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Cosmetics Executive Women Agree: Hispanic Consumers Must Be a Priority

I recently joined Linda Levy, vice president of Merchandise Marketing for Cosmetics and Fragrances at Macy’s and Alexandra Vegas, director of the Multicultural Business Development Organization at Procter & Gamble, at a Cosmetics Executive Women (CEW) event aimed at marketing beauty to the Hispanic consumer. At this New York City gathering of retail, beauty and cosmetic professionals, my fellow panelists and I offered insights and strategies on how to drive sales with Hispanic consumers.

“We really need to get to know this customer,” Levy stated. “This is our biggest opportunity for the next couple of years.” Levy emphasized that communicating with Latinas in Spanish was a key strategy to court this valuable shopper.

At the event, I emphasized how Hispanic women and men over-index in terms of beauty consumption and overall attitudes.  A Univision study on Latina beauty shows that 45 percent of Hispanic women believe outer beauty is a reflection of inner beauty, a trait instilled at a young age by beauty-conscious Latina mothers. The study showed that Hispanic women feel outer beauty empowers them and gives them confidence to face the world. Some other key findings of the study include: wearing makeup and looking good is essential to 69 percent of Hispanic women compared with 46 percent of the general population; 81 percent of Hispanic women often use multiple products in a typical day and Latinas often search for natural ingredients vs. 66 percent of the general population; 32 percent of Latinas are also willing to spend more on beauty products and equate brands that are expensive with brands that work vs. 19 percent of the general population. Latinas are most likely to say: “My face has no budget.”

The CEW panel also addressed Latino’s grooming habits, revealing that Hispanic men associate grooming products with personal confidence and attractiveness. They also believe that looking good is a way to get ahead in life and at work.

In fact, Hispanic men spend $8 more per month than non-Hispanic men for hair styling products, moisturizer and fragrances. Other distinguishing factors that set Hispanic men apart, include eyebrow grooming and eye cream use. Additionally, 34 percent of Latinos shower twice a day compared to 16 percent of the general population of men, while 64 percent of Hispanic men say they are “scent seekers” compared to 31 percent if the general population of men.

The study also found that both Hispanic men and women say they feel “invited by a brand” that speaks to them directly. Hispanic consumers are hungry for education and information on the products that fit their specific needs. Retailers that want to court this consumer can do so with Spanish-language advertisements, direct mail and bilingual in-store demonstrations. Beauty imagery and talent should also be reflective of the U.S. Hispanic face.

Macy’s has certainly taken this lead.  With more than 800 stores, many located in heavily Hispanic-populated areas, the retailer has made Latinos a priority. That is a smart move as Hispanics represent anywhere from a quarter to half the population in key sales markets.

P&G’s multicultural expert Alexandra Vegas told the CEW audience that at P&G they have found that Latina faces can work across both English- and Spanish-language audiences.  To this end, they are now using Eva Mendes as the face of U.S. Pantene, Sofia Vergara for Cover Girl and Jennifer Lopez for Gillette Venus.

Vegas noted: “If brands are serious about marketing to the Hispanic consumer, it has to be a long-term commitment. It should be made part of the early design stage for new products, and be made a priority through each process including in store elements and packaging.”

The points expressed by the panelists during the CEW event and the enthusiasm received by the nearly 300 guests prove that Hispanic consumers have been recognized by manufacturer and retailer alike as a critical engine of growth in the U.S. for decades to come. To read WWD’s coverage on the CEW event, “Speaking the Language of the Latin Conusmer,” click here.  And for WWD’s  insightful look at the Latina consumer, “The  Next Generation in Beauty: Viva Latina,” click here.

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