Unveiling the marketing strategy behind the pop star’s thriving beauty brand.
Rihanna’s Superbowl performance left the social media world quivering—for both good and bad reasons. While some thought the pop star did the bare minimum, others resorted to recreating her dance moves, celebrating her pregnancy announcement and lauding her for her genius marketing move. During the performance, she included a three-second Fenty Beauty make-up touch-up, which some thought was an outtake accidentally included in the video.
Rest assured, it was not an outtake. It was, like the rest of her performance, a carefully choreographed marketing move. In 2017, Rihanna launched Fenty Beauty in a bid to make beauty products more inclusive. The idea behind her brand was to cater to more skin tones and make make-up “fun”. Some of the most popular items under her umbrella—pardon the pun—are the Fenty Beauty liquid lipstick and foundation.
The thing is, Rihanna pulls out all stops when promoting Fenty Beauty using a mix of conventional and unconventional ways. Here, we break down some of her most effective marketing strategies:
1. Inclusivity: At the outset, Fenty Beauty launched with not just women but all genders in mind, setting itself apart from competitors almost immediately. One of the most notable ways in which Fenty Beauty is inclusive is its extensive range of foundation shades. The brand launched with 40 foundation shades, which is far more than most other beauty brands offer. Since then, the foundation range has expanded to 50 shades to cater to even more skin tones.
Fenty Beauty’s marketing campaigns feature models of all skin tones and ethnicities, and the brand is committed to showcasing diversity in its advertising. The brand’s initial marketing campaign was a prime example, featuring a diverse range of models, including Somali-American model Halima Aden and plus-size model Paloma Elsesser. The campaign became the biggest make-up brand launch in YouTube history in 2017, solidifying Fenty Beauty’s position as a leader in inclusive beauty.
2. Social media: With over 12 million followers on Instagram and 848,000 subscribers on YouTube, Fenty Beauty has established itself as a leader in the beauty industry’s social media landscape. The brand’s social media strategy goes beyond showcasing its products and promoting new launches, featuring a range of content to engage with customers. From product reviews and make-up tutorials to behind-the-scenes content and user-generated content, Fenty Beauty leverages its platforms to connect with fans in a unique and personal way.
3. Influencer marketing: Even though Rihanna is the face of the brand, Fenty Beauty is all about bringing on a diverse range of celebrity influencers to promote its products. For instance, it signed Singaporean reality star Kane Lim as its first Southeast Asian celebrity ambassador. It also brought on American actress and activist Amandla Stenberg of the Hunger Games fame to be the face of the brand in 2019. Last year, it collaborated with singer Madison Beer to promote its brand.
But it’s not just the A-listers that are helping Fenty Beauty get attention. Fenty also gets a lot of engagement thanks to social media influencers, like beauty blogger Jackie Aina and Instagram influencer Nyma Tang, to reach a younger demographic and keep up with the latest trends.
4. Opportunistic marketing: Rihanna’s Superbowl performance took the world by storm, sure, but she didn’t get paid a penny for it. Still, she managed to rake in the dough—a whopping US$5.6 million in media impact value—with a brief but effective marketing gimmick of touching up her make-up using the Fenty Beauty Invisimatte Blotting Powder. Google searches for the product shot up by over 800%.
With this three-second act, not only did Rihanna drive the audience’s attention to her brand and products, but she also made a case for its utility. As she continued to perform—with her make-up looking flawless throughout—potential buyers got to see that Fenty Beauty was not all talk and that its products actually worked. Two birds, one stone.
Rihanna’s Superbowl stint is proof that not every great marketing campaign needs heaps of money as an investment. Sometimes, you’ve just got to make the most of a given opportunity.
5. Product innovations: Finally, no marketing strategy compares to a good product. And in the end, it is the only stamp of approval that matters for customers. Fenty Beauty’s Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer, for example, is one of the standout products with a non-sticky formula and a universal rose nude shade that flatters a wide range of skin tones. The product has since been expanded to include several new shades and finishes, showing the brand’s commitment to offering a diverse range of options.
Another innovative product from Fenty Beauty is its Match Stix Matte Skinstick, a multi-use stick that can be used as a concealer, contour or highlighter. The stick formula is designed to be easy to blend and comes in a range of shades to suit a variety of skin tones.
These products, along with many others, including foundation, bronzer and eyeliner, offer variations and upgrades that most beauty brands don’t, helping the brand execute its marketing strategy successfully.
Of course, there’s no getting around the fact that Rihanna herself is a global sensation and has been so for decades. Fenty Beauty is popular because Rihanna is. However, that doesn’t discount the validity of the above strategies. Instead, it makes a case for using celebrity endorsements in building credibility and brand recognition. Be it a social media influencer or a world-renowned celebrity, depending on your budget, aspiring entrepreneurs can take notes from Fenty Beauty’s playbook and get a known face to put in a good word for your brand.
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