4 Ways Small Black Women-Owned Retail Brands Changed the Game

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From major brand closures to e-commerce, massive year-over-year sales growth, the face of retail is very different from what it was a few years ago. Industry experts are all trying to figure out how retail brands (big and small) can stay relevant despite all these changes. To answer that question, I’m going to look at a section of retail that rarely gets its due: Black women-owned brands, which have helped change the face of small retail businesses and multi-million dollar businesses. dollars by doing things a little differently. . Every retail owner, regardless of background, should take note and implement these four strategies exemplified by Black women entrepreneurs.


Dia Dipasupil | Getty Images

Mented Cosmetics co-founders KJ Miller (g) and Amanda E. Johnson are part of a generation of black entrepreneurs leading the way in innovation in small retail.

Related: Meet the female founders making a huge impact in 2020

1. Create a community

The word “community” has been used a lot and can mean many different things to different people. But for black women who own small retail businesses, community means her tribe. They have learned that before a new customer buys, they want to feel like they belong to something bigger than themselves. This new era customer doesn’t just want to like the products they buy or the brands they buy; they want to feel like these brands understand them and their unique needs and wants.

Brands led by black women have really captured this idea through their marketing efforts. By targeting a target audience of predominantly black women, they demonstrated an awareness that many of their customers did not feel seen by many other brands, especially mainstream brands. They knew that if they fulfilled this need to be seen and heard, their brands would stand out among the crowd and attract a buyer who yearns to be recognized and valued.

Many black women-led brands have designed their websites around this theme by talking about the community and how their products have been designed with site visitors in mind. They used email marketing to really accentuate the tribal aspect of their brand. While marketing isn’t new, these brands have gone far beyond simply communicating what’s going on with their brand and what it sells. These brands have used email marketing to truly connect with their tribe by soliciting their feedback, offering advice, checking in on their customers’ well-being, and making sure they’re up-to-date with issues. social issues that their customers cared about.

2. Create the social media VIP experience

If a small retailer wants to be relevant these days, they have to be on social media. The number of times per day or per week a small retailer should post is often up for debate. Many think it should be every day; others think it should be two or three times a day. Truly successful brands fall somewhere in the middle, posting multiple times a week. This is true for almost all retail brands.

While most retail brands live off a well-crafted social media plan, many black women-owned brands have taken this method one step further. Building on the tribal marketing method, they used social media to solidify their connection with customers in their tribe by creating a more personal, behind-the-scenes look inside their brand. Their guide might read something like this:

  1. Just socialize with your tribe/customers.
  2. Get feedback on a new product or line before it is launched to the general public.
  3. Communicate with your tribe and communicate what is happening with the brand.
  4. Bring value to your tribe by featuring industry leaders they’d love to get to know, but normally wouldn’t have access to.
  5. Offer VIP access to your brand founders/owners/CEOs to make customers feel even more connected.

The main idea is to ensure that their customers stay loyal and feel part of the decisions that are made. Again, this is something many mainstream brands don’t offer black female shoppers.

3. Create products that serve your tribe

The recent explosion of black women-owned retail brands stems from the fact that many are filling huge gaps in the market. From hair care and beauty to homewares and technology, many black female consumers feel they have been ignored in the mainstream market. Black women make up a large portion of the spending power of the $1.2 trillion black consumers, yet they feel like their voice (and their dollars) don’t matter. The new group of brands led by black women have succeeded by listening to their tribe and giving them what they really want, not what they thought they wanted.

Brands like Mented, Beauty Bakerie and Chic Geeks all saw a void they knew they could fill and which, if approached correctly, would have millions of enthusiastic fans all clamoring to be part of their tribes. Black female consumers (and female consumers in general) were fed up with the status quo and were just waiting for someone to really hear them.

The companies above, and many other brands led by black women, have answered the call to give this consumer what they want. Understanding that many black women saw a lack of lipsticks and foundations that truly matched their skin tone, Mented and Beauty Bakerie became among the first brands to develop truly “nude” lipstick and foundation. for black women. And Chic Geeks understood that women wanted to be stylish and flashy in all aspects of their lives, creating one of the premier brands of computer cases and accessories aimed at tech-savvy women.

Every decision made by these brands stemmed from meeting the needs of their tribe and growing their brand and community from there.

Related: These municipal programs give minority and women-owned businesses access to capital

4. Create more market share through brick and mortar

The majority of new retail owners that have sprung up over the past few years have been localized online. And while online retail can be very successful, it can also be difficult to expand a brand’s market share.

Many new small retailers are content to stay online and grow this business on their own. However, just as many black women-owned brands wanted something more. They knew that to really reach more people and create real impact, they would have to go offline as well.

And despite perceptions, customers continue to like to shop at brick and mortar stores. They really like to touch and try a product and get the instant gratification of an in-store purchase. Smart e-commerce brands realized that selling their products in physical stores would increase their brand reach in the market and improve customer connection. In addition, brick and mortar can take different forms:

  • Being on the shelves of big box retailers like Walmart and Target.
  • Be part of the extended categories offered at department stores like Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Ave.
  • Be part of a model store in a store of an already established brick-and-mortar brand.
  • Opened their own brick and mortar store.

By being in physical locations, these black women-owned brands have increased their market share and become industry/product leaders in their respective niches.

Related: 8 female founders talk about missed opportunities in retail

The key to staying relevant and succeeding in retail is understanding that today’s customer has also changed. They want more of their brands. They want a sense of community and a real connection. They want to know their voice is heard through products that are created with them in mind. And they want different ways to interact with their favorite brands so they really feel part of a special and unique tribe. By taking inspiration from many successful black women-led retail brands, any small retail owner can nurture a brand that is relevant, profitable, and here to stay.

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