By Anupreeta Das
Celebrities such as Eva Longoria and Beyonce Knowles and a bevy of multicultural models have been hired to promote new products by companies that have traditionally targeted white women and their beauty concerns.
Analysts say the strategy is a permanent trend that could drive growth across the many fashion and beauty segments.
"It's a natural growth opportunity for companies," said Roman Shuster, an analyst with Euromonitor International.
"With the minority population slated to grow, and as economic conditions improve, this is where you want to be."
In recent years, Procter & Gamble has introduced a line of shampoos targeted at "women of color" under its popular Pantene brand.
This year, it is boosting distribution of its CoverGirl Queen Collection, a makeup line launched in 2006 in partnership with singer and actress Queen Latifah.
In January, the company also held a casting call for minority women interested in modeling for the brand, spokeswoman Anitra Marsh said.
"As cosmetic offerings for women of color in the mass channel improve, we feel very optimistic about the growth of this segment," Marsh said.
For Alberto-Culver Co Inc., which makes V05 shampoos and the Pro-Line range of ethnic-specific hair care, the minority demand for high-quality hair products could drive double-digit growth in many product categories, said Sheryl Adkins-Green, vice president of multicultural marketing.
MORE SHADES, MORE SALES
French cosmetics company L'Oreal runs a research institute in Chicago dedicated to the study of ethnic skin and hair. Its roster of 15 spokespersons uses six nonwhite celebrities, including Knowles, Longoria and Indian film star Aishwarya Rai, in its American ad campaigns.
Avon Products Inc., which uses Mexican actress Salma Hayek as a spokeswoman, has expanded its cosmetics line to include more shades. Kao Brands' Jergens has launched a self-tanning moisturizer for darker skin.
Executives at CVS/Caremark Corp. and Walgreen Co. also said they see some growth in this area.
Walgreen markets an exclusive line of skin-care products priced under $15 -- including the best-selling skin lightener and a trendy microdermabrasion kit -- under the Dr. Jan Adams Women of Color Total Skincare label, a spokeswoman said.
"The perception of the ethnic-specific aisle is about to change," said Timothy Dowd, a senior analyst at market research firm Packaged Facts, who wrote a 2006 report on the U.S. ethnic hair, beauty and cosmetics industry.
Minorities, who make up nearly a third of the U.S. population, are expected to have combined spending of about $3 trillion by 2011, according to the University of Georgia's Selig Center for Economic Growth.
Currently, the market for ethnic-specific products is about $2 billion, according to Packaged Facts research, and is expected to surpass $2.5 billion in the next five years.