Make-up has always been a fascinating little art to me ever since I was the tender age of 9 and my first introductory brands were Fashion Fair, Iman Cosmetics and of course MAC. I’d watch my mother and her friends apply their bullet shaped lipsticks whilst getting ready to go out for the evening. It was just something I knew I’d be doing ‘when I get older’. Now that I’m older, my love for MAC hasn’t died down and almost every woman I know who comes from a minority background feels the same towards MAC. Whether she’s got skin as dark as mahogany or she’s a caramel complexioned woman, she must love MAC.
I’ve always wondered why it is that whenever I visit the beauty hall of Selfridges I see swarms of women around MAC whilst Laura Mercier who’s right in front of them doesn’t receive as much attention. Or when I go to the MAC store at Westfields, there’s queues of women of colour outside the store waiting to be served yet not too far away there’s a humongous Boots store with premium cosmetics brands such as Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Dior and they don’t garner so many customers in one place. Is it because MAC positions and markets themselves as the coolest make-up brand around? Nope, because I also see grown women who are 30+ amongst their loyal fans and someone of that age group isn’t exactly going to be attracted to marketing campaigns using Ricky Martin, Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga. Is it because of the great quality? Maybe, but wouldn’t previously mentioned premium brands be more highly regarded? Is it because MAC is one of the very few brands that recognises the many hues and shades that us women come in and deliver not only what could be called a spectacular colour range of foundations, powders and concealers but also blushes and eye shadows that’ll suit us too? Why yes, of course!
If you ask a woman why she loves MAC, she’ll probably tell you that it’s because there’s shades for everybody. Want a pink blush? MAC has about 15 for you to try and test out. Looking for that perfect red? Take your pick of Chilli, Lady Danger, Russian Red or Ruby Woo because we all know how hard it is looking for a red lipstick to suit your undertones. MAC just gets how women vary in skin tones whereas other brands often have a limited collection of products.
I’ve been following the activities of brands very carefully this year and it’s been quite a good one for minority consumers. Chanel, Lancôme and Yves Saint Laurent have all released and launched foundations. I’ve tried and tested the foundations and have been happy with most of them where the marketing campaigns included making women like Jordan Dunn and Arlenis Sosa their face and gave the impression of them saying ‘we’re finally bothered to cater to you too!’ whereas MAC has never needed to. Have you ever in the history of MAC seen a campaign where they’ve had to highlight how dark their darkest foundation is? Never. Also, one thing that just literally came to mind was that MAC is owned by Estee Lauder who if you were to check their counter, don’t have a variety in shades (in fact, their BB cream is just one measly shade) but MAC, their daughter company does. Therefore, the arguments of ‘brands aren’t sure if darker shades will sell’ are immediately null and void. Estee Lauder has seen that it clearly sells with MAC and they will most definitely increase revenue by just adding a few more shades to their namesake brand. Or is it not that simple?
The recipe for a brand to have a strong relationship with women of colour (who tend to be very loyal customers) is to just cater to them, not make it into a huge deal that you’re finally releasing darker shades and just get on with it. Not only is it necessary to provide women of colour with foundations that are dark enough, but step it up with the blushes, eye shadows and lipsticks and that’s when women of colour will start to take notice. Ask a woman of colour what her top 5 cosmetics brands are and I promise you that she’ll mention MAC. Other brands need to think about why.