Multicultural Beauty: Eryca Freemantle on Women of Colour
Euromonitor International is pleased to present an interview with Eryca Freemantle, a global industry intelligence expert, a TV producer and presenter, and an award-winning international celebrity make-up artist, specialising in corrective make-up. Eryca sits on the board of Panel of Experts at the London College of Fashion and is an advocate for multicultural beauty, actively engaged in organising expos and trade fairs. She also serves as a consultant for multinational brands looking to enter the beauty market in Africa. She regularly appears on leading television channels, including Bloomberg and CNN speaking about the expanse of multicultural beauty.
With increasing segmentation, this is definitely an area beauty manufacturers are exploring, but there are still large gaps that need to be filled. Usually most make-up brands that wish to capture the attention of women of colour tend to only use three shades, what they call light, medium and dark. Light is designed for Caucasian women, medium is aimed at olive skin tones and dark is targeted towards mix skin tones. This leaves out most of the African women with black skin tones, but, even within the African skin tones, there are over 50 different shades. Multinational beauty manufacturers have been aiming to improve their coverage of the multicultural beauty market, but more needs to be done. Given the strong propensity for women of African origin to spend on beauty, this is indeed a segment that’s worth investing in. As for lipsticks and blushers, however, there is a wider pool to select from.
Are there any unique marketing approaches that should be considered when approaching women of colour?
The concept of multicultural beauty is not a straightforward one because it involves a diverse and fragmented group of races and communities across the world. Designing marketing approaches to target this diverse yet fragmented group is a challenging task, but, with growing space for multicultural beauty, this is something that cannot be ignored either. It is true that women across all races respond well to positive messages of reinforcement and self-respect, but, when marketing products in a growing multicultural marketplace, it is necessary to develop a more customised approach. For example, black consumer power is fast rising and observation reveals that black women tend to spend more time researching and understanding a product in comparison to Caucasian counterparts. This means that products not only need to be closely targeted in terms of beauty solutions, but sales representatives at the counters need to show a clear understanding of their beauty needs.
As emerging markets increasingly offer greater potential, what unique multicultural aspects should multinationals take into consideration?
The term “emerging markets” is often loosely used to indicate any country climbing up the global competitive index. We would, however, advise international companies to remember that each country within the emerging markets has its unique strengths, weaknesses, regulations and processes. Being competitive in Kenya does not necessarily follow the same formula as we would expect in Nigeria. In Nigeria, women are more expressive in terms of their beauty needs and expect products to be built closely to their specifications. The advice is for multinationals to stay away from a “one-size-fits-all” approach to their plans for international expansion into emerging markets. Research, acknowledge and respect the terrain are the first three things that we would advise multinationals to take into consideration. Go to the countries in questions and get to know the people you intend to market the products to. Remember that what happens to work where you are may not work somewhere else.
What do you think are the gaps in how multinationals are approaching developing markets?
An important consideration is that African markets, for that matter any new market, is not set up like Europe where the retail infrastructure is different and sophisticated measures are applied to tap into the emotive element of consumer purchases. In emerging markets retail infrastructure and distribution channels are different. For example, in Nigeria there are many mini department stores selling international brands. Instead of waiting for these markets to develop Western-style retail infrastructure, it would be good to adopt approaches that suit the retailing infrastructure of the developing markets. There are a few options to choose from. Develop concessions in the mini department stores or set up stand-alone stores. Some premium brands have done, but this is a concept that mass brands could consider as well. Given African consumers like guidance in the purchase process, this could work well for foreign brands.
What effective platforms are there to address the gaps by facilitating interaction between multinationals and local stakeholders?
Exhibitions are one of the most effective ways to facilitate networking and B2B interaction. Informa Life Sciences Exhibitions identified that there was a gap in the market in Nigeria to host an international exhibition that would get everyone in the industry together under one roof. Beauty Africa was born out of this idea and the first edition of the show has proved to be a great success. I was invited to be a speaker at the event and it was great to have the opportunity to meet with so many stakeholders in one place.
Individuals were brought together under one umbrella, encouraged to network and do business together. Multinationals were able to interact with various brands in one place, which gave them the opportunity to see for themselves excellence in one place. Feedback from exhibitors, visitors, speakers and VIP guests has supported the idea that this type of industry interaction is what is required to propel the emerging industry even further.
There are many exhibitions and expos about to spring up on the continent of Africa to help educate and train for greater competitiveness in the market.
Some manufacturers are exploring the options of acquiring local players. Do you think this is a good strategy to become more competitive in emerging markets?
Never underestimate the power of solid partnerships or mergers. For multinationals looking to establish themselves as a big player in an emerging market, partnerships are often the most direct way of solidifying brands in that particular territory. Local players understand the local business climate and often have existing relationships with key government departments; something that multinationals often struggle to establish without the endorsement of a local partner.
What would your advice be for companies acquiring local companies to make their venture a success?
In terms of a successful outcome of a multinational-local joint venture, success is perhaps better judged on the merits and strength of the partnership. Finding a reliable local partner can sometimes be tricky, which is why we advise multinationals to go through their relevant High Commissions. We use the UKTI (United Kingdom Trade Industry). We have worked with them for over eight years. They have various departments that support and guide clients through the marketplace and even help to arrange one-to-one meetings with potential suited partners. We find this way of doing business takes away the stress of having to do the bulk of the work. It is still very important that companies make up their own minds who they wish to work with, but there are usually good outcomes. After multinationals decide how they want to enter the market, there are consultants like ourselves on the ground to assist in the process of understanding local needs, market dynamics and the distribution infrastructure.
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