Rihanna arrives in Madrid to launch her new Fenty brand, disrupting the world of beauty

September 24, 2017

This weekend I’m in Madrid celebrating my 50th birthday, but somehow Rihanna gatecrashed the party.

My route to my favourite Plaza Mayor restaurant was barred by enormous crowds and security staff. Was it a surprise birthday party laid on by my colleagues at IE Business School? Were U2 playing another impromptu street concert to prelaunch their new album? Or was Christian Ronaldo just out going out to his local tapas bar? No it was Rihanna on the latest stop of her global tour.

This was like a branding case study in real time:

  • Fenty Beauty is much more than another celebrity endorsement. The motivation behind the new brand, and every detail of the product range have become a passion of the singer.
  • Sephora’s link up with the new brand ensures exclusive promotion and distribution rights in every city as part of the tour, helping the retailer in its quest for a more edgy, exciting brand image.
  • Fenty’s design in every sense, from launch communications to identity graphics, product designs and merchandising have all been distinctive and bold, in a beauty world of sameness.
  • Rihanna’s whirlwind global launch tour, a different capital city each evening means that she maximises the few moments in each location, and builds rapid global amplification.
  • The authenticity of a personal appearance, whipping up local crowds and media into a frenzy, keeping the details secret to the last moment, is far more real than any TV ads or posters

Every day, yet more new brands and products are launched into the $445 billion beauty marketplace, with the vast majority of their products are designed for young, white women. The beauty mainstream. While the whole concept of mainstream in beauty just feels contradictory – isn’t the idea of enhancing your beauty, not to be “average”? –  gradually more diverse options are emerging, in styles, in business models, and for the vast majority of non-average consumers.

Rihanna is more than a celebrity – she cares about people too.  The superstar is using her star power to send the message that the fashion and beauty industries need to pay closer attention to women of every colour – black, Asian, white and everything in between.

This year, she launched Fenty Beauty, a makeup line designed to make women everywhere feel included. The brand formulates foundations to suit a wide range of skin tones and contouring makeup sticks that can be customised to specific complexions. It also develops products, such as the Stunna Lip Paint, that are designed to work on all faces. At $24 for a lipstick and $34 for foundation, the collection is not outrageously priced. And with instant brand appeal, it looks like being a winner.

Fenty Beauty is a “gamechanger” for the beauty world.

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