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Taraji P. Henson launched textured hair line TPH by Taraji, exclusively at Target on Wednesday. The brand, which was incubated by Maesa, was the sixth play for the category in a year.
There has been a lot of talk about inclusivity and diversity within beauty, driven first by Fenty Beauty’s foundation range, but that chatter hadn’t amounted to much innovation within hair care until recently. Unlike DTC makeup brands that have popped up at a frenetic pace (due likely to the rise of contract manufactures), all of the newly launched brands required a conglomerate or brand incubator with true product expertise.
Last week, Unilever and Sundial Brands announced its own incubated brand, Emerge. It, too, is a Target exclusive and is meant to capture a multicultural Gen-Z consumer. Emerge’s launch follows Unilever’s Suave Professionals for Natural Hair line for “new naturalistas” that debuted in spring 2019. Competitor Procter & Gamble was not about to stand on the sidelines: Last year, it incubated My Black Is Beautiful with Sally Beauty and created a black-focused subbrand, the Royal Oils Collection, off of Head & Shoulders. Elsewhere, celebrity Tracee Ellis Ross unveiled Pattern Beauty in partnership with Beach House Group in September 2019.
According to Mintel, the black hair-care market, including shampoo, conditioners and styling products, was estimated to be valued at $1.75 billion and is expected to grow by 11% to about $2 billion by 2024. This lucrative sales opportunity is what Henson said is the driver behind the onslaught of brands hitting the market today.
“People did not see the money in it. It took Carol’s Daughter or Miss Jessie’s for companies to even consider black hair brands,” said Henson. “If you are in the business of money, then representation is everything. Everyone is going to come out with these brands now because they see value.”
For its part, Carol’s Daughter was founded by Lisa Price in 1993 and was sold to L’Oréal in 2014. At the time, the company was pulling in $27 million in annual revenue. Industry sources expect TPH to rake in $20 million at retail in its first year, and partner Maesa is expected to hit $310 million in revenue by year end.
This is Maesa’s first attempt at a line for textured hair, much like Beach House Group’s play with Pattern Beauty. Conglomerates are swinging into the territory, too, but have used offshoot brands like Suave Professionals for Natural Hair and the Royal Oils Collection by Head & Shoulders to find their footing before launching standalone brands.
In the case of My Black Is Beautiful, Lela Coffey, P&G brand director of multicultural beauty, said the product line was directly linked to P&G’s content site of the same name and found at mbib.com (it has been around for more than 10 years). This gave the company the prowess to compete authoritatively in the category, she said.
“From our site, we had a deep understanding of that community. We saw what products women were using and what they needed more of, and we were ready to provide that,” said Coffey.
However, My Black Is Beautiful is only available in Sally Beauty stores; the seemingly obvious DTC e-commerce link with its content site does not currently exist. Coffey would not comment on future plans for the brand. Sally Beauty does over-index with multicultural consumers. According to Maryann Herskowitz, vp of color and care at Sally Beauty, 30% of the retailer’s hair-care sales are textured hair products.
“Sally is a destination for hair, salon-quality-products and black women. It is a trifecta you can’t ignore,” said Coffey.
Sally Beauty is well known as a place to shop for black consumers; it has recently worked hard to revamp its image with new store formats and campaigns. Still, Ulta is in similar locations as Sally, and Pattern Beauty is an exclusive with the former. Ulta has tried to clearly link its salon service business with its product business via its back bar program. Monica Arnaudo, chief merchandising officer at Ulta Beauty, previously told Glossy that Pattern Beauty could easily find a place in that cross-merchandising effort. Coffey said while P&G has heard anecdotally that salons are using My Black Is Beautiful in its doors, its product launches have been geared only toward the end consumer, thus far.
And with exclusives with Emerge and TPH, Target should also be seen as a strong competitor.
“I wanted to make products that are affordable and be at a place where everyone shopped,” said Henson. “A designer-type of brand at this price is what you find at Target.”
TPH emphasizes scalp health in its products, whereas Emerge, like Suave Professionals, underscores that it was born out from the natural hair movement.
“Emerge was designed for today’s generation of naturals who want to explore different hairstyles and lifestyles,” said Nicola Chung, Sundial Brands senior director of innovation and Emerge lead. “From the shelfie appeal of our packaging to our focus on self-expression, Emerge allows young women to braid, twist-out or wash-and-go.”
As for which brand dominates the larger textured hair conversation, it is still too early to tell. Unilever and P&G certainly have the most resources behind them, but Toya Mitchell, Mintel senior multicultural analyst, said heritage brands are falling behind as startups are moving into the big league. That’s what Pattern Beauty and TPH are hoping for.
“The product needs have not been met,” said Beach House Group co-founder Shaun Neff. “It goes back to that it’s never been a massive focus for these huge hair brands. Small incubators are serving the need while big hair companies are trying to be generalists.”
Henson echoed similar sentiments on the void. “I love Rihanna, so buying Fenty makes me feel like I’m behind her. With TPH by Taraji, I didn’t want to leave anyone out. This is just a springboard for me to do more for my community,” she said. “I’m with them.”