The winds of change in the African hair care arena

The African haircare industry has undergone quite a transformation over the past five years and that should continue heading into the next decade. As more and more Afro-American consumers are embracing their natural self and walking away from relaxers, it is presenting opportunities for natural brands to enter the market. 

Mintel research indicates that wearing their natural hair makes Afro-American women feel liberated, confident and different from others, giving them a tremendous sense of pride in their race and culture while displaying their natural beauty. Though the price of many of these haircare products are high, these consumers appear willing to pay the price for a natural look.

The current situation in the U.S., where sales of the overall Afro-American wet haircare market in 2015 is estimated as $2.7 billion, is as follows:

Hair Relaxers: Sales dropped with 18.6% from 2013 – 2015, and by 2020 will have shrunk to the smallest segment in the Afro-American by 2020.

Perms seem to have taken the stage again, being used as texturisers or to loosen very tight curls, without the harsh side-effects of relaxers.

Styling products: Total sales have increased 26.8 percent from 2013 to estimated 2015, reaching $946 million, of which 35% comprises of African haircare sales. Sales are projected to reach $1.4 billion by 2020.

Shampoos: Sales increased with 18.3 percent from 2013-2015.

Conditioners: Sales increased by 9.8 percent from 2013 - 2015.

Supporting the consumer shift away from relaxers and toward natural hair styles, sales in the U.S for dry hair care products in 2015 were as follows:

Wigs, weaves and extensions or styling tools: 63% of African-American women spent on average $239 over a period of 6 months. These products are popular because they satisfy the desire of more than 80% African-American women of wanting an effective, simple and easy to maintain grooming routine. These products make it easy for consumers to alter their hairstyles and appearance on a regular basis, going from short to long, curly to straight or weave to braids.

Reliable statistics about the African hair care market in South Africa is not readily available, but a conservative estimation by Garron Reynolds, MD of Fr!ka Hair is that the dry hair market spend is in the order of R3 billion (65%), and the wet market spend about R1,5 billion (35%).