The U.S. Hispanic Beauty Market
Brand marketers recognize the importance of connecting with the
U.S. Hispanic population through products, packaging and marketing.
By Leah Genuario, Contributing Editor
During the 2007 Super Bowl, Toyota aired a commercial for its Camry Hybrid. The advertisement featured a Hispanic son and father riding in the car. While Hispanic models and actors are becoming an increasingly common scenario in American television, this ad went two steps further. It effectively portrayed cultural norms and perhaps more unusual, it was bi-lingual.
Concerning the ad, Toyota released this statement: “The ad concept leverages the hybrid nature of blending languages and cultures while preserving a unique identity.”
Although the ad has universal appeal, it specifically resonated with the Hispanic community. “The ad tied the characteristics of the product with something very relevant with the community. We flip our language, and in some respect, we can flip our culture depending on whom we are with,” explains Juan Tornoe, senior strategic planner for LatinWorks, a Hispanic advertising agency in Austin, TX.
The Caribbean Sea serves as inspiration for Activate Beauty’s packaging.
The face of America is changing and brand marketers in every industry are recognizing the vital importance of connecting with this growing population. The Hispanic population jumped over 50% from the 1990 U.S. Census to the 2000 U.S. Census, with no signs of slowing. The latest census revealed that 12.5% of the population—35.3 million residents—is Hispanic.
Buying power has also seen a dramatic rise. Hispanic buying power was estimated at $768 billion in 2005, according to market research organization Packaged Facts. “Spending power has grown at a significantly faster rate in the last five years than other sub-groups,” says Stephen Palacios, executive vice president of marketing agency Cheskin, Redwood Shores, CA.
“This is attributed to higher incomes,” says Tornoe. “They have money left in their pockets to buy what they want from American corporations. And their children are getting better educations and better jobs.”
And even better news for the beauty industry, Hispanics are particularly interested in spending money on beauty products. “We know from our research that Hispanics over-index the beauty category. They purchase at a higher rate than normal,” says Palacios.
Big Beauty Beneficiaries
Spanish-language magazine Siempre Mujer recently released its Best of Beauty feature, highlighting the editor’s picks for the 50 best beauty products. The list was compiled by gaining insight from beauty experts, celebrities and best seller lists. Brands that made the list represent a Who’s Who in the beauty industry—L’Oréal, Estée Lauder, Cover Girl, Mary Kay, Dove and Pantene, to name a few.
R.BIRD created the Amaya brand to appeal to the Latina consumer.
Interestingly, the majority of products were from international brands produced for the general market. Very few brands—arguably two—had roots that traced back specifically to the Hispanic community. This should not come as a surprise, experts say.
“You don’t have any idea how much influence the U.S. has in Latin America. Residents are exposed to all of the media—they are aware of the brands,” says Tornoe. “When they come to the U.S., now they have the money to buy the brands that were just inspirational before.”
“American brands, particularly glamour and beauty brands, are more aspirational. They are better known, they are better advertised, and they signify levels of status and success. A lot of this market came to the country for aspirational reasons of self improvement. To be able to purchase a well-known brand is very desirable,” says Palacios.
Capitalizing on their popularity in Latin America, some brands take heed to reach out to Hispanics in the United States as well. Unilever’s Sunsilk brand, for example, is the number one selling hair care brand in Latin America. When the brand launched in the U.S. in 2006, it offered Hispanic consumers two specifically-targeted collections in addition to its general product line.
According to Unilever, Sunsilk is the number one selling hair care brand in Latin America.
“Sunsilk is the first major U.S. brand to include Hispanic-specific variants at launch, with two collections designed specifically to solve the unique hair needs of Hispanic women—Anti Esponja and Anti Caída,” says Sarah Jensen, director, U.S. Hair Care, Unilever.
The two collections are housed in ergonomic, brightly-colored packages that feature a picture of a Latina. Text on the bottles is bi-lingual.
Sunsilk has extended its general-market line with two specifically-targeted Hispanic collections, although this is not the norm for major beauty brands. Rather than launching Hispanic-specific products, beauty companies increasingly incorporate Hispanic interests into general market products, using Latin-inspired line extensions that have a universal appeal.
“What I see is an adaption or a line extension of a mainstream brand that can appeal to an American living in Idaho or a Latino living in New Mexico—something I would call Inclusion Product Strategy rather than Exclusion Product Strategy,” says Mariví Chong, design associate for design consultancy R.BIRD, New York, NY, and manager of the ¿ask mariví? website.
OPI, for example, launched its Mexico Collection of nail and lip shades last spring. “We were inspired by the gorgeous hues seen in daily Mexican life—the hand-painted tiles with touches of cobalt, the brightly colored doorways, the muted shades of sun-baked pottery, the vivid embroidered blouses, the bold red chilis,” says Suzi Weiss-Fischman, executive vice president and artistic director.
The line was marketed to the general public, but received a good response from Latinas, according to the company.
Westlake Village, CA-based Jafra Cosmetics, with a large Hispanic following, also incorporates Hispanic preferences into general lines.
“We don’t necessarily develop specific products for the Hispanic population. Although some key findings are their preferences for strong fragrances and vibrant color shades, which then become part of our global product line,” remarks Melba Ríos, vice president of sales for the Hispanic Division.
Room for Niche Brands
Although global brands have a big opportunity among Hispanic consumers, there is a smaller, but healthy market of ethnic-specific brands. While general-use health and beauty products purchased by ethnic consumers are valued at $6 billion, ethnic-specific health and beauty brands still have an estimated value of only $1.5 billion, states Chicago-based Euromonitor International in a 2005 report called Changing Ethnic Mix: Impact of Immigration and Ethnicity on Consumer Market Demand to 2010.
Ethnic-specific brands are clearly the underdogs in the race for the ethnic consumer, but they do serve value, especially in certain beauty segments. “Hair and skin care are the cosmetics and toiletries that are most relevant to ethnic consumers and offer the greatest potential for niche product development, due to physiological differences between races,” states the report.
Activate Beauty, for example, is a hair care brand that was launched by a group of Latinas for Latina women. “We launched with seven products that address the different hair types that Latina women have. Typically, we have thick, coarse hair that is drier and more difficult to manage,” says Jacqueline Chariff, president and chief executive.
Ouidad for curly hair is popular with Latinas. While not exclusive to the Hispanic market, the company now advertises in Latina magazines using Latina models.
The products are distributed at mass-market chains such as Rite Aid and Walgreens in high-Hispanic areas. With targeted grassroots marketing and partnerships with magazines such as Cosmopolitan en Español, the young company has realized a number of successes and its distribution continues to grow.
Other brands have found that their niche is especially attractive to Hispanics. Ouidad is not an ethnic-specific hair care brand, but its focus on curly hair makes it a favorite with Latina women—an ethnic group that frequently has wavy or curly hair, says the company. The brand has taken out ads in Latina magazines in the past and currently features two Latina models in its advertising campaigns.
Connecting Through Packaging
Although there are arguably some physical characteristics that are typical of Hispanics, it is not the largest common denominator. “There are few [physical appearance] things that are specific to our race in particular,” says Javier Escobedo, managing partner for Olé, a Hispanic advertising agency in New York City. “What brings us together is the language.”
Perhaps the most notable characteristic of packaging that targets Hispanics is the inclusion of the Spanish language. Many beauty brands now include Spanish on packaging. But is it always necessary?
“About 1/3 of Hispanics are dominantly Spanish-speaking, 1/3 are bi-lingual and 1/3 are dominantly English speaking. In terms of packaging, the more mass, lower-end your product is, the more important bi-lingual packaging is,” says Escobedo, citing the fact that new immigrants—who tend to speak exclusively Spanish—cannot usually afford expensive products.
Bi-lingual packaging is also more important when the product is complicated to apply. “Bi-lingual packaging typically benefits when it’s a complicated value proposition. Lipstick, for example, is not complicated. Does it need instructions in Spanish? Probably not. But if you have a beauty product [with a level of complexity associated with product use] then bi-lingual instruction or direction can be helpful,” says Palacios.
Despite the widespread use of the Spanish language within the U.S. Hispanic population, experts caution against eliminating English altogether in Hispanic-targeted products.
“Spanish-only packaging takes a big chance of not being understood by Hispanic-Americans who only speak English and by the rest of consumers who may be interested in the product but do not understand it. It is not effective at all,” observes Chong.
When adding Spanish to packaging, translation is of the utmost importance. “I have seen carelessly translated product names,” adds Chong. “Mistakes can be avoided by hiring a translation professional and checking the spelling. Note that depending on the country of origin, many words do not mean the same.”
Aside from incorporating Spanish, there are other ways that packaging can resonate with Hispanic consumers. One way is through strategic use of color. Activate Beauty, for example, packages its products in bright turquoise. The color was chosen as a reminder of the Caribbean Sea.
Jafra’s research indicates that Hispanic customers often prefer stronger scents and Jafra has incorporated them into its global line.
Chong cites a packaging example from the food industry. “Color can remind consumers of products found in their country of origin,” he says. “A good example is Comidas Caseras, a new line of ready-made meals inspired by popular Latin dishes…primary and secondary colors such as bright red, yellow, green and orange give a sense of friendliness.”
Finally, appropriately used images can connect with Hispanic consumers. Images depicting close relationships among family and friends, for example, often work well on packaging and within advertising campaigns. However, “you have to be very careful not to be stereotypical,” cautions Tornoe.
Chong provides an example of a “cultural misunderstanding” in the wine industry. “[The brand] claims to celebrate the passions, interests and faces of the Hispanic community, but it stereotypes and portrays Hispanic people in tasteless situations such as a woman getting overly excited and a couple in a suggestive position…not all Hispanics are party driven,” she says.
The Personal Connection
Packaging is not the only way beauty brands are connecting with Hispanic consumers. “Purchasing beauty products through a catalog is very popular among Hispanics,” says Chong. “Many Hispanic women tend to buy from someone they know or someone who has personally recommended and presented the product to them.”
Recognizing this trend, Jafra Cosmetics set up a separate U.S. Hispanic division in 1995 to specifically address the needs of its Spanish-speaking consultants. “We spend extensive time and effort seeing our 48,000 Spanish-speaking consultants face-to-face. It’s about being emotionally and physically connected and in tune with what our consultants need,” says Ríos. “The success of Jafra’s Hispanic consultants can be attributed to understanding that family, brand loyalty, income opportunity and recognition are key factor ingredients.”
Jafra Cosmetics offers Spanish-language training and marketing materials, in addition to live support with Spanish-speaking employees. Its product packaging is bi-lingual and the company also advertises on Spanish-language television and in magazines.
Direct sellers aren’t the only ones who can benefit from the preference for a personal connection. Many brands are hoping product recommendations from Latina stylists wield as much influence as friends-turned-sales representatives.
In December, Pantene launched its first ever contest for the “Hair Stylist that Shines in the Community.” Pantene partnered with salons throughout the country and is encouraging Latinas to nominate exceptional Hispanic stylists.
“Latinas have an especially strong bond with their hair stylists and we wanted to do something to honor that. This contest is an opportunity to celebrate that relationship and to also support small businesses in the Hispanic community,” says Mayra Pollock, brand manager for Pantene U.S. Hispanic markets and Puerto Rico.
Hair care brand Joico presented several products to a large audience of Latino licensed cosmetologists at the Paramount Runway Show in New York. The presentations were given in Spanish. “The majority of our models were of Latin descent with thick, coarse, dark hair,” says Joico artist Giovanni Villalba.
Joico also uses Spanish speaking collateral material and its packaging is bi-lingual.
Activate Beauty has also teamed with stylists, introducing a celebrity hair dresser tour to Wal-Mart stores. “We are taking our hair dressers to interact with the public. These are the types of grassroots things that are making a difference in the growth of the brand,” says Chariff.
In addition to packaging and personal connections, successful marketing campaigns also require relevant emotional connections.
“For Hispanics in general, promises don’t work very well. We have seen a lot of beauty ads that don’t connect with Hispanic people,” says Escobedo. “It’s about building the emotional connection. The perfect ad is one that goes beyond saying you’ll have silky, smooth skin. It’s saying that you’ll appreciate this soft skin when your kids kiss you…it will make you feel better as a mother. The emotional benefit is incredibly important.”
The Dove Real Beauty Campaign has been intentional about emotionally connecting with Latina women. In The Dove Report, released in 2004, research revealed that more than 60% of Latinas are happy with the way they look. The report also showed that Hispanic women desire a wider definition of beauty: these findings resulted in an excellent transition into conversation about real beauty and The Dove Real Beauty Campaign.
The Importance of Research
Whether a small or a large beauty brand, experts stress the importance of knowing the target audience before attempting to reach them.
“Hispanics are a market that draw from 25 countries both inside and outside of this hemisphere. Hispanics come in all different shapes, sizes and colors. How to target them is based on appropriate segmentation. In some instances, the complexion of a certain segment of the Hispanic population would require a different formulation or color palette. For others, it wouldn’t. There are a certain percentage with English skills and a certain percentage without,” says Palacios.
“When you say the word Hispanic, it involves so many different backgrounds. It’s such a diverse group,” says Tornoe.
Given their diverse nature, extensive research is necessary to effectively reach the group. “I’ve seen many people not budget right or allow enough funds to do consumer research. Don’t skip steps. Make sure you have appropriate consumer understanding and insight gathering. If you don’t have these two things, it will be difficult to be successful,” says Escobedo. -