How Target, Ulta, Amazon and others rate

Of all the beauty retail chains in the US, there may be only one that aims to be both black-owned and operate as a marketplace exclusively for black-owned brands. And it’s just now opening its flagship store, in Chicago, in April.

It’s not for lack of consumers. Black Beauty Collective founder Leslie Roberson wants to fill the lingering need for Black-owned beauty products through an entrepreneurial collective of such brands under one roof. Roberson envisions a store in every major city, and the exponential power of the American black market shows that her vision is 20/20.

Black population expected to grow 22% between 2020 and 2060, according to Nielsen
survey, while the White (non-Hispanic) population is projected to shrink by 27%. By 2024, spending power among Blacks is expected to reach $1.8 trillion, compared to $971 billion in 2010.

This change should be reflected on retail shelves. However, stroll down any store aisle, anywhere, and a shopper is unlikely to find a selection of products proportionately reflective of the large, lucrative and influential black market.

This lack is not limited to beauty. Efforts like Roberson’s are helping to change that (as are TikTok videos like Lizzo’s calling out the black-owned products she uses).

Retailers pay 15%, or more

Many retailers have implemented in-house programs in recent years to add more Black-owned labels to their shelves. Many of these efforts were in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

In 2020, activist and designer Aurora James launched the Fifteen Percent Pledge, a response to the police killing of George Floyd. Project goal: Get retailers to allocate at least 15% of their shelf space to black-owned brands, reflecting the percentage of the US population that is black.

Since then, many retailers have joined the pledge, which is a formal contract, or started similar initiatives. Among these efforts:

Macy’s joined the Fifteen Percent Pledge in 2020 and by March 2022 had quintupled the number of black-owned products it sells (Bloomberg). Also, in 2022, Macy’s invested $30 million in a funding program for underrepresented and diverse businesses. The program, called SPUR Pathways, will ultimately provide access to $200 million through partnerships.

In 2020, home furniture chain West Elm, In addition to pledging to increase its selection of Black-owned brands to 15%, it also pledged to increase its collaborations with Black designers and artists, as well as the number of Black employees in its corporate workforce, to at least 15%.


in 2021 it pledged to invest more than $2 billion in black-owned businesses by 2025. This includes a goal of doubling the number of black-owned brands it sells. As of spring 2022, Target carried more than 100 black-owned brands and had increased its investment in black-owned businesses and suppliers by more than 50 percent.

In 2021, Walmart

directed $2.9 million in new grants to organizations that provide financing and business training to black business owners, according to Winsight Grocery Business. Walmart’s “Black & Unlimited” microsite is dedicated to Black-founded brands and their founders.


in 2021 introduced the Black Business Accelerator, a suite of resources, including funding, training and marketing support, for black-owned businesses that sell on the site. Amazon has committed $150 million over four years to help thousands of black-owned businesses.

Sephora was the first major company

to commit to the Fifteen Percent Pledge, Glossy magazine reported. At the time, it counted eight black-owned brands, which by 2022 had more than doubled. The beauty chain Ultawhich also joined the Fifteen Percent Pledge, had also more than doubled the number of black-owned brands in 2021, to 28 from 13, CNBC reported.

It is in this environment that the Black Beauty Collective struts their stuff, seizing an opportunity that has gone unrecognized or ignored for far too long.

5 Characteristics of Black Consumer Spending

However, meeting the preferences and needs of the black customer requires more than putting brands on the shelves. An investment in behavioral analysis of a complex, diverse and evolving population is needed.

See what retailers can learn from efforts like Black Beauty Collective’s and others.

  1. Black consumers provide equal support for support. Of the social causes that influence their purchases, black shoppers are most likely to spend at retailers and brands with programs to end racial injustice (56%), promote equality (53%) and reduce food insecurity (53%), Nielsen reports.
  2. They want to see themselves in the goods. Black consumers are 162% more likely than the average US consumer to feel good about celebrities who share their ethnic background, according to a report by Katz Multicultural. Brands and retail destinations can improve representation not only in packaging, but in messaging and signage.
  3. They are less committed to the brand. Black shoppers are 25% more likely to switch brands than non-black consumers, McKinsey reports. The findings suggest that the lack of loyalty stems from a sense of neglect and undervaluation.
  4. Black consumers are more likely to make “smart” purchases. Because of differences in broadband connections and computer availability, black shoppers are more “mobile first” than the rest of the population, McKinsey finds. This makes them more likely to shop with digital apps, so investments in marketing communications that reflect these shoppers would probably be good.
  5. And black consumers buy a lot non-Black beauty products. Yes, black shoppers spend a ton of money on ethnic hair and beauty — an estimated $54 million out of $63 million, according to a 2018 Nielsen report. But they also spend more than their population size on overall beauty, including women’s fragrances (22.4% of total spending) and men’s grooming products (20%).

Black opportunity runs deeper than skin color

However, the benefits of identifying the black market should not be quantified in percentages or dollars. It should be appreciated in that which is reaped towards awareness. By proactively inviting black-owned brands to represent on the shelves, retail leaders are agreeing to a cultural enlightenment.

In short, they learn to do it United Nationslearn their typical practices. Black-owned brands and their creators bring much more than products to the shelf. they bring new thinking. They open doors to a more collaborative and inclusive market. where everyone counts, equally.

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