Latin American Beauty Care -- an Everyday Thing  5/1/2017


Latin American women have long been known for their beauty. Indeed, all you have to do is look to the Miss Universe pageant, where 24 women from south of the border have been adorned with the crown, with Venezuela itself getting seven.

Even the famed Mexican artist, Diego Rivera, honors the natural and native beauty of Latin American women, mysterious and infectious. It takes time, study and research to understand the mindset of Latinas but nothing that passion and power of observation can’t overcome.

We’re transported by songs romancing “tall and tan and young and lovely” with rhythmic bossa nova vibes as Astrud Gilberto’s version of the Girl from Ipanema along with the 150 other versions, including those by Madonna, Frank Sinatra and Amy Winehouse. Today bronze skin is still aspirational for women throughout the planet, and nowhere is there more interest in nurturing health and beauty inside and out than in the countries that make up the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America.

Latinas from the US to Tierra del Fuego in Argentina/Chile take personal pride in their appearance. And you might not think that’s much of an insight since women everywhere take pride in their appearance, right? I agree, however, even casual moments for Latinas are reasons to look your best. Culturally, there is a more formal adherence to look “made up” in public for Latinas -- even for the quick trip to the market -- than the more spontaneous approach by American women who will just go for a “natural” look by throwing on a sweatshirt, pulling up the spandex, ball cap and calling it good. Some of it may simply be a difference of what “made up” means.

This isn’t just my own empirical observation, but is supported by data. According to a Nielsen study, “the top 20 consumer packaged goods categories where Hispanics over-index, or spend more frequently than the general population, are in health and beauty. Latinos also purchase many different products within beauty at higher rates than the total U.S. market.”

This same high consumer orientation is true in Hispanic countries of origin. Men and women from Mexico, for example, spend more time in personal grooming than any other group in the world, according to Euromonitor International.

From a retail point of view, there are well known shopping centers like Plaza de las Americas in San Juan, Puerto Rico or Mexico City’s swanky shopping district of Polanco, to Bogota’s own Centro Santafé that would make a retailer dizzy with opportunity or a US shopper surprised with the sophistication of variety and application of goods and services. I recall my first visit to Plaza de las Americas I was overwhelmed by the crowds. It took 15 minutes just to find a parking spot. It was in June but it may as well have been a shopping day leading up to Christmas. I hadn’t or still have not seen that kind of traffic—anywhere.

Retailers throughout all categories have long heralded Hispanics as prolific shoppers here in the US, but this is a custom that comes from their homelands. On one visit to a mall in Monterrey, Mexico, I was walking through a Sears’s cosmetic department that to this day can only be rivaled by a Bloomingdale’s or Macy’s in Manhattan during lunch hour.

Much of the beauty and grace of the women from Latin countries is attributed to heritage and proximity to the equator, though that is not to say that Latinas don’t have interest in helping what Mother Nature has imbued. From humble to cosmopolitan, women in general visit a local Pharmacia to world famous shops and stores, looking for deals that are accessible, affordable and of course, enjoyable. There is interest in caring for one’s health through diet, exercise, and vitamins and supplements, as much as the latest skin and hair care products.

Just like today’s woman in the US the social media and mobile phones makes access to the latest trends and styles. But in a curious twist it’s Latinas who drive health and beauty trends for women throughout the far reaches of the planet.

¡Viva Bellaza y Salud! (Long Live Beauty & Health!)

Armando Martin

Principal
XL Edge

Armando Martín lives in Denver, Colorado, enjoyed a successful career in corporate America that carried him throughout Latin America. Armando co-founded the country’s first multicultural retail marketing agency, XL Edge. He currently devotes his consulting practice to multicultural strategy and retail leadership. He is also on the board of the National Hispanic Voter Education Foundation

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