Kristen Boesel
Kristen is a Senior Lifestyles & Leisure Analyst at Mintel. She conducts consumer research and analysis for US Lifestyles and Leisure Reports and advises clients on consumer attitudes and behaviors.

Knowing how racial or cultural background can influence perspectives and purchase decisions will help brands understand when to emphasize these elements in marketing campaigns.

According to Mintel research on lifestyles of multicultural young adults, nearly nine in 10 black young adults say they have or would buy something to support a business owner who shared their cultural background.

Good intentions have potential to make a positive difference

Recently, beauty retailer Sephora made headlines by signing the 15 Percent Pledge to allocate at least 15% of its shelf-space for products made by Black-owned companies. To help reach this goal, Sephora has promised to focus its female-founder incubator project, Accelerate, on women of color.

Mass retailer Target has not signed the Pledge, but has unveiled a logo to indicate Black-owned or Black-founded brands in the ‘At a Glance’ section at the bottom of a product’s page. Target also highlights female beauty founders of color on its website’s ‘Beauty for All’ page.

What we think

Recent mainstream conversations surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement have drawn attention to the challenges that Black-owned brands and small businesses face, and demand for opportunities to support the Black community is increasing among consumers of all backgrounds.

Sephora and Target have taken positive steps toward highlighting Black-owned brands but can show even greater commitment by improving the search functions of their e-commerce sites. The ongoing pandemic has driven lots of consumers online, making the already important role of a website’s user experience absolutely essential.

Currently, online shoppers are unable to search within the sites for brands and products tagged as Black-owned/founded. Shoppers who know the name of a brand already, like Fenty or TPH by Taraji, can navigate to those products, but opportunities for the discovery of new brands are limited.

Now is the time for mass retailers to empower all shoppers to support a wider selection of Black-owned brands and businesses by expanding focus to categories beyond beauty. Many young adult consumers, regardless of race, would be interested in supporting Black-owned brands in categories like packaged foods, apparel, or housewares, but it is incumbent on retailers to make these brands and products easy for consumers to find.