Demographic Spotlight: African American Women + Personal Care Routines

Posted by
Cyndy Willis-Chun on 1/15/20 2:22 PM

If your New Year’s resolution includes adopting a new routine, you’re in good company. In social media conversations about Personal Care, discussion of routines were up more than 20% year-over-year in December 2019 and we’re seeing that growth continue into January.

That Personal Care routines are more popular among women probably isn’t a surprise, but when we looked more closely at the data we realized that there’s a whole lot more going on. In fact, in a Personal Care context, conversations about routines skew African American, meaning that they’re especially pertinent to this consumer segment:

Race_Ethnicity of Women Who Talk about _Personal Care Routines (1)

African Americans over-index in Personal Care conversations about routines, while other ethnicities under-index with the topic. Data Source: Social Standards Market Insights - Global, Dec 2019.


This data is a testament to the importance of routine to the African American women consumer cohort. But why are routines so central to this demographic? We looked at what Black women are saying on social media to find out.


Hair care is queen

Looking at the topics that appear most often in African American women’s Personal Care conversations, hair and scalp health are leading concerns:

African American Womens Top Hair Concerns

Hair and scalp concerns skew strongly toward African American women, with less than 20% of all other Personal Care topics appearing more frequently in their conversations. Data Source: Social Standards Market Insights - Global, Dec 2019.


Although most of these concerns are shared by women of all ethnicities, they’re especially salient to Black women. For example, women as a whole talk about heat damage enough to place them in the 68th percentile, indicating that the concern is a common one. But African Americans fall into the 95th percentile for heat damage mentions, meaning only 5% of all other Personal Care topics appear more frequently in their conversations.

The African American hair care market is massive, with Mintel estimating Black consumers’ hair care expenditure at more than $2.5 billion in 2018. Brands looking to become part of Black women’s Personal Care routine should consider focusing on product formulations and messaging that address scalp and hair health. By appealing to their interests, brands can establish their understanding of and relevance to this enormous (and often underserved) consumer cohort.


For skin, evenness is in

African American women’s interest in Personal Care routines doesn’t end at hair, however. Black women are also concerned about their skin, with evenness in regard to both blemishes and oiliness taking center stage:

African American Womens Top Skin Concerns (2)

Concerns about hyperpigmentation are strongly associated with African American women, but they’re also worried about blemishes generally. Data Source: Social Standard Market Insights - Global, Dec 2019.


Again, while these topics are of interest to consumers generally, they’re especially relevant to African American women. Products that can deliver a double shot of even skin tone and oil/blemish control are likely to be especially attractive to consumers working to balance multiple concerns that ultimately result in a natural look.

Legacy brands are the body care brands most relevant to Black women, with players like Dr. Bronner's, Olay, and Neutrogena appearing among the top contenders:

Legacy body care brands like Dr. Bronner's, Cetaphil, CeraVe, Olay, and Neutrogena are specially relevant to African American women.

Legacy body care brands are especially salient to African American women. Data Source: Social Standards Market Insights - Global, Dec 2019.


Decades of trust and results-focused product lines may account for the relevance of these brands among African American women. Brands that want a spot on this list should consider deemphasizing general claims about cleansing and moisturizing. Instead, they should position themselves as solutions for concerns like evenness that are specific to the consumer segment.



Consumers are increasingly accustomed to brands courting them based on extremely personalized needs and concerns. While truly personalized skincare formulations may be out of scope for many mass market brands, relying on one-size-fits-all products and positioning is no longer an option.

By aligning themselves with concerns specific to African American women, brands may be able to protect their market share against innovative upstarts targeting this demographic—or even become disruptors themselves.


Did you know African Americans are also some of the most passionate consumers of cosmetics? Check out our post about The Contemporary Cosmetics Consumer to find out what today's cosmetics consumer looks like when it comes to age, race, gender, and income.

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Topics: social data, consumer, consumer analytics, personal care, market insights

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