Au naturel: The new normal

Is natural the new norm in African-American hair care? It just might be.

(For the full category review, including sales data, click here.)

Within the ethnic hair care category, the natural style has taken hold and — judging by the ongoing sales declines in relaxers — it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

“The natural hair trend is driving an increase in sales of such styling products as styling moisturizers, setting lotions, curl creams, pomades, etc., but the increase has caused the relaxer segment to decline in sales,” said Tonya Roberts, multicultural analyst at Mintel. “A look at expenditures from 2008 to 2013 shows steady growth in the African-American hair care category for all categories except relaxers/perms.”

Relaxers account for about 20% of African-American hair care sales, and the segment is projected to reach $152 million this year, down from $206 million in 2008, according to Mintel. Furthermore, Mintel reported in September that 70% of African-American women said they currently wear or have worn their hair natural (i.e., no relaxer or perm) within the past 12 months. More than half (53%) said they have worn braids, and 41% have worn locks.

This trend also is reflected in data provided by IRI that shows double-digit declines in sales of both relaxers and home permanent kits for the 52 weeks ended Nov. 3.

What’s the appeal of a natural style? It exudes confidence and style. At least that’s what many women told Mintel when asked why they prefer to sport a natural coif.

While relaxers and perm kits may be taking a blow, sales of shampoos and conditioners specially formulated for African-American hair — which account for about 35% of the African-American hair care market — are reaping the benefits. Such products are estimated to hit $257 million this year, up from $211 million in 2008, according to Mintel.

Styling products, which account for nearly 40% of the African-American hair care market, are projected to reach $268 million in 2013, up from $220 million in 2008. Styling products are benefiting from a drop in the use of relaxers and perms, but a greater movement toward at-home treatments is also fueling sales.


- 2:51 AM
TyLiv1950 says

Too bad that you are only basing this infomation on PARTIAL data!!!! There is an entire unaccounted segment of the retail channel where African American women purchase thier beauty products, and this is not aligned with this article. Mine information base consist of 35 years of marketing products to Women of African decent. Ty Livingston 305.299.1918

- 2:55 AM
TyLiv1950 says

Your article is only based upon 50% of where Women of African decent shop, and spend about 75% of the dollars that they spend on beauty care products. Ty Livingston 305.299.1918

- 11:27 AM says

Hello Ty, Thanks for your comments... We would love to take a look at your data -- would you share it with us? Keep reading DSN! CHEERS, ROB EDER Editor Drug Store News Group

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