With a proliferating upscale of fashion and makeup brands, there exists a cut-throat competition to create a global brand, marshal the hype and focus, and retain market share as the best preferred by a majority. It took 4 decades for Lakme to become a globally recognised brand after it commenced post-Independence; Mac took 37 years to become a makeup brand with an exclusively high-profile niche globally. Amidst this competition, starting from zero and building an empire seems like almost a far-off dream. But Rihanna – the phenomenal singer and America’s youngest self-made billionaire who’s also an actress, fashion designer, businesswoman, and philanthropist, made an apt capitalisation of her fame and personal brand to build her business empire in the fashion industry.
Rihanna’s full-blown empire isn’t just an outcome of her fame but her active and equal involvement in all her business ventures in providing people with what they exactly want without any excuses. The saying, ‘It’s ordinary until Rihanna decides it’s not, results from her experiences and creative outlook. She isn’t just a singer, but a brand herself.
Here is how Rihanna, with her passion, inevitable hard work, and vision, reached the heights of success in the music industry, became a mogul of the makeup and fashion industries, and is now – a billionaire.
Rihanna – The brand in the making!
It all started when Rihanna was 17 and met the record producer, Evan Rogers, while he was on vacation in Barbados. He flew her to the USA and helped her record a few demos. She auditioned for Def Jam and instantly impressed the label’s president – Jay Z, and this is when her fame and career in music catapulted. In 2005, she released her first album, which debuted at the top of the charts. Since then, she has recorded several popular songs, the most recent in 2020, and has received nine Grammy Awards.
Over the years, Rihanna inked deals with fashion companies like Puma, Balabcdga & others; she was also the creative director of Dior, Armani, and CoverGirl, all owned by the giant luxury French conglomerate LMVH.
The rise of Fenty Beauty & the 50 shades of foundation
Fenty Beauty – launched in 2017 in collaboration with LMVH to promote inclusivity in the beauty industry by providing skin products for an array of skin tones, was the start of Rihanna’s business empire’s success in the makeup industry. Fenty Beauty now provides 50 shades of foundation covering the skin types that were otherwise neglected. Rihanna owns 50% of the company’s stake with LMVH, and the company is now reportedly valued at a conservative $2.8bn as per Forbes. Rihanna’s beauty line created a spark in the beauty industry and changed the conventional perceptions of makeup. Fenty Beauty uses models from many ethnicities, making the brand known as “the new generation of beauty.”
Shortly after, she introduced her next venture – Savage X Fenty—a size and skin-tone inclusive lingerie line. The brand caters to 3X sizes, including various shades and options. The company’s annual fashion show involves a dynamic set of models of varying sizes and gender expressions, promoting Rihanna’s goal of inclusivity. A $270 million of Rihanna’s wealth comes from this brand, with several backers, including Bernard Arnault, CEO of LMVH. Rihanna maintains a 30% stake in this company.
A brand for women of all shades, personalities, attitudes and cultures.
Fenty was seen as another celebrity-backed company when Rihanna founded it. The brand’s incredible accomplishment, with claimed revenues of $100 million in the first 40 days, starkly contrasted this impression. What unique aspect did Fenty provide to an already crowded market? It had to be a path that had never been taken before, and it was the path that connected the brand to its real audience.
Fenty Beauty, Rihanna’s brand, is not simply another luxury brand seeking to target a specific demographic or idealised group, but one that interacts with real people in real ways, in every manner.
Focusing on a diverse sector of women of all skin colours and being inclusive was not a new tactic, but Rihanna guaranteed that this principle of inclusion is seen, felt, and shared with actual people everywhere. Fenty Beauty was founded “so that women worldwide would be included,” emphasising a wide range of previously difficult-to-match skin tones, formulas that work for all skin types, and universal shades. Above all, her mission is to encourage people that makeup is meant to be enjoyable.
Fenty’s website, Instagram page, and YouTube videos all featured models with different skin tones and backgrounds. This connected with people and helped them believe in Fenty’s basic concept of inclusivity.
Leveraging the power of Creator Economy & Strategic Social Media Usage
While most brands have idealistic videos on YouTube and Instagram concerning their brands, Fenty’s approach was the one that had just existed in a utopian world before. Rihanna used her own Instagram to reach her target market in the way they wanted. Telling them a story they wanted to hear. She posted videos which weren’t top-notch but just like any video on a typical day, captured on her phone, applying Fenty’s products. And this pattern was prevalent even on all official Fenty platforms. She used social media like her customers do, which is what marshalled the attention towards her brand.
The marketing strategy used:
- Sticking to authenticity and the value of inclusivity while marketing their products to their target markets.
- Keeping the customers at the top, always.
- Constant innovation and aesthetics
- Bringing in an element of personal touch
Along with a strong business model and a strategic market positioning, Rihanna leverages the power of the creator economy, connecting with her followers, who are mainly the people who are Fenty’s target market. The brand isn’t exponentially expensive with reasonable competitive rates like similar brands, but with more variety, authenticity, quality, and options.
Rihanna’s business model shows her zeal for contributing and makes everyone feel a part of the whole. This exact zeal and passion have led her entrepreneurial ventures to soar to great heights.
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