Make 'Unique' a selling point

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February 22, 2018

by Rosie Proudlove



With personalisation a global megatrend, are brands doing enough to respond to an increasing desire for self-expression? Rihanna is…


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.

This is what makes Rihanna’s new line, Fenty Beauty, such a breath of fresh air.

Launched 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.

Personalization 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.


An authentic sensory brand that understands its audience, meeting needs at every single touchpoint; brand, pack and product.


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

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