Who’s Selling You The Weave?
We know that black women spend more money on hair weave, but who’s selling it and getting rich? The answer to that question isn’t hard to find being that on almost every corner in the African-American community there’s an Korean owned beauty supply store that caters to black hair care. Black women have always influenced the hair industry but fall short in the industry.
The Black hair care industry is grossly underestimated, and knowingly so. Market research firm Mintel estimated the size of the 2012 market at $684 million, with a projection of $761 million by 2017. But Mintel also wisely notes:
What’s missing from these figures are general market brands, weaves, extensions, wigs, independent beauty supply stores, distributors, e-commerce, styling tools and appliances. If all of those things were to be taken into consideration, the $684 million in expenditures could reach a whopping half trillion dollars.Half trillion, as is in $500 billion. That’s more than double Greece’s Gross Domestic Product.Hair is an important aspect of Black female culture, so it’s unsurprising that we potentially spend that much money on our hair. Good Hair, the 2009 documentary by comedian Chris Rock, shined a spotlight on the business of black hair, particularly our use of relaxers and weaves and the sources of the extensions so many women sew into their hair. Since Rock’s reveal of the industry, much has and hasn’t changed in the world of Black hair.
What’s Stayed the Same: High Spending & Weaves
We’re still spending a lot of money on our hair. The market remained relatively unscathed during the recession, while other industries faltered and since then Black haircare has seen moderate but steady growth. All product categories within the market have factored into the industry’s overall growth, except for relaxer sales, which, since 2008 have declined.
According to Mintel, “Relaxers represent 21 percent of the black haircare market with expenditures at $152 million, down 15 percent since 2011 due to the natural hair trend.”
Interestingly enough, despite the growing move from relaxed hair to hair that is not chemically treated (natural hair), sales of weaves and wigs also experienced growth. Mintel reports “Nearly six out of 10 Black consumers wear a wig, weave or extensions, which enables them to switch up their look.”
Wigs and weaves may still be a part of Black hair culture because hair versatility is somewhat intrinsic to the culture. Many Black women change their hairstyles frequently, no matter the texture. Fake hair allows for even larger pool of hairstyle options and when used correctly, can give one’s real hair a break from manipulation and hence mitigate breakage. Reference: ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/antonia-opiah/the-changing-business-of-_b_4650819.html )
Who’s Running the Game?
The Black hair care market is at least an $684 million industry. Hardly any of that cash makes it back to the Black community. A walk into your local beauty supply store will typically reveal a slew of brands that are Korean-owned.
Oddly enough, in 1965 the Korean government banned the export of raw hair, making it impossible for U.S. business owners to manufacture wigs using Korean tresses. Not long afterward, the U.S. government banned the import of any wig that contained hair from China. As a result, Korean business owners were able to dominate supply and distribution of weaves, wigs and extensions. Aaron Ranen’s 2006 Black Hair documentary estimates that Koreans own close to 60% of the Black hair care industry market share.