3 reasons why Carol’s Daughter’s new marketing campaign featuring Solange, Cassie & Selita Ebanks has confused me

I remember briefly seeing a news article about Carol’s daughter’s new marketing campaign that focuses on ‘polyethnicity’. I was reading a lovely natural hair blog called NaturallyObsessed which featured a video of the three new spokeswomen talking about hair. Steve Stoute, an executive from the company told Women’s Wear Daily: 

”What we’re doing now is moving into a polyethnic space,” said Steve Stoute, chairman and lead investor of Carol’s Daughter, noting that founder Lisa Price’s brand direction has always been about inclusion, beginning with her tag line, Beauty By Nature. “We want to be the first beauty brand that truly captures the beauty of the tapestry of skin types in America. When I say polyethnic, I mean women who are made up of several ethnicity’s. If you ask them what they are, they’re going to use a lot of different words to describe themselves. That’s in line with the Census data coming out — people are checking much more than two boxes. We believe we’ve put together a shoot that celebrates many different ethnicity’s, to become a mirror of what America’s really becoming.” 

Here are three reasons why I think Carol’s Daughter’s new marketing message is confusing:

[1] Who is the target market?: I think one mistake made here is by assuming that basing a business on polyethnicity will work for black people. I am not African-American, but I am black and I would have initially seen myself as part of the target audience to purchase Carol’s Daughter products. I am not ‘polyethnic’ (is that even a word??) and I find this new attempt to make the company less black slightly weird. I thought the whole point of Carol’s Daughter was that it was filling a gap in the hair industry as an upmarket hair company for African-Americans that helps women get healthy hair.

[2] The marketing: Solange, Cassie & Selite Ebanks are all gorgeous women but I still don’t understand how they are supposed to market the brand further. I think the polyethnicity thing has thrown me off because I just find it almost bewildering. It is akin to saying that African hair patterns do not exist basically. From this marketing angle, I don’t see how it is supposed to work. Will a women with thick kinky hair be able to relate to Cassie if the brand is claiming it is all things to all women.

[3] Niche vs Mainstream: I always saw Carol’s Daughter as a mainstream brand anyway because it is one of the biggest hair brands in the black hair care industry. It was a titan and of course still is, but within the general hair care industry, it would probably be considered as a niche brand. Is this a sign that Carol’s Daughter is trying to be too mainstream?

My thoughts are that I feel slightly alienated by this new marketing campaign. Polyethnicity means nothing to me, and I think this will hurt Carol’s Daughter’s ability to work in emerging markets such as Nigeria, Ghana because it is clearly stating it is not for black people, but for everyone.


16 thoughts on “3 reasons why Carol’s Daughter’s new marketing campaign featuring Solange, Cassie & Selita Ebanks has confused me

  1. Im just seeing this post and had to reply despite it be ing written in 11.’ Now that it is 2013 I hope ur feeling different mostly thru the reliability of her products. Carol’s Daughter products is in no way shape form biased or unbiased towards one ethnic group over another. To be quite honest, we are all polyethnicity! Regardless of ur skin type or hair type we could all fit into two ethnic categories at the minimum. I feel the take home of her campaign has always been to discourage the racial divide and promote unity.

  2. I’m going to have to disagree with the posts…I look at this ad, and while their skin complexion may be relatively the same, their hair textures are different from each others. I think it speaks to the ranges of hair textures that non-white women have. While one writer may not be able to relate to Cassie’s hair, perhaps she can relate to Solange’s. Would the campaign be more inclusive if they had a darker-skinned woman with Solange’s hair? Shoot, Lisa Price herself can’t relate to Solange’s hair! For me, products like Motions are waaaaay too heavy for my hair. And considering there’s 4 different hair textures in my household, CD products work well for us.

    From a business standpoint, the CD brand is expanding. Advertising campaigns come in flights – they evolve and adapt to the times. Pantene did it. They created a completely separate look for their “ethnic” products than their “white” products. Is that what we prefer then? Clearly divided lines? And companies like Garnier, while all of the women may be white, they do have different products for different hair types – from sleek and straight to big and curly (although perhaps not necessarily kinky). But nobody’s asking them to explain their marketing campaigns, or explain why they chose who for what. A straight-haired blonde doesn’t just turn away from Garnier because it’s featuring a curly red-head in its ads. Yet we’re quick to do it to CD…

    • A straight haired blonde and a curly red head are from the same race so your argument does not hold that much water – Carol’s Daughter are effectively saying they do not want to target black women anymore.

  3. Stupid move on CD’s part. But it’ll probably make profits anyway. Haven’t bought its products in years, so no financial support from me.

    (from the former ph2072)

    • Welcome back 🙂 I do think it will make some money but for how long? The campaign seems muddled. They don’t know who their consumer is.

  4. I feel like Carol’s Daughter can just go to hell. After using Black women’s money to build her company, now she wants to go the “poly-ethnic” route. Good luck with that because “poly-ethnic” women will not be supporting Carol’s Daughter with a clearly Black woman at the helm.

    • @Aisha, I actually think this move will backfire. Can you imagine their adverts in Essence magazine saying polyethnicity. WTF are the management thinking!

      • Yes, and the sad thing is that some Black women will continue to buy. If she is going the poly-ethnic route then she needs to find some poly-ethnic magazines to advertise in instead of Black ones, lol.

  5. Good post K. I agree i was so confused on their new approach i just dont get it. Ive never bought carols daughter n i dont see myself buying any of their products anytime. Do u think thinknthe founder of CD was pushed by the industry to go this route?

    • M, I think they are following the money although in a view that only black people makes no money.

      At least companies like Luster’s know the audience that feeds them!

  6. Carol’s daughter has gone for the mainstream acceptable image of something apparently but not quite black. Which bears no resemblance to the majority. Other brands who have been inclusive have not come out with this poly-ethnic mumbo jumbo. Iman appeals to everyone by simply being inclusive. Their campaigns show this.

    UK makeup brand Sleek which initially was just exclusively for black women, sold in Afro hair shops has now having had a rebrand and new successful campaign is marketed at everyone but they have not rejected their core users nor their original target market.

    Its a shame about Carols Daughter because their brand appeals less to me now. Beauty is so much more than just a “supposed” pretty face. …. My heritage is African Caribbean, I know my gandma was Jamaican Indian but I do not cling to that. I cling to the fact that I am me an African-Caribbean who is not a trendy poly-ethnice but a Black woman.

    Anyway great reflective article

    • SoFroLushes, great to see you commenting 🙂 thanks for taking the time to comment.

      I think I am completely in agreement with you. I just don’t get why they are throwing away their core userbase which to my knowledge is black women. This polyethnicity theme seems more like an attempt to join the bandwagon.

      To my knowledge, I have never seen Garnier use a black woman in their advertisements for their hair, and that’s okay because it is for European hair.

  7. I agree. I ignored it for that reason. It seems like she’s trying to do the “colour blind” foolishness with hair. It turned me off her products even more. Not like I ever used them. I’m not a mainstream hair product kinda girl.

    • I think you made a great point: this colour blind idea in terms of hair is foolish. Black hair is totally different!

      I feel completely alienated by CD.

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