A handful of marketers have, over the past few weeks, quickly expanded the range of skin tones available as part of their product lines. They have added more shades typical of Black and Brown populations in addition to the mostly peach/pink hues that have traditionally been categorized as “nude.” Most of these initiatives have occurred since George Floyd’s killing less than a month ago, which prompted a renewed and more urgent conversation about racial inequality.
While only one of the following examples is a collaboration, all of the companies mentioned are involved in the licensing business:
• Crayola announced its Colors of the World crayon range, encompassing two dozen skin tones. In addition to a basic 24-crayon box, the company also offers a 32-crayon package, at Walmart only, which includes the 24 skin colors as well as four options for hair and four for eyes. Crayola has long offered a multicultural set of eight skin tones, but this new product expands the range significantly. (It should be noted that in this case, the announcement came a couple of days before Floyd’s May 25 death, timed to the United Nations World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.)
• Johnson & Johnson’s Band-Aid brand announced that it would release new bandages in dark, medium, and light Brown and Black skin tones. The brand also made a $100,000 donation to Black Lives Matter, while parent Johnson & Johnson contributed $1 million. Several smaller Band Aid competitors have offered adhesive bandages in a variety of colors for some time.
• Dance brand Capezio said it would create ballet pointe shoes in darker colors as part of its regular range, in response to a Change.org petition. In the past, non-white dancers have had to have their shoes custom-made or have had to cake on foundation to make the shoes match their skin tone, as the off-the-shelf products came in only blush. (Capezio has offered tights in a range of colors.) Another dance supplier, Bloch, also said it would add darker shades to its pointe shoes and its Blochsox dance crew socks in the fall.
• Sims 4, the latest title in the life-simulation video game franchise published by Electronic Arts, is the focus of a collaboration with MAC Cosmetics to provide a range of digital makeup shades that look good on all character skin tones, something that had not been available within the game in the past. The assortment is offered in a free update. MAC has long been known for providing a large variety of shades in its real-life makeup collections.
The trend to offer more skin-color diversity in products and services of all kinds has been ongoing for some time, of course. Children’s entertainment productions have portrayed increasingly diverse character sets, for example, in response to growing audience desire for inclusivity; a recent survey from Parrot Analytics found that demand for children’s shows with diverse characters was 58.3% higher in May 2020 than in May 2019. And cosmetics collections—especially celebrity-driven examples—have increasingly catered to diverse consumers with a wide palette of shades. The events of the past month have provided yet another incentive for marketers across categories to add their names to the list of companies that cater to consumers of every skin tone.
We recently published a story on some of the other trends impacting the licensing and consumer products community since May 25, as the Licensing Topic of the Month in our June e-newsletter. If you missed it, you can read it here. We have also posted our latest update on how the licensing business is dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. Read that piece, and all of our other coverage on this topic, on our Coronavirus Resource Page.