August 26, 2019

Is the Future of beauty in serving unmet needs?

Tristan Walker // WTF BEAUTY

Back in the day, Tristan Walker was a Silicon Valley wunderkind. He was still working on his Stanford MBA when he joined then-red-hot startup Foursquare as director of business development.

From there he went on to famed venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, where he prepared for his next move: launching his own beauty and grooming company with a flagship brand, Bevel. Walker & Co. has since been acquired by Procter & Gamble. When Walker asks What the Future, he’s wondering how quickly he can scale solutions for the considerable unmet and overlooked needs of people of color.

WTF: Why do you think that, given their cultural influence, it’s taken so long for some groups to have their needs met by beauty and grooming products?

Tristan Walker: The obvious reason is a lot of folks in positions to do this aren’t reflective of the consumers they serve. One of the wonderful things about Walker & Co. is that we’re minority-majority—folks of color, majority woman, majority woman of color in leadership.

WTF: Do you feel that men in general are also an underserved market or maybe they’re just starting to learn that there’s more to grooming than, you know, splashing on some aftershave and combing their hair?

Walker: I don’t think men are underserved. I think that there is, or has been, a lack of education about what could work. We’re seeing a much faster-growing trend of men taking ownership of their own grooming habits and routines. Folks want to take care of themselves in a way that they hadn’t before.

WTF:  Research shows that men don’t tend to talk about grooming with other men, but do research online. As there are more grooming blogs and style blogs and Instagram influencers and all those things, is that where that education is starting to happen?

Walker: One of the interesting nuances here is about cultural influence for our audience. Folks of color, particularly black consumers, have really been the arbiters of culture, because once you walk out of your house people see it: Beats by Dre headphones, Ciroc vodka and stuff like that. When you think about health and beauty, folks don’t necessarily see the face wash that you’re putting on your face. Folks don’t necessarily see the trimmer you might be using at home. So, I think it’s been a slower roll relative to some other categories because you don’t see it. But now folks are taking more ownership of their appearance and how they feel that visual comes [into play] in their own confidence and self-assurance. We get stories from folks who go out on job interviews, and they can do it more confidently because now they feel that they can shave with tools that work. This idea of “showing up” now provides an opportunity for people to be able to talk about it.

WTF: In the survey data, we see that black and white Americans generally feel their beauty and grooming needs are being met by products on the market. How do you think that would have looked in the past and will look in five to 10 years?

Walker: I think 10 years ago it would have been even lower than what I think it really is today. Ten years from now, I’m assured that that number will be much higher because we exist.

Do your products need to be developed by people like you?

It is important that my... products are developed and sold by people of my cultural background.

U.S (agree net) Canada (agree net)

Scalp care Scalp care 26% 15%

Hair care Hair care 30% 21%

Cosmetics Cosmetics 24% 15%

Skin care Skin care 29% 20%

Shaving and grooming Shaving and grooming 26% 16%


Source: Ipsos survey conducted July 2 to 4, 2019, among 1,208 U.S. adults and July 5 to July 10 among 1,000 adults in Canada

tristan walker

Tristan Walker, Founder, CEO Walker & Co.

62%
of black Americans say their beauty and grooming needs are unique to people of their cultural background, vs. 16% of white Americans.
(Source: Ipsos survey conducted July 2 to 4, 2019, among 1,208 U.S. adults.)

divider

share on linkedin

“I don’t think men are underserved. I think that there is, or has been, a lack of education about what could work.”

WTF: And P&G just launched the “My Black is Beautiful” line, too.

Walker: They did a great job. I mean this is exactly what P&G does better than anybody, right? Understanding what the consumer needs and delivering on it and having the ability to do it at scale.

WTF: In our survey, Asian and Latino consumers were less likely to say their needs were met by existing products. Does that point to additional markets with unmet needs?

Walker: “Needs” is an interesting word. Do I have the products that I need that are articulated in a way that I need [them] articulated to me? Do you have Spanish-language text on your website? Are you engaging with us in your advertising, with folks who look like me? There is a whole world of needs within this very singular product. I can relate to Latino and Asian consumers. They’ve had needs since the start of the world. The world’s been around millennia and it’s 2019 and they’re still feeling that way. That’s a shame, but it’s also the opportunity.

WTF: You’re creating products to solve needs that have traditionally been solved in the salon and barbershop. How does that interact with barbershop culture?

Walker: A lot of men rely on women in their lives to help with their kind of beauty habits. The barber also plays an important role. The first time I got a shave, it was at a barbershop, frankly because I was scared to do it myself. The barber teaches you with a straight razor, and specifically how it exfoliates the skin. We can leverage the barber as a conduit for the education that we need.

Are Hispanic Americans the next underserved market?

My personal beauty and grooming needs are met by products I can buy today.

Agree Neither/Don't Know Disagree

U.S. black

should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39%

U.S. white

should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39%

U.S Hispanic

should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39%

U.S. Asian

should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39%

U.S. all other

should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39%

U.S. Canada (total)

should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39%

Black Americans have unique beauty needs.

My personal beauty and grooming needs are unique to people of my cultural background.

U.S. black

should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39%

U.S. white

should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39%

U.S Hispanic

should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39%

U.S. Asian

should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39%

U.S. all other

should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39%

U.S. Canada (total)

should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39%

White Americans are less likely to see their individual beauty needs as unique.

My personal beauty and grooming needs are unique to myself.

U.S. black

should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39%

U.S. white

should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39%

U.S Hispanic

should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39%

U.S. Asian

should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39%

U.S. all other

should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39%

U.S. Canada (total)

should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39% should it be legal39%

(Source: Ipsos survey conducted between March 5 and March 6, 2019 among 1,006 adults age 21 and over in the U.S.)

Subscribe to the Ipsos Future Monthly Newsletter

Receive monthly insights, perspectives, and research tips from experts across all of Ipsos' specialty research practices.


What the Future is a quarterly deep dive into different aspects of consumer and social thought and behavior. Each edition features exclusive new data from world-leading research firm Ipsos. WTF explores how a single industry or behavior fits into the broader culture now and in the coming decades. Read Previous WTF Issues »


divider

share on linkedin

, Founder, CEO, Walker & Co



Editors Picks

Beauty

Are natural and clean beauty products scalable?

Alex Keith has concerns that many start-up and boutique beauty brands don’t. read more »

Subscribe to Ipsos Future

Receive timely insights to inform your research needs

ipsos

© Ipsos 2019, All right reserved

ipsos