I was reading a blog post on naijasinglegirl, where a counsellor was blasting naturalistas, and one of his points was that it is poor people who wear their hair natural. In a bid to counter his stance, a commenter painted expensive natural hair products as high quality, and the more affordable one as being inferior ot them. In short, the more expensive it is, the more effective it is.
The part that jumped out at me was "Yea, there re less expensive brands in the market but don't we all love the best?" i.e. the best are the most expensive.
I was sad to read this comment, because being my industry, I know nothing could be farther from the truth. Following principles of economics, bigger brands like shea moisture should even be cheaper and more affordable than independent brands like African Naturalistas. And here’s why
- They produce larger, and therefore have more access to more raw materials, at cheaper prices than independent brands
- They have a larger customer base thereby leading to more sales, and therefore their overhead cost is greatly reduced in comparison to independent brands
- They have better infrastructure because of good access to resources needed for manufacturing, and therefore production cost is next to nothing when compared to the massive revenue they generate
...And so on
But the irony is the case. They peddle their products at more expensive prices, raking in billions of dollars, and people erroneously think that they are better while the cheaper ones are inferior…. i.e. the cheaper ones which ideally have more justification to be expensive.
And therefore despite the high cost, because of this mind set, these expensive foreign brands keep selling and selling
Since this post is written on African Naturalistas, we would talk from our own point of view.
When I went natural, I realized that most of the complaints people made about natural hair was that the products were not as affordable as the ones they were using when they had relaxed hair.
The truth is that natural hair products can’t be as cheap as others because most of those other products are laden with cheap chemicals, petroleum products, and harmful ingredients that have no business being on our natural hair.
But we also know that though they can’t be ridiculously cheap, they don’t have to be overwhelmingly expensive. And that was the gap we came to fill… to let people know that they don’t have to break a bank to maintain healthy and beautiful natural hair.
So it’s quite heartbreaking when you try to fill this gap by doing the opposite and presenting people products at affordable prices, but they in turn discard your products as inferior, not because it doesn’t work for them or fails in effectiveness, not because it doesn’t look good or smell nice, but because they can easily afford it!
Even many of the raw materials in those products such as Shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and loads of others are all sourced from Africa, so what are we talking about here?
So now, we get to the crossroad
Do we, as independent brands increase our product prices so some people would stop assuming our products are inferior, and we in turn increase our profit margin (who doesn’t like plenty money?)
Or do we keep our cutting edge of affordability so everyone can be convinced that really, you don’t have to break a bank to maintain healthy natural hair?
One thing we know is this, when it comes to hair products, the effectiveness has nothing to do with the price tag on it, and more affordable products are in no way inferior. All you need to do is check the label, and read the ingredients, and see for yourself that all we say is true.