#SMW Lagos: The Beauty of Tech

The huge potential of social media in the African beauty industry

BE_#SMWLagos signage

We’re at the final day of Social Media Week Lagos and the experience has been great. The energy and ambition of Nigerians in the digital space is not something we should ignore. With over 170 million people in Nigeria and the average adult possessing at least two cellular phones, it’s no wonder that the digital marketing scene is rapidly growing. The focus now is on how to create sustainable businesses with all of this technology.

[Related: Social Media Week Returns to Lagos, Nigeria]

Yesterday’s Beauty of Tech session was moderated by Beauty Radical, a mobile app and web platform where women can share product reviews and other bits and bytes related to the beauty industry as it pertains to African women. Black Enterprise spoke to the founder of Beauty Radical, Muhammida El Muhajir, who spent a year learning all the ins and outs of building a sustainable mobile app for the African market at a fellowship at Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology in Ghana. Jealous much?

“The personal care and beauty market in Nigeria has reached over $1.2 billion annually and, in the U.S., hair and beauty product revenues from black women consumers have exceeded $7.5 billion annually.”

[RELATED: How Ngozi Opara Is Transforming Black Hair & Beauty Culture]

When asked how this affects African consumerism in the technology space, Muhajir had this to say:

“One, the consumerism in Africa is happening at lightening speed. The middle class is growing so fast and we have more money to spend on beauty products. Even women who are poor are going to spend a lot of money on products. Because of technology and social media, they’re able to find out about more products–their uses, tips and trends than ever before. We’re using social media to spread the message amongst ourselves because we don’t have a magazine to tell us about the cool things. In America you have Essence and a few others. But for the African woman, how else can we find out about these things?”

The Beauty of Tech panel discussed the huge potential of social media in the African beauty industry.

How does Muhajir see the African beauty space expanding and what about the African Man?

“Nigeria is one of those markets where you don’t have to leave to be successful. This is one of the biggest markets in the world. Say you have a product like Bevel and it’s in America where you have about 40 million African American people. There’s such a small segment of that population that can even use his products. Now you come to Nigeria’s market, one country that’s four to five times our American  number, and that just opens up the market. Beauty Radical initially will be targeted toward women but it really can be for anyone. So if I am a man and I just purchased a Bevel product or another product like a shaving cream and it broke me out, I want other men to know. Beauty Radical will be that platform.”

[RELATED: Primpii App Connects Clients to Beauty Pros]

Muhajir also shared tips for others wanting to get into the beauty space:

“I think this is such an amazing time to enter the space. I didn’t study computer science, I’m not a coder but, in any city, there are training programs, incubators, and accelerators where there are hubs of people, some of which don’t have ideas. They know how to code but they don’t have a great idea. So I would say insert yourself in those circles. Go meet. Hang out at the incubators or the hubs or tech spaces within your city.”

“Developing countries are trying to bring and attract technology. I lived in New York and had access, but I wanted to breathe tech for a year.”

“I came and did a fellowship in Ghana at Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology where I worked with startups and founders every single day, helping them build their business. This gave me the training to start my own tech business.”

If you’re interested in joining the beauty radical movement, sign up at http://www.beautyradical.com/.