Business, beauty, and darker skins
Luxury-business strategist Uche Pézard asked delegates from around the world at this week's Condé Nast international luxury conference in Cape Town: "Do you love Africa?"
Her follow-up question was: "Do you love Africans?"
Speaking at the two-day annual event, Pézard noted the growth of black fashion and beauty awareness, and the impact this is having on the beauty and fashion industry.
She said the beauty industry was having to rethink its approach, because of the growing proportion of people with darker complexions.
"We're more exposed to the sun, more than we should be, and other factors like immigration and intermarriage will also contribute," said Pézard.
But high-profile celebrities have also driven demand for better products.
"The beauty sector has been revolutionised recently for many reasons, like the arrival of Fenty Beauty [by singer Rihanna] and the world demonstration of the power of diversity in beauty, which is backed up by numbers," said Pézard.
Fenty Beauty, a cosmetics brand launched in 2017, generated sales of $72m (about R1bn) in its first week.
"Everyone can see the financial results of Fenty and the impact it has had. So all the major beauty brands had to revisit their business models and readjust accordingly."
Susan Akkad, a senior vice-president at Estée Lauder, told delegates that South Africans and Nigerians defined beauty differently. "Our research [shows] South Africans prefer to be authentic with their beauty while Nigerians are aesthetic," she said.
Estée Lauder's brands include Mac, Smashbox and Clinique, all of which offer products in a variety of darker shades or tones.
"Our goal was understanding the nuances of skin tone, and we've done a lot of research where we do image photography with women all over the world," said Akkad. "We look at the lightness and the darkness and the undertone."
She said Estée Lauder's foundation business in SA was now leaning towards products that offer darker shades.
"We're happy to have made the investment into the darker shades. It wasn't just a commercial decision, but the right decision due to the fact that we have to recognise that the world is getting darker. It's important for us to get it right for SA."
But catering to all consumers means understanding the diversity of a wider consumer base.
Pézard, who founded the Luxury Connect Africa trade show in Paris, said: "Beauty is defined in different ways and people define it differently even here in Africa, where the majority of the people are dark-skinned. Inclusivity is very important for these brands."..