November 6, 2020

The Evolution of Africa’s Multi-Billion Dollar Hair Care Industry

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Sibonginkosi Mlalazi

In recent years we have seen African hair thrust into the spotlight because of various socio-political issues and this has resulted in African women finally starting to take charge of the narrative, in terms of how their hair is perceived and represented. In turn, the African hair care market has seen
tremendous growth as more and more African women have started embracing and celebrating their natural hair.

According to Technavio, the African hair care industry is expected to have a CAGR of 7% over 2020 – 2024, thus growing by over $936 million over the period. There are many key drivers to the growth and evolution of this multi-billion-dollar industry.

Availability of hair care products for natural hair:

Over the past few years there has been a natural hair movement that has resulted in the growth in demand for natural hair care products that address the issues that are specific to natural African hair. Companies like Clicks and Dischem in South Africa have increased natural hair care lines in their stores, as studies have shown that African women spend up to six times more on their hair than women from other races. In a market where there are in excess of 10 000 hair products available, most hair care purchases are made by black consumers.

Hair care products are indeed the next big thing in ethnic hair on the continent. Shampoos and conditioners are the biggest contributors to sales.

Clicks has leveraged the natural hair movement and created the biggest natural hair event in Africa, Clicks Curls, that takes place each year in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and is attended by thousands of natural haired African women.

Social media has been the main driver behind this natural hair care movement. Bloggers have spotted a gap in that many people of colour have previously not known what to use on their hair, and as such they review and recommend products that have worked for them.

Since these bloggers are ordinary people, they get a lot of following from the everyday person who identifies with the same hair struggles that they have.

Salons are also playing a key role in educating their clients on the many different natural hair products that have since flooded the market. Naturally so, as salons are the backbone of hair care on the continent.

Big Brands are now focusing on natural hair care:

For the longest time while walking down the aisle of big retailers, one would always find hair care products designed for other hair types instead of natural African hair.

A few companies like Soft Sheen Carson have had product offerings designed for African hair, however not necessarily natural African hair, but rather “relaxed” hair.

Recently though, we have seen an increase in big international brands coming to the party and starting to create hair products for natural hair.

Companies like Procter & Gamble and L’Oréal have managed to penetrate the natural hair care market as they stock brands that most people can recognise.

The natural hair movement has resulted in the emergence of local hair care brands that compete with global brands. A lot of these brands focus on natural ingredients to nourish African hair.

Brands such as ManeTain Organics based in Zimbabwe focus on using natural ingredients that do not damage hair or irritate the scalp.

In Ghana we have brands like Coco Black Naturals and Hair Wonder that have managed to take the market by storm, whilst Marini Naturals in Kenya is catering to the needs of the local women’s hair. Going forward, we will continue to see more and more local hair brands emerging as African women are now sure more than ever about what their hair needs and how it should be taken care of.

Sibonginkosi Mlalazi is Zimbabwean born Communications Expert based in South Africa. She is the Founder of Ingenious HD, a communications company based in Cape Town

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