Don’t Be Shamed Like Shea Moisture
JUNE, 2018
Right around 7:45 PM Tuesday night, I was in desperate need of a deep hair conditioner. It was one of those beauty emergencies that I didn’t believe could wait until the next day. I headed to Target.
Once there, I turned down the aisle where the natural hair products were. What used to be a three-foot section dominated by just five brands for curly girls has grown (by popular demand of course) into an entire six shelf, double-sided aisle full of products, brand promises, and OPTIONS, OPTIONS, OPTIONS!

I can vividly recall the days when my choices for natural hair products were limited to a handful of brands that spoke my language and understood what I needed and truly wanted – which was to unabashedly rock my natural born coils. .

The first brand to indoctrinate me into this natural hair, afro, unapologetic lifestyle was Shea Moisture.

On Tuesday, as I perused through this new and “inclusive” Target aisle, I noticed a sea of other natural hair brands that made the same claims as Shea Moisture’s products. I was reminded of the ebbs and flows of business and just how quickly competition enters in. 

As a brand, being the first to offer something or even being amongst a limited few options is a huge advantage. You can dominate the conversation about your solutions and capture a large chunk of market share early on. The best part? You have the opportunity to really get to know your customer and build your business around their needs. 

But what happens when you’re not the only player anymore? What happens when everyone mimics you, or worse, outdoes you, your offering, and the way they connect with your customers? What happens when the section you used to dominate becomes an aisle that you’re lucky to even have a spot on? 

For strong brands that know their customers, they continue the connection despite the number of competitors vying for their customers’ dollars. They spend time building on the trust they already have and finding new ways to meet their people where they are.

Brands not as strong (or strategic) who don’t know their customers head in the opposite direction. In an attempt to capture the popularity of a growing market, they cast a wide net over ALL customers, trying to appeal to EVERYONE, in turn isolating the very ones that they created their products or services for.

This is exactly what Shea Moisture did last year – they lost sight of who their customers were. Or maybe, they never even know them. 

The 2017 “Hair Hate” ad campaign told a story that was not the Shea Moisture one at all. It showcased imagery of everyone but the natural Black girls that supported, advocated for, influenced, and grew their business. It invited a web of backlash that resulted in comments from customers like:

“Any brand that doesn’t know me is a brand I certainly don’t need to get to know.”

In a public apology from the brand, they attempted to acknowledge the disrespect their customers felt. And while they ended with a humble admission, “we should know better”, the sting remains even a year later.

While checking out at Target on Tuesday with the deep conditioner I purchased from the Camille Rose brand, it dawned on me that I didn’t even notice the bright coral-colored Shea Moisture brand in that huge aisle. Maybe it was there. Maybe it wasn’t.

Any brand that doesn’t know me is a brand I certainly don’t need to get to know. And after awhile, it’s one I don’t even notice.

Believe me, I’m not alone. 

.      .     .

Take the time out to get to know your customers and promise yourself that you’ll never deviate from the very people you created your brand to serve. 



Learn how you can get to know your customer and avoid these top brand building mistakes HERE!

Written by: Amber Williams

Master Brand Storyteller & Creator of Punkyflair