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Brands tout Black heritage as some shoppers question authenticity

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NEW YORK/BANGALORE (Reuters) – L’Oreal SA, Unilever and other multinationals that acquired personal-care brands founded by Black people are moving to reassure their core customers, some of whom have pledged in the wake of racial-justice protests to direct their spending toward only Black-owned companies.

L’Oreal’s multicultural beauty brand Carol’s Daughter, which was founded by a Black woman in her Brooklyn kitchen in 1993 and named for her mother, said June 10 that it wanted to “clear some things up” when it posted a message to its Instagram page.

“Carol’s Daughter is Black-founded, and Black-led, and joined the L’Oreal family of brands in 2014,” it said. Founder Lisa Price “is still actively involved in all aspects of the business; leading the brand’s product development and creative vision,” the statement said.

Price is senior vice president and creative director at Carol’s Daughter, which is part of the Multi-Cultural Beauty Division at L’Oreal USA, and is also part of the Executive Committee at L’Oreal USA.

Multinational companies in recent years have snapped up products aimed at Black consumers and marketed those brands as authentically Black, with homemade formulas, personalised offers and feel-good marketing.

But in the wake of the protests following the May 25 death of an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, many consumers are pledging to purchase more goods from Black-owned businesses as a way to bring greater racial equity.

SheaMoisture, a personal care company founded in Harlem by Liberian immigrants in 1991, became part of Unilever in 2017 after the Anglo-Dutch multinational Unilever purchased Sundial Brands, a New York-based beauty firm. Black consumers threatened to boycott its products in June citing its corporate ownership.

On June 9, Cara Sabin, CEO of Sundial Brands, which operates as a standalone unit within Unilever, posted a message on Instagram to assuage them. “I am a Black CEO, in White corporate America, leading a brand that exists to serve our Black consumer,” Sabin wrote.

Black spending power in the United States is expected to rise to $1.5 trillion by 2021, from about $1.3 trillion last year, according to a report by Nielsen, a data analytics firm that tracks consumer purchases.

The Black community makes up 13.4% of the U.S. population, and outspends in relation to other groups on products such as hair care and beauty, and women’s fragrances. In 2017, for example, Black shoppers represented 85% of the $63 million total U.S. industry spend on multicultural hair care products.

The group also represented 22.4% and 21% of the total U.S industry spending on women’s fragrances and feminine hygiene products that year, respectively, the report showed.

Sales of hair care products targeted at multi-ethnicities were up 50% year-over-year in the month to May 17, according to Strategic Solutions International, a unit of Nielsen. Black-owned hair care companies represented 14% of the category, but drove 20% of that growth at retail stores.

But some consumers say they’re paying closer attention to the ownership of a variety of goods and services aimed at Blacks, including bookstores, restaurants and pharmacies. On fundraising site GoFundMe, there are nearly 2,000 pages set up in support of Black-owned businesses, the majority of which were all created in recent weeks.

“We’ve been dealing with these issues with Black people for how long, right? But there’s just something about this moment,” said Vivian Duker, a Baltimore-based corporate attorney. Earlier this month, she teamed up with a friend to launch a Change.org campaign called “#VERIFYBLACK” that has garnered more than 7,000 signatures. The petition seeks to get social media platforms to identify Black-owned businesses more clearly.

Brands such as Carol’s Daughter and SheaMoisture would not qualify as Black-owned businesses, she told Reuters.

Unilever and L’Oreal did not respond to requests for comment.

Procter & Gamble in 2018 acquired Walker & Co, the parent company of Bevel, a men’s grooming line, and Form Beauty, a women’s haircare line – both primarily for people of color. Walker & Co Vice President of Marketing Tia Cummings told Reuters that being part of P&G helped widen the availability of its products, making it easier for men and women to find and purchase them.

Dana Williams-Johnson, Instructor in the Howard University School of Business Marketing Department said companies “making money off of Black consumers should have leadership that reflects the consumers that purchase the brands.”

“How diverse are these company’s boards? How many Black people are at the top with a seat at the boardroom table? How much do all these brands truly value the Black dollar? Those will be the questions that need answers next,” she added. 

According to Black Enterprise magazine, 187 of the S&P 500 companies did not have a single Black member on their boards in 2019.

Haircare company Cantu Beauty faced such questions on Instagram this month, with some shoppers noting it was sold to PDC Brands in 2015 and declaring they would boycott the brand in favour of Black-owned businesses.

So the company hosted an Instagram livestream chat “with the people behind the brand” on June 12. “I want to pull back that curtain and let you guys see exactly what is going on behind the scenes,” Cantu Beauty’s Global Vice President Dametria Mustin said during the livestream.

PDC Brands did not respond to requests for comment.Synthea Hairston, 24, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania called Cantu her “number 1” brand for many years. But she refuses to shop the brand again.

“Now my conscious is eating at me… I will literally be keeping a list with me at all times to make sure what I’m picking up is Black-owned.”

Reporting and photo: Reuters

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Indian influencer Niki Mehra in Maldives

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Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC/ Visit Maldives) hosted a familiarisation trip with Amilla Maldives for high-end influencer, Niki Mehra, from India to experience the luxury and romantic offerings of the Maldives from 3rd – 6th May 2024.

The familiarisation trip was a great opportunity to Niki Mehra, a renowned Indian model, fashion, beauty and travel content creator and social media influencer with over half a million followers who has carved a niche in the Indian fashion industry with her unique sense of style. During her time in the Sunny Side of Life, Niki Mehra showcased luxury to romantic experiences of the destination.

The trip promoted Maldives through social media platforms of Niki Mehra while highlighting experiential itinerary offerings of the Maldives. Additionally, the influencer trip assisted MMPRC in propelling growth in the luxury travel segment and honeymoon market by showcasing the Maldives as a premier honeymoon destination for the Indian travellers.

The Indian market has been a strong market for the Maldives over the years, currently ranked number 6 with 46,970 tourists as of 13th May 2024. Additionally, MMPRC showcased the Maldives in OTM and SATTE held earlier this year. MMPRC is committed to boosting the arrivals from the market and has exciting marketing activities planned for future, including joint campaigns, familiarisation trips, participation in major events and other campaigns which provides numerous opportunities to showcase the breathtaking Maldives to the market, attracting more Indian travellers.

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130 hotels in The Prestige Collection with 4 Maldives properties

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The Prestige Collection has reached 130 hotels in its portfolio, continuing to uphold quality and excellence as core pillars. It represents the most exclusive selection within Keytel, the world’s first alliance of independent hotels.

Since its establishment in 2007, The Prestige Collection has been dedicated to meeting the growing demand for luxury hotels, becoming a reference for hospitality industry specialists. Despite its focus on independent hotels, the collection has successfully attracted prestigious properties from international luxury chains such as Rosewood Villa Magna, Mandarín Oriental Ritz Madrid, and Fairmont Mayakoba in Riviera Maya. These hotels view The Prestige Collection as a complement to their commercial strategy for attracting luxury clientele.

With a prominent presence both nationally and internationally across 36 countries, The Prestige Collection shines in with four distinguished resorts: Baglioni Resort Maldives, Diamonds Athuruga Maldives Resort & Spa, Diamonds Thudufushi Maldives Resort & Spa, and Hideaway Beach Resort & Spa. Internationally, the collection boasts emblematic properties like Armani Dubai, Café Royal in London, The Pierre in New York, and Kappa Senses in Ubud, Bali, among others.

The collection categorises hotels into four distinctive categories, highlighting ideal places to disconnect, properties in vibrant urban settings, coastal options for those seeking serenity, and unique experiences for those seeking singularity.

Furthermore, this milestone coincides with the relaunch of its new experiential website platform. This platform offers users and industry professionals the opportunity to explore the collection in greater detail and drives qualified traffic to the official websites of member hotels.

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Waste Management Corporation (WAMCO) Marks a Significant Step Towards Transforming Urban Waste Management

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Waste Management Corporation (WAMCO) marked a significant step towards plastic waste management with the adoption of dedicated vehicles handed over to boost this transformation of urban waste management supported by The Coca-Cola Foundation (TCCF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Maldives.  

In March 2024, UNDP Maldives officially handed over a fleet of six vehicles to WAMCO, which included two electric vehicles (EVs), as part of an initiative aimed at enhancing waste management across the Greater Male’ Area (GMA). This acquisition, facilitated through the financial support of TCCF paves the way for a crucial advancement in bolstering PET collection efforts and tackling the challenge of plastic waste in the Maldives.

“This initiative marks a significant step towards boosting recycling rates and combating environmental pollution in the Maldives,” stated Pek Chuan Gan, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP Maldives speaking at the handover ceremony. “Integrating electric vehicles into WAMCO’s fleet and improving PET recycling processes not only lowers carbon emissions but also pioneers renewable energy use in waste management. It’s a vital move for steering the Maldives towards a sustainable and renewable-powered future.”

The provision of electric vehicles marks a continuation of UNDP Maldives’ support to the Government’s vision to introduce renewable energy in key sectors such as waste management that significantly contribute to the country’s renewable energy transition ambition. By embracing clean energy solutions, such as electric vehicles in waste management practices, the Maldives can further reduce its carbon footprint and move closer to achieving its renewable energy goals.

“Utilizing eco-friendly vehicles is a pivotal change for WAMCO, signifying a major leap towards modernizing waste management in the Maldives,” remarked Mujthaba Jaleel, Managing Director, from WAMCO. “This collaboration highlights the shared commitment to environmental stewardship and the potential for such partnerships to catalyse meaningful progress in sustainability and about the positive impact these vehicles will have on our operations and the environment.”

Representatives from UNDP Maldives, WAMCO, and The Coca-Cola Foundation’s unified efforts towards a sustainable future. Photo courtesy: CIAO Advertising.

“Our commitment goes beyond just recycling; it’s about fostering a culture of sustainability,” remarked Saadia Madsbjerg, President, Coca‑Cola Foundation and VP Community Affairs. “By enhancing waste management in the Maldives, we aspire to set a benchmark for environmental stewardship.”

For The Coca-Cola Foundation, together with the stakeholders, the aim is to propel Maldives towards a future where plastic circularity is not just envisioned but actively pursued. By channelling resources and expertise into the heart of waste management, TCCF has made a sizeable contribution in enhancing and attracting investment to this crucial sector in the Maldives. This initiative is a testament to TCCF’s commitment to fostering sustainable practices and promoting the reuse and recycling of plastics, thereby reducing environmental impact, and paving the way for a circular economy.

The fleet handover event held on March 18, 2024, served as a celebration of collaboration in waste management. Representatives from UNDP Maldives, WAMCO, The Coca-Cola Foundation, government officials, and stakeholders came together to mark this significant step and reinforced their collective dedication to building a more sustainable future for the Maldives.

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