Makeup artist Suzi Picaso spent years searching for cosmetics that would match the warm skin tones of her largely Hispanic clientele, but she always came up empty.
"There isn't anything for Hispanic women as far as face colors and foundations," says Ms. Picaso, a makeup artist for nearly two decades. "It's just not there."
So, she started her own cosmetics line.
Less than a year after developing Suzi Q Cosmetics – a makeup line that includes a blend of colorful eye shadows, foundations, powders, and lipsticks – Ms. Picaso caught the eye of Wal-Mart executives in town for a diversity workshop. Ms. Picaso, who lives in California's Central Valley, was giving a talk at the local chamber of commerce on marketing to Hispanic consumers.
"I was explaining to Wal-Mart what Latin women are looking for, what colors we like, and how we love seeing someone who looks like us," Ms. Picaso says. "Everyone wants our skin tone, but whatever [Hispanics] are receiving in makeup is conflicting with our skin tone. I told [Wal-Mart] they should be carrying Suzi Q Cosmetics."
They agreed. This summer, the retail giant began carrying Suzi Q in six California locations.
The makeup line will join an increasingly crowded shelf of beauty products aimed at Hispanics, ranging from inexpensive but popular Hispanic-owned brands, such as La Bella, to upscale brands promoted by the major beauty companies.
"We lose sight that Latin women spend a lot of money on beauty and fashion. It's in our culture; she wants to look beautiful," says Nina Garcia, Elle magazine's fashion director. "They're an enormous, enormous customer for retailers."
Hispanic women, whose economic power and numbers are on the rise, are an increasingly attractive market for the $32 billion U.S. beauty industry. The Hispanic female is a rapidly growing part of the U.S. population, with especially large representation in younger age groups who have more disposable income. By 2050, one-quarter of U.S. women will be Hispanic, our HispanTelligence® unit predicts.
In recent market studies by Maybelline New York, the company found that the average Hispanic woman buys more cosmetics than her general market counterpart.
"They [over index] in all our cosmetic categories, mascara, lipstick, foundation, nail, and shadow," says Danielle Villarroel, director of marketing for Maybelline N.Y.
Investors see an attractive opportunity in coupling Hispanic women's desire to look and feel their best with their expanding purchasing power.
"From the perspective of an investor, the market is huge," says John Garcia, a founding partner of Angel Strategies, an angel investor group in Newport Beach, California.
Mr. Garcia, who has various successful startups to his credit, including a venture capital firm and a medical software company, has recently added a beauty product business to his roster of companies.
He teamed up with model and actress Patricia Velasquez to create "Calma," a line of all-natural anti-aging creams and cosmetics scheduled to launch this summer.
"The reason I got in is, obviously, there's a huge market gap for all-natural beauty and wellness products, particularly for the Latino market," he says.
To make their cosmetics more appealing to Hispanic women, beauty firms are retooling existing makeup lines, developing new shades, and launching multimillion-dollar marketing campaigns that feature Hispanic celebrity spokesmodels and in-store bilingual promotions. Meanwhile, makeup artists, such as Ms. Picaso, are developing their own lines specifically tailored to Hispanic women.
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