Fenty Beauty's Inclusive Revolution: Rihanna's $582M Impact

Fenty Beauty's Inclusive Revolution: Rihanna's $582M Impact

Cathy Carpetta

Cathy Carpetta

December 9, 2023

In 2017, Rihanna started Fenty Beauty, changing the beauty game with a fantastic 40-shade foundation line-up (now 50!) that welcomed all skin tones. This bold step, along with their creative products and powerful social media presence, led Fenty Beauty to a staggering $72 million in just one month. It earned them awards like being named one of Time magazine's best inventions in 2017.

Even in a tough beauty market, Fenty Beauty's dedication to including everyone and celebrating diversity has created a new norm in the industry, making a lasting impact.

1. Fenty Beauty: A clear and unique brand positioning

With an annual revenue of $582 million, Fenty Beauty changed the beauty game by embracing diversity. Unlike many other brands, they launched with a wide range of 40 foundation shades, later expanding to 50.

This commitment to inclusivity, inspired by Rihanna's own experiences, paid off, with Fenty Beauty's launch sales in the US skyrocketing fivefold and outperforming competitors. Their campaigns also featured models of diverse skin tones and were among the first to include men, making them a leader in the makeup industry for all.

1.1 Transparency and commitment

In 2020, Fenty Beauty pledged $1 million to support racial justice causes, including Black Lives Matter and the NAACP. 

Unlike many brands that posted brief tributes and returned to normal operations, Fenty Beauty stood in solidarity by stopping operating completely and consistently raising awareness of racial issues. This not only celebrated diversity but also underscored their product's inclusivity for all skin tones.

Fenty Beauty Instagram posts showing supports to Black Lives Matter & Black Excellence
Fenty Beauty supports for Black Lives Matter & black excellence on Instagram

1.2 Other commitments of Fenty Beauty

  1. Sustainable packaging: Fenty Beauty has worked to minimise the environmental impact of its packaging by using recyclable materials and reducing the amount of packaging used. For example, the brand's Match Stix come in refillable packaging, which reduces waste.
  2. Vegan and cruelty-free products: All Fenty Beauty products are cruelty-free, meaning they are not tested on animals. In addition, many of the brand's products are vegan (not all of them), meaning they do not contain any animal-derived ingredients.
  3. Responsible ingredient sourcing: Fenty Beauty has committed to sourcing ingredients responsibly and ethically. The brand works to ensure that the ingredients used in its products are not linked to deforestation, habitat destruction, or human rights abuses.
  4. Environmental partnerships: Fenty Beauty has partnered with organisations such as the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance and the Rainforest Alliance to support environmental conservation efforts.

2. Rihanna: The marketing queen

2.1. A clean and tasteful visual identity

Fenty Beauty's visual identity is modern and minimalistic, featuring clean lines and bold typography. Their packaging, with a sleek matte black finish and the iconic "F" logo resembling a makeup brush, exudes a luxurious appeal for consumers seeking high-end beauty products.

Moreover, Fenty Beauty's advertising consistently features diverse models and influencers, representing various ethnicities, skin tones, and body types. This aligns with their commitment to inclusivity and diversity, creating a cohesive and effective visual identity that has contributed to their success in the competitive beauty industry.

2.2. Strong social media presence and customer engagement

Fenty Beauty has a very strong social media presence, with a highly committed and loyal following.

On Instagram, Fenty Beauty boasts over 12.8 million followers as of March 2024. Their engaging content mix includes product images, makeup tutorials, and user-generated posts. Notably, Fenty Beauty's Instagram engagement rate soars at 0.85%, surpassing the industry average, with an impressive average post-engagement rate of 1.38%.

On TikTok, the brand has garnered 2.6 million followers and 52.4 million likes. Meanwhile, their YouTube channel has more than 911k subscribers and showcases makeup tutorials, behind-the-scenes clips, and interviews with Rihanna, accumulating over 146 million views to date.

2.3 Influencer partnerships and user-generated content (UGC)

Fenty Beauty has worked with a variety of influencers, including beauty bloggers and makeup artists, to promote its products. For example, the brand collaborated with beauty influencer Jackie Aina to launch a shade extension for its Pro Filt'r Foundation. The partnership generated significant buzz on social media and helped to expand the brand's reach.

The brand's focus on UGC and influencer partnerships has helped to build a strong community of loyal fans and has contributed to its success in the competitive beauty industry.

2.4 Rihanna's integral role in Fenty Beauty's marketing and brand image

As the founder of the brand, she frequently uses her personal image and social media presence to promote Fenty Beauty and its products.

Here are some ways Rihanna uses her image and social networks to promote Fenty Beauty:

  • In-person events: Rihanna has made appearances at various Fenty Beauty events, including product launches and pop-up shops. Her presence at these events helps to generate buzz and excitement for the brand. For example, Rihanna's Super Bowl performance wearing Salomon and a red jumpsuit, where she touched up her makeup with Fenty Beauty's Invisimatte Matifying Powder, generated $5.6 million in media impact value. This quick act not only promoted her brand but also showcased the product's effectiveness, leading to an 800% increase in Google searches.
Rihanna at the Superbowl 2023 applying Fenty Beauty powder

  • Social media: Rihanna has a massive social media following, with over 152 million followers on Instagram as of March 2024. She frequently posts about Fenty Beauty products, using her images and videos to showcase the brand's offerings. Rihanna's posts often feature her wearing Fenty Beauty products, which helps to position the brand as a key part of her style.

@fentybeauty Bad gal on the go 💅🏽 Smell like @Rihanna whereva & wheneva with the #FentyParfum Travel Spray 🤎 This unique, spicy floral scent now comes in a set with 1️⃣ chic + convenient twist-and-spray container PLUS 3️⃣ travel-size 10mL bottles.  Don't get caught slippin', Fenty Fam! Cop Muva's iconic scent at @sephora, @sephoracanada, @Kohl’s #sephoraxkohls, & at the #fentybeauty ♬ original sound - Fenty Beauty

  • Campaigns: Rihanna has been featured in several Fenty Beauty campaigns, including the brand's launch campaign in 2017. Her participation in these campaigns helps to build brand recognition and credibility.
  • Partnerships: Rihanna has partnered with other high-profile celebrities and influencers to promote Fenty Beauty products. For example, in 2021, she collaborated with rapper A$AP Rocky (BF and father of 1,5) on a campaign for the brand's new skincare line (Fenty Skin).

3. Engaging and disruptive marketing campaigns

Fenty Beauty has been known for its disruptive marketing campaigns that challenge the status quo in the beauty industry. Here are a few of the brand's most notable campaigns:

3.1 The launch campaign

Fenty Beauty's launch campaign in 2017 was a game-changer in the industry. The brand's focus on inclusivity and diversity was a refreshing change from the limited shade ranges many other beauty brands offer. The campaign featured a diverse range of models, including women of different races, ages, and sizes, and generated a lot of buzz on social media.

3.2 Body Lava campaign

Fenty Beauty's Body Lava campaign in 2018 was another standout moment for the brand. The campaign featured Rihanna herself applying the brand's shimmering body oil in a series of sultry videos that quickly went viral on social media. The campaign helped to cement Fenty Beauty's reputation as a brand that's not afraid to push boundaries and take risks.

3.3 Flyliner campaign

Fenty Beauty's Flyliner campaign in 2018 featured a diverse group of models showing off the brand's new liquid eyeliner. The Flyliner eyeliner, named "Cuz I'm Black" after Rihanna's iconic Twitter clapback, symbolises her unapologetic expression of Black identity and assertive social media presence, in line with the brand's empowering message.

Rihanna tweet clapback of 2011 "cuz I'm black!!!"
X: @rihanna

3.4 Gloss Bomb campaign

This Fenty Beauty gloss sells every 12 seconds globally!

Fenty Beauty's Gloss Bomb campaign in 2019 featured a diverse group of models and influencers showcasing the brand's popular lip gloss. The campaign's focus on inclusivity and diversity helped to reinforce the brand's message that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and shades.

4. Global reach and strategic partnership 

4.1 The Sephora partnership: A launchpad for Fenty Beauty's global domination

Fenty Beauty's partnership with Sephora helped the brand achieve global reach. The brand is available in over 30 countries worldwide and has seen significant success in markets like the US, Canada, the UK, and Europe. According to NPD Group, Fenty Beauty was the top-selling prestige makeup brand in the US in 2018, with sales of over $500 million. The brand also expanded its reach by launching pop-up shops in major cities like London, Paris, and New York.

Fenty Beauty's relationship with Sephora has been instrumental in the brand's success. Sephora was the exclusive launch partner for Fenty Beauty when it was first launched in 2017. The partnership provided Fenty Beauty with access to Sephora's extensive distribution network, which helped to increase the brand's visibility and reach.

Stats about the collaboration:

  • According to NPD Group, Fenty Beauty was the top-selling brand in the U.S. prestige beauty market in 2018, just one year after its launch.
  • Fenty Beauty's Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation was the best-selling foundation at Sephora in 2018.
  • Fenty Beauty's launch at Sephora generated $72 million in media value in its first month, according to Tribe Dynamics.
  • In 2019, Fenty Beauty was named “Brand of the Year” at the WWD Beauty Inc Awards.

4.2 Rihanna's Ambani wedding surprise: A strategic move for Fenty Beauty's India expansion?

Rihanna's surprise appearance at Anant Ambani's pre-wedding event made waves worldwide. Fans of Fenty Beauty, myself included, wondered if her presence held a deeper significance.

Fenty Beauty, valued at $2.8 billion, hasn't tapped into the lucrative Indian beauty market. Reliance Retail, owned by the Ambani family, recently acquired Sephora India, potentially offering a pathway for Fenty Beauty's entry.

Rihanna's performance could be a strategic move to establish a connection with the Ambanis and facilitate Fenty Beauty's India debut, possibly through a partnership with Sephora India. Interestingly, Fenty Beauty didn't wait for an official announcement, launching on Nykaa's online store on March 7th.

This series of events - the Ambani connection, the strategic performance, and the swift online launch - suggests a well-planned effort by Fenty Beauty to penetrate the Indian market. Was Rihanna's performance merely a dazzling show, or part of a calculated business strategy? Time will tell, but Fenty Beauty's actions indicate a serious intent to succeed in India.

5. The Fenty effect

Fenty Beauty's launch had a significant impact on the beauty industry, particularly in terms of promoting inclusivity and diversity. The brand's success has inspired other beauty companies to follow suit and expand their shade ranges to be more inclusive.

This is called the “Fenty effect”.

From Kylie Cosmetics to Marc Jacobs, it seems like Rihanna might have shaken up the industry by catering to a market of people it has been ignoring for decades. Pop Sugar reported that since the launch, Sephora locations have seen more customers of colour than before.

According to the Daily Dot, much of this advertising started after it was announced that the darker shade foundations of Fenty Beauty were running out.

In the years since Fenty Beauty's launch, several other beauty brands have launched products with a wider shade range and marketed themselves as more inclusive. For example:

  • Huda Beauty expanded its shade range for its Faux Filter Foundation in 2018, following the launch of Fenty Beauty.
  • Too Faced expanded its Born This Way Foundation shade range to include 35 shades in 2019, after facing criticism for its lack of inclusivity.
  • Maybelline launched its SuperStay Full Coverage Foundation in 2018 with a shade range of 28 colours, which was expanded to 50 shades in 2019.
  • CoverGirl launched its TruBlend Matte Made Foundation in 2018 with a shade range of 40 colours.

In conclusion, Fenty Beauty has contributed to the creation of a new standard in the cosmetics and beauty industry. It would now be unthinkable for a brand to launch without offering products that'd fit half of the world's population. Rihanna was the first to address this market in its entirety.

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