skin care as their nonblack counterparts.
Blacks should stay with Sundial Brands and help increase its image and distribution among other African-Americans. Since its founding, Sundial Brands have supported charitable and nonprofit community organizations. Dennis’ company has Community Commerce–labeled products. Ten percent of gross sales of these items are channeled back into Community Commerce initiatives. The company’s Community Commerce team works with suppliers to identify local needs.
Blacks can help Sundial by forming local support and distribution networks. With the investment money from Bain, Sundial’s distribution footprint is expected to grow from 25,000 stores to 45,000 by next year. Sundial is working with retail partners, such as Target, to move its products off specialty shelves. If all goes according to plan, SheaMoisture will be going head to head with the likes of Procter & Gamble and L’Oreal on store shelves.
William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com.