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Lining up for the Latino market: major beauty brands have expanded their product ranges to accommodate the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population--but getting their business isn't always easy. Here's a look at the complexities of the market and how some companies have set the right tone.

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NOt so long ago, Latinos--and other minorities, as well--often felt overlooked as they searched to find the optimal beauty products that would enhance their features. Dark-haired Colombians struggled to copy the blue-eyed blond makeup looks of Nordic models. Red-haired, freckle-faced Puerto Ricans worked to adapt concealer tips from Irish cover girls. Frustrated with their choices, many consumers had custom foundations blended at department store beauty counters, or turned to small, specialty ethnic brands that better understood their specific needs.

But with a female Hispanic population predicted to comprise a quarter of U.S. women by 2050, many global beauty brands have added ranges to accommodate not only Latinos, but all nationalities.

A February '09 Cover 4 Vanity Fair print ad for Clinique's Even Better skin tone corrector, states: "Our new skin tone corrector gently creates-for all ethnicities--a notably more even complexion with a brightness and clarity you thought long gone." Clinique's bold use of a graphic underscore to emphasize the phrase draws attention to the trend--making it clear that the brand reaches out to all women, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds.

Clinique recently extended its Even Better line to include a foundation that also promises to even and correct skin tone. Lightweight, oil-free and with SPF 15, it comes in 20 different shades from Alabaster to Sienna, and is formulated for dry, combination and oily skin.

This type of forward-thinking, inclusive product strategy, carried out by major cosmetic brands such as Clinique, recognizes Latino consumers' needs, and enables them to choose from a wide variety of expanded mainstream brands as well as private label companies.

Know Your Demo

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By 2012, according to market researcher Mintel, there will be 5.86 million more Americans of Hispanic origin than there were in 2007. The growth rate in the Hispanic population is four times that of Whites.

Brand marketers have struggled for years trying to determine the similarities and differences within the Latino community, and the best way to reach out to them. While many Hispanics share certain cultural characteristics and habits, there are also numerous and complex differences among various groups. And each segment must be addressed in a truly authentic manner to be effective. For Hispanics, brand authenticity is usually a function of self-identification, according to Mintel. The sense of commu nity and pride that exists among Latinos is key to brand perception and loyalty. When Hispanics see a Spanish-language labeled product that is authentic, non-assimilated, just acculturated, this communicates respect for Hispanic culture by the brand. Some brands add cultural appeal by incorporating natural ingredients from botanicals native to Latin America or emphasizing the non-exploitation of workers in third-world countries. Others appeal to consumers' roots with descriptive color names such as Mi Vida Loca and Mango Glow.

Mintel advises marketers to break away from viewing Hispanics as a homogeneous group, as Hispanics can be of any race. In addition, the research organization points out that marketers must keep in mind that Latinos don't all have the same type of hair, and thus, do not use the same products. Some Hispanics battle hair problems such as split ends, frizz and knots, while others deal with kinkier tresses and rely on the same products African-Americans use.

Michael Saray, president Michael Saray Hispanic Marketing, Inc., New York, NY, says the greatest challenges faced by brands trying to serve Latinos are, "Segmentation, acculturation versus product life cycle, media selection and communication strategy and style." Key, he says, is "ensuring that overall marketing budgets are inclusive of Hispanic efforts as opposed to being considered an extra."

Saray says that while it may be difficult to develop a marketing strategy, it's become critical for a brand's success. "[The Latino market] is not one demographic," he emphasizes. "The market is segmented in many ways such as language, income, acculturation, etc. In addition, there will likely be setbacks, especially for new entrants, as many companies try a test in the Hispanic market and if it doesn't work perfectly, they give up." However, in reality, says Saray, failure is not an option. "The growth of almost any product is now dependent on the Hispanic market," he says.

Dr. Maria Cristina Garcia, a professor of Latino Studies at Cornell University, says that while differences in the Latino community, such as education and income come into play, they vary just as in any population group. She says she's wary of attempts to identify a "Latino market," because "we are simply too diverse a population." There are 22 different Latino groups in the United States, says Dr. Garcia, and they reflect the ethnic, racial, socioeconomic and religious diversity of their countries of origin. For example, she says, "a Black Dominican in New York City would purchase very different products than a White Cuban in Miami." Affluent Latinas, says Dr. Garcia, would purchase more upscale products than working class Latinas. And a recently arrived immigrant will likely purchase those products that are familiar--the ones that were available back home; while second- or third-generation Latinas are more influenced by national advertising campaigns.

Big on Beauty

Whatever their subgroup differences are, Latinos continue to gain an ever more influential presence in U.S. culture and commerce. Global research firm Mintel reports that Hispanics, the largest minority group in the U.S., will account for total purchasing power of more than $1 trillion by 2012. While Hispanics comprise 15% of the current population, the group is growing at a 12.9% rate, far above the non-Hispanic growth rate of 2.9%. Total Hispanic population in the U.S. is expected to reach 51 million by 2013.

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And that's great news for the beauty industry because Latinas are big on beauty spending. In fact, Mintel says spending by Hispanics on personal care between 2005 and 2006, percentagewise, rose by more than twice the amount of non-Hispanic spending. (Dollarwise, however, both Hispanic and non-Hispanic households spent an equal amount of their total incomes-1.2%--on personal care.) Hispanic adults, according to Mintel, show a higher consumption of personal care products, outspending non-Hispanics in cosmetics, perfume, bath preparations and hair care products.

The group also shows an affinity for natural/organic products, especially in the body and facial care categories, and for anti-aging and wrinkle-reducing products. According to Mintel, Latinas tend to worry about getting older at a younger age.

Karen Grant, vice president, NPD Beauty--and a member of Beauty Packaging's Board of Advisors, concurs, and says research has found that Hispanics, like Blacks, are more interested in natural and organic beauty products than Whites. NPD has also found that while the Hispanic beauty user will often choose makeup and skin care brands very similar to Whites, they are more likely to use beauty (makeup, skin care, and fragrance) across all ages. In fact they are most likely of any ethnic group to use makeup or skin care. They also have greater challenges finding products to match their skin tone.

Between the Lines

But [hose challenges are now lessening. According to Saray, "The range of choices continues to improve, typically within a brand line. Essentially, color palette selection is improving, if for no other reason than to remain competitive with other brands."

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Like Clinique, a number of brands have added broader ranges to accommodate darker skin tones. Avant-garde beauty brand Tarte recently launched 12 new shades (from Porcelain to Chestnut) of ReCreate, an anti-aging foundation, and added five new shades of its eraser concealer. Candace Craig, Tarte's PR and marketing manager, says, "We're trying to reach a new audience that we weren't able to capture previously with our shade range."

Nars' Firming Foundation now covers a broad range for different skin tones, and Sephora offers a wide variety of shades of the Sephora Mineral Foundation Compact, as well as a vast range of color products. MAC, Revlon, Cover Girl and Avon are a handful of other brands known for their wide selection of choices suitable for the Latina consumer.

Recently, Sephora teamed up with famed Latina tattoo artist and reality TV star Kat Von D, who created her third color line for the beauty retailer. The collection consists of brightly hued lipsticks, shadows and liners, housed in striking packaging with tattoo-like embellishments.

The line is not intended for any group in particular. "Nowadays," says Kat, "the sense of style and glamour has become so versatile across the board, both in the U.S. and elsewhere." Still, Kat's color range suits a broad audience. "I wanted to create a line that thought outside the box, pushing the envelope with the boldest colors and finishes, meanwhile making sure it remained versatile and would be able to be worn by all walks of life, from girls who are more extreme like myself, to my beautiful sweet mother."

No Maybes About It

Research from Packaged Facts, Rockville, MD, found that ethnics (Hispanics, African Americans and Asians) spend $ 2. S billon on mainstream skin care products--and seem content with the expanded range of choices. The researcher notes that Hispanics and Asians are no longer asking for ethnic-specific products. In 2008, the researcher estimated that ethnic purchases of general market health and beauty products ($7 billion) nearly tripled the purchase of ethnic-specific products ($2.7 billion).

Saray says, that while there are some niche products that cater to recent immigrants, in general, Latinas lean to more global brands. This doesn't mean, however, that the marketing efforts should mirror the general market. The message, he cautions, must be inclusive and in culture, regardless of the language used. "There are many ways to do this," he says, "but using only fair-skinned skinny blondes as models or spokespersons is not one of them."

Alternatively, notes Saray, "If the spokesperson is [someone like] Eva Longoria, Salma Hayek, or Dayanna Torres, then the level of inclusivity quickly improves."

But the use of relatable spokesmodels alone is not enough to capture savvy Latino consumers. Brands must also offer a relevant message and effective products with the right pigments.

L'Oreal, which Packaged Facts refers to as the "world's largest beauty firm," as well as the "world's largest ethnic beauty firm," exemplifies how a brand can combine various strategies to successfully sell beauty products to all ethnicities. Using a blend of Spanish-language advertising and packaging (L'Oreal USA is the second largest Hispanic print advertiser in the U.S.), and with a focus on iconic Latina spokesmodels, the brand has garnered huge loyalty from Hispanics, as well as non-Hispanics.

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Stephanie Rinaldi, vice president multi-ethnic marketing for Maybelline New York, says, "We have found that Latinas respond positively to spokesmodels. As with any face attached to a brand, spokesmodels have to be relatable through physical characteristics as well as through a positive image."

The Hispanic market, says Rinaldi, is important because of the huge population growth and increased purchasing power, which has doubled in the past decade. "What further differentiates the Hispanic target," she says, "is their strong retention of culture and language." Therefore, Rinaldi says, "When speaking directly to the Hispanic market, the use of relevant models and imagery tends to create a strong brand loyalty and drive to purchase your product."

According to Rinaldi, Maybelline NY research shows that the average Hispanic woman buys more cosmetics than her general market counterpart. "They over-index in all our cosmetic categories--mascara, lipstick, foundation, nail and shadow," she says.

Creating Brand Loyalty

Bobbi Brown is another cosmetics brand favored by Hispanics as well as non-Hispanics. Rogelio Reyna, Bobbi Brown's manager of artistry and education, Florida and Latin America, says the company offers "a full range of tones and colors that works for a wide range of skin tones, from the fairest Latina like Christina Aguilera to the darkest Latina, like Celia Cruz. Bobbi is about classic and timeless beauty that is effortless," he says, "and Latinas love that."

He says Latinos prefer a skin care regimen from one brand; they don't like mixing brands. They also look for brand identity--did a friend or family member use it? Did they see it in a magazine? Is their favorite celebrity endorsing it? From there, he says, they look to see if the range of colors offered is large enough to suit them.

Latinas, says Reyna, are definitely into makeup regimens. "They love the whole process of getting ready," he says, "from doing their makeup, hair and trying on clothing. More is better!"

And because typically, Latinas' love of beauty starts at a young age--especially highlighted during a girl's Quinceanera, the traditional celebration of her 15th birthday--Bobbi Brown created a program to enhance the girls' experience via her unique Quinceanera beauty program. The three-month process starts at counter with a skin care regimen and the right cosmetics to enhance her features. The next month's visit focuses on choosing a look for her Quinceanera. On the month of her Quinceanera, the girls bring their friends to counter for a makeup party.

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The program has proved especially popular in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico, where " 'Quinces' are huge and our first ever Miss Quince [was crowned]," says Reyna. Estimates for the amount spent on this festivity top $300 million annually.

Has the economy had a negative effect on Latino sales in general? "In my experience, says Reyna, "Latinos are still buying up a storm. I often joke that Latinos would rather starve than look less pretty or handsome."

And with this, yet another Latino subgroup surfaces. "The men are coming around," notes Reyna. He says, "It used to be the whole 'machismo' idea where a man could not pamper himself with the exception of cologne. Eye cream or bronzer was never an option for these men. But that is changing, and the idea of being metrosexual is coming into the mainstream. More men are becoming loyal fans of skin care and getting manicures and pedicures."

Opportunities Ahead

Mintel research backs up this trend, and says that Hispanic men ages 18-44 are more likely than non-Hispanics to be influenced by online advertising, stylist recommendations and package appearance. Appealing to these consumers in both English and Spanish would be a wise move for marketers, the company advises.

Two other areas poised for big growth in the Latino market? Hispanic youth and kids. According to Mintel, Hispanic youth is increasing by 22.5% between 2003-2013, and reports, "marketers must find ways to connect with this consumer group."

As far as the kids' market, while childbirths are rising in the Latino community, Mintel reports that consumption of specific child-related products lags behind non-Hispanic consumers, providing a growing avenue for marketers. As kids often choose products with cartoon characters or popular cultural icons, Mintel suggests that, for the less acculturated, it might be wise to reach the children through Spanish language TV prior to them entering school.

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Hispanic marketing expert Saray sums it up, pointing out that half the population growth in the U.S. is coming from the Hispanic market. "More than 50% of first graders in Texas are Hispanic; in California, more than one in two births are Latino," he says. "If you cannot figure out how to market effectively to Hispanics, then the medium-to-long-term future of your product or company is not very bright."

Jamie Matusow, Editor
COPYRIGHT 2009 Rodman Publishing
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Author:Matusow, Jamie
Publication:Beauty Packaging
Date:Mar 1, 2009
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