April 30, 2021
Haweya Mohamed co-founded Platform The, head of Africa’s Technology Industry Networking Forum Afrobytes. color Earlier this year, it aims to promote diversity and inclusion in the two major sectors of fashion and beauty, and to support brands that are embracing multiculturalism.
Entrepreneurs who have worked for some of the largest international audiovisual groups talk about the origins of this new platform and the need for brands and large groups to adapt to the reality of consumer diversity to survive.
How did you come up with the idea for The Colors platform?
The idea for the Colors project came from observation. The products and services offered by large companies do not fully meet the aspirations of multicultural consumers. According to official US Census Bureau statistics, in the United States, the world’s largest consumer market today, 40% of people recognize that they are Latino, black, or Asian. These “minority-majority” groups are expected to account for more than 50% of North America’s population by 2045, as is already the case in most major cities such as New York and San Francisco. Culturally, we do not make this kind of demographic count in Europe. However, whether in London, Paris, Berlin or Brussels, consumers in major shopping areas are clearly multicultural. And what about 1.2 billion Africans, who will soon reach 2 billion, with ever-increasing purchasing power? Therefore, Colors consumes these consumers first and foremost by accompanying brands that want to better understand and serve these consumers and by accelerating startups that are 100% targeting these markets. It’s about the desire to deal with the consumer market.
What is the purpose of The Colors?
Our intention is to make The Colors a reference platform for decision makers seeking expertise in how to deal with these markets. It also aims to help entrepreneurs work on multicultural groups or promote skills and expertise in the African continent by contributing to the promotion of diversity and inclusive subjects in the areas of fashion and beauty. The platform brings together experts such as Desiree Reid, who launched Iman Cosmetics. Jackie Celestin, who has been L’Oréal’s Diversity Chief for a long time. Noelly Michoux, who recently raised money for startup 4.5.6 Skin, and many others. It also attracts consumers who are very demanding on diversity issues and interact with entrepreneurs.
The Colors motto is “Diversity is a fact. Inclusion is a choice.” Do you think today’s fashion and beauty brands are inclusive?
Diversity is a statistical fact, not a desire or claim. When it comes to inclusion, it’s an economical choice that simply wants to sell to more people. In the future, given the numbers above, it will be “sell at all”. I feel that there will be no brands that do not deal with the reality of consumer diversity, or at least their influence will be significantly reduced. So basically it doesn’t matter to anyone but yourself. The startups we work with are “multicultural native” and 100% digital. Challenge to traditional brands faced by Digitally Native vertical For example, brands must not miss the opportunity for multicultural transformation, just as they must not miss the opportunity for digital transformation. Otherwise, you will be disappointed. The most successful brands are comprehensive: Nike, Ulta Beauty, H & M, The Land, Mented Cosmetics, Estée Lauder … For others, there is still work to be done. For many marketing and communication decision makers, embracing multiculturalism means leaving their cultural comfort zone.
Why is it still difficult to find hair products, creams, or makeup for all skin colors or all hair types today?
The problem begins at the laboratory level. Do they work on all skin types? Is the person fully interested in the subject of diversity in order to create a formulation suitable for skin type 4, 5, or 6? The answer lies in the number of laboratories that specialize in this type of formulation. Of course, there are also distribution issues. The Colors’ goal is to promote the creation and know-how of African entrepreneurs in the fields of fashion and beauty. What are the obstacles you face most often?
Colors wants to celebrate diversity through entrepreneurial success without much focus on known obstacles (lack of visibility, little or no access to retail, and of course little funding). I will. The Colors also wants to promote the African agricultural sector. When we talk about natural products such as shea, coconut oil, ylang-ylang, argan, or textiles such as organic cotton, we just talk about agriculture. Promoting the fields of fashion and beauty can also have a greater impact on employment and women’s agricultural entrepreneurship.
How do you support them when they develop their brand?
Our main means of action are the community of professionals, the digital expertise of the Afrobytes community serving The Colors community, and our visibility. Next is matchmaking in our DNA. Afrobytes’ strength is its ability to bring together communities on three continents: Europe, where we are based, the United States, where we have key technology partners, and finally, Africa, where we have supported entrepreneurs for many years.
New brands have the potential to change the game, but shouldn’t the giants in these sectors also do something?
Large companies often focus on acquiring growing brands, but they need to ask themselves. Is there someone in your company who understands what’s happening and can help you develop a product that meets your specific needs? A recent study in the United States found that multicultural consumers drove the growth of beauty products in 2020. It is important to note that multicultural consumers are paying more and more attention to who manufactures and sells the brands and products they buy. It is up to the brand and retailer to meet the needs of these consumers.
Can Gen Z make the fashion and beauty industries more comprehensive with the introduction of Generation Z in this market?
Gen Z is essentially a multicultural segment of the world’s population.Many brands still don’t understand how to deal effectively MillennialsNot to mention Generation Z, which presents even greater marketing hurdles. But understanding Gen Z is understanding multicultural consumers.
In an ideal scenario, how will these two industries evolve over the next decade?
There is a survey I often cite. This was done by a Nielsen analyst in the United States and told major brands: ‘If you don’t have a branded multicultural strategy, you may not have a brand. Next 10 years. Multicultural consumers are the fastest growing consumer segment in the United States, so it’s important to build cultural ties with them.
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Haweya Mohamed, founder of Colors, talked about why brands need to embrace diversity as a “statistical reality.”
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