I started busting out Missy Elliot lyrics after reading the title of this blog. Most times I speak off the top my head and don’t really plan these out which is why I end up drifting off topic just a little. Like now.
Anyway, now here is the some food for thought. Expensive hair products… what’s in it for you? And are they really worth the price? This has been a long debated topic in Nattyville and the results always vary because we are so divided on what we are willing to pay for a product that could be replaced by something slightly cheaper and hopefully get the same results. Our budgets vary and this is the greatest factor in influencing your decision.
Such a fine line to walk here. But first it must begin with understanding why our imported products are so much more expensive than some of our locally established brands and others that have a relatively good reputation among the natural community. Let’s just dive in and take a look at what actually goes into the price of one bottle of leave-in conditioner.
For the purpose of just mere illustration, let’s take a look at (according to SA Pricing) why Shea Moisture is out of reach for a lot of us. First off, like any product there are:
- Manufacturing Costs
- Packaging Costs
- Shipping Costs
- Taxes (Local Tax, Import Tax, Customs)
- & other Overheads to consider
Now, if you have ever read the comments of some of our American members in the Its All Natural support group, they usually say that Shea Moisture is actually QUITE affordable in the USA, but why does it seem that SA got the short end of the stick? The short answer to this is just two words. Import volumes. It is expensive to ship small quantities of a product while the demand market is still being probed for its degree of interest. In that time, unfortunately it will be quite expensive until they are able to export larger quantities and have a firm foothold in the market and are able to charge a more agreeable price for their range because they are confident that it will sell. Every producer aims, ideally, for 100% sale. This is the absolute “best case scenario” but it is hardly ever attainable… Losses from theft, damage during transport, insurance etc.. These all constitute to overall costs. *Bank account cringing intensifies*
But wait! There’s more!
Other things you need to consider is what is actually in the product itself. Some manufacturers go to extreme lengths to source the best quality raw ingredients for their products and this too incurs a premium for such luxury. I mean, we’re not exactly using sacred Shea nuts from the top of a mountain on a remote island untouched by human hands, but there is a degree of quality that must be adhered to. Not all ingredients are created the same. Natties know this well, very well indeed. Furthermore, some manufacturers use unique, patented processes during the creation of their products and don’t choose to subscribe to garden variety methods, this too comes at a slight cost. Like that grandmother that refuses to use whole spices and claims grinding them with a pestle and mortar after roasting them is best? Don’t even act like you don’t know what I am talking about right now, we ALL have that grandmother. They will insist that method is better, but most times they’re usually right.
Now, I hope some of this is starting to become a little clearer but let’s look at this one more time. For foreign producers wanting to invest in our slowly developing African market, it does unfortunately come at a price that the consumer has to bear. They rely on your interest and support and don’t necessarily charge what they want because they simply can, it’s a lot of mathematics and careful consideration that go into the final conclusion on what is the most feasible price to sell a product in a new country. Markets are extremely turbulent these days and it is difficult to truly predict how well consumers will take to pricing. On the one end you never want to scare them away, but on the other you don’t want to undercut your competition for the sake of popularity, many angry faces will be at your door. And finally, it harms the business.
It is your duty though, to learn as much as you can about what goes into a product and make sure that you feel comfortable paying for it because of what it offers you. If it does not give you what you want then there is no purpose in saying that you exclusively use a brand. I enjoy many of the products out on the market because, truth be told, we are finally spoiled for choice! The market continues to grow, but is still classified as a niche market. Some of us have not accepted the light of Natty Jesus as yet. The gates of Nattyville are open to everyone, I assure you. You’re welcome to join the party any time. But now is the time. In many ways, this is the Golden Era we have all hoped for, give it time, and it will only improve. What a time to be alive though.
If you really want these brands to continue distributing their products in your country, it is you, the consumer who will ultimately decide whether they stay or leave. This obviously presents a bit of a quandary when it comes to supporting local business but the converse to this is that it is not merely enough for you to be local for people to support you, a crucial deciding factor comes down to the question of “Why You?”. An entirely different conversation altogether. The point that I am making is that competition is invariably a natural component of business, with the consumer as Caesar presiding over a bloody gladiator free-for-all and decides who lives or dies. A simple Yes or No. Quite a poignant depiction of the amount of power you have, no? The collective power of consumers is what sways the market.
Wow, quite a “businessy” post hey? I have tried to keep the explanations as basic as possible to give all of you (our lovely readers) a general overview of what influences pricing in your favourite hair ranges. It is not merely to get your money, well yes that’s one side of business, but to price it in a way that makes it beneficial to both parties and promote a sustainable business model we can subscribe to. It is not “market exploitation” as many would be led to believe. So next time you want to make a new foreign friend in the hair aisle, consider some of these points when you make a judgment on why it is priced as such. And if the ingredients aren’t harmful, work well with your hair, and is within you budget, you go ahead and FIRE AWAY.
I hope this was as informative as it was fun to write. Best wishes for your hair journey! Please feel free to leave comments and questions 🙂
Talk Natty To Me, Baby 😉