Women of Colour and their Love Affair with MAC

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.

  • http://www.missstylicious.blogspot.com safira

    I am a MAC lover, but before I turned to MAC I was an Estee Lauder devotee. Before that Clarins, and before that I attempted to use drug store makeup, but made do with pasty looking colours that I could get away with being on the fairer shade of Asian.
    There are other brands out there that do a good job, but they don’t have a vast range like MAC. I was quite happy with my Estee Lauder double wear foundation, but then my local stockist stopped stocking my shade, and I wasn’t happy compromising being a bit darker, or a bit lighter than I needed to be. But when I tried MAC Studio Fix I preferred the texture of this, the look, and they had my exact shade. Definitely a winner for me until other brands start stocking more shades.

  • http://samram1214.blogspot.co.uk sam ram

    I think Mac is the most popular because its the cheapest high end brand. People start at Mac and work their way up. I personally only use Mac for their lipsticks because I like the formular. In terms of colour, the drugstores produce the perfect shades for Asian skintone and black. Brand like Sleek, who were originally designed for Black people, also seems to be a perfect drugstore brand that caters to black people. L’Oreal have a big foundation coloure range and they have Beyonce modelling their foundation shade. Revlon has Halle Berry and produce amazing lip products for coloured women.

    I personally believe people shop in Mac because it is convenient, cheaper and bigger. In Selfriges the Mac stand is huge compared to Laura Mercier, bobbi brown, chanel, Illamasque, estee lauder – you name it. Mac does have a wide selection of colours but to me, they usually get the undertones wrong, even for my friend who are darker skintone. In terms of colour, Bobbi Brown, also under the parent company Estee lauder, cater very well for coloured women. I think the price is what scares people away. A Bobbi Brown foundation is almost £10 more than a Mac foundation. But agree, brands like Estee Lauder and Laura Mercier don’t cater to us.

    Interesting post. I loved reading it xx

  • http://msdieynaba.blogspot.com MsDieynaba

    Couldn’t agree more! MAC took care of us from the start, when other brands neglected us. Now that they see the potential benefit of catering to WOC, they try to get attention with the release of “new darkest shades”. Honestly, they sound like phonies to me.
    Also, I’m surprised about YSL coming with one of those shades. I used to buy the Touche Eclat faithfully, but they discontinued it in the “colored” shade, which I used to get >:(
    I like to try makeup here and there, but I know that whatever happens, MAC got my back :)

  • http://www.ondolady.com/ Ondo Lady

    Great post! You just nailed it on the head. I started using MAC a good few years ago and I cannot bear the thought of trying anything else. Once you go MAC you can’t go back. Also great marketing analogy and one that all brands should adhere to.

  • http://kissthedragon.tumblr.com KissTheDragon

    As much as I agree with this article i must disagree with the fact that MAC was the only company catering to us. Are you forgetting about Fashion Fair, and Flori Roberts? On the lower end we had Posner, Black Radiance, and Zuri Cosmetics who have been around for a long time.

    • Hafsa Issa-Salwe

      Hi, there’s definitely other brands that have catered to women of colour however I speak as a woman in the UK and I’ve unfortunately never heard of Flori Roberts, Posner, Black Radiance or Zuri Cosmetics, just Fashion Fair which is hardly known. The USA has a lot more brands catering to women of colour. Even IMAN Cosmetics which was here has now disappeared and is nowhere to be found!

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