We are told
that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’.
Really? In this age of Instagram
and the airbrushed ‘selfie’, beauty is increasingly about expressing one’s
unique aesthetics to others. Which isn’t
ideal for mass produced beauty brands, often trotting out the same 16-year-old
Caucasian faces to sell products which are meant to appeal globally, to women whose skin features far more than the same 6
shades of pale beige.
what makes Rihanna’s new line, Fenty Beauty, such a breath of fresh air.
with an unprecedented suite of 40 ‘boundary breaking’ foundation shades, this is
a brand that has made inclusivity and expression its central USP across the product
range, its global availability and its brand communications, featuring a range
of personalities and skin shades. Crucially, unlike so many other celebrity-led
brands, Rihanna is only one of the faces promoting Fenty Beauty. This isn’t an exercise in getting Rihanna’s
look, but how to be your own best self. Fenty
have understood how to be meaningfully distinctive – by empowering the
distinctiveness of their own audience.
is not unique to Rhianna’s range. There
has been a shift to customizable formulations for some time now. In skincare, we have Clinique’s Smarttm Custom Serum, while in cosmetics: Eyeko’s customisable mascara. However, I would
argue that none have done personalization with as much credibility and success
as Fenty. Designed specifically for the Instagram generation (its main
foundation is even named Pro-Filtr), its
ethos has paid huge dividends. It has
already been celebrated across social media, with many women - from albino to
the darkest shades – advocating the fact that they’ve finally found a foundation
that genuinely matches their skin. But this isn’t just social media dazzle dust
– the queues in stores and product waiting lists show a genuine commercial
success story: a brand that celebrates women who have sought recognition of their
existence for years.
Fenty Beauty has accomplished what so many others have tried and failed to do. An authentic sensory brand that understands its audience, meeting needs at every single touchpoint; brand, pack and product. Fenty Beauty conveys an authentic brand story – and crucially - has a product that genuinely supports this
In line with our own research into the codes consumers use to detect premium, Fenty have discovered that authenticity and confidence are critical equities to sustain a higher price point. Despite its inclusive appeal, Fenty genuinely isn’t meant for everyone. It will only appeal to those who can justify spending £30 ($45) on a foundation. But what it has done is to understand the experience of its audience. It has, as a result, been welcomed with open arms, in a way few other brands that have parroted feminist self-expression, have successfully managed.
Listen up brand owners – this is how you do it.
Rosie Proudlove is Research Manager at MMR