Companies frequently spend millions on advertising when launching a new product to create awareness and spark sales. Strategies range from paid social media campaigns, out-of-home advertising, and even pop-up shops where consumers can immerse themselves in the brand—and buy the product—in their favorite store.

But what if you could use a celebrity’s existing brand loyalty to catapult your product launch? That’s the idea behind the growing influencer movement. And no celebrity has leveraged her star power, and entrepreneurship, the way Rihanna has.

Filling a Gap

A singer, songwriter, fashion designer, and all-around icon, Rihanna burst on the scene in 2005. This multi-talented superstar stormed the music industry, and to date has won 9 Grammys, 13 American Music Awards, and 12 Billboard Music Awards. She broke into the fashion world in 2014 as the Creative Director/Brand Ambassador for Puma. In 2017, Rihanna launched her Fenty Beauty line, which later named by Time Magazine as one of the best inventions of 2017.

As an actress, model, artist, entrepreneur, and black woman, Rihanna recognized a critical need in the makeup industry for inclusive makeup shades that perform well on all skin types and tones:

“I wanted things that I love. Then I also wanted things that girls of all skin tones could fall in love with. In every product I was like, ‘There needs to be something for a dark-skinned girl; there needs to be something for a really pale girl; there needs to be something in-between.’ …You want people to appreciate the product and not feel like: ‘Oh that’s cute, but it only looks good on her.’”

            -Rihanna for Refinery29

Rihanna launched her makeup line Fenty Beauty with the goal of satisfying a multicultural customer base. Rihanna understood women with darker skin and special skin conditions struggled to find makeup that was suited for their skin. And, if they found an appropriate makeup, the pricing was significantly higher compared to brands catering lighter skin tones.

Fenty Beauty’s ProFiltr foundation has 40 shades, the most of any brand at the date of Fenty’s launch.

Rihanna was 100 percent involved in the creation of the makeup line, including packaging, marketing, and formulation. She used her own experience as a starting point, inspired by the number of times she’d walked away from the makeup chair disappointed.

After Fenty Beauty’s launch, many of the top makeup brands rushed to catch up. It was too late. Fenty Beauty had become the new industry standard for inclusive, high-quality, affordable makeup.

Using Influencers

Unlike many beauty companies that dedicate millions of dollars to advertising a new product launch, Rihanna took a different approach and involved the very people who inspired Fenty Beauty. She had the existing brand recognition–and she wanted to prove her products were high quality. So for her Brooklyn, NY launch party during New York Fashion Week, she invited fans, celebrities, beauty bloggers, and makeup artists to sample her 40 shades of makeup and engage with the product. She provided makeup kits for everyone to take home, and invited her guests to provide honest feedback about the products.

The next month, Rihanna invited her fans and influencers to join her in an immersive experience to produce her beauty film together in real-time.

Fans, bloggers, and celebrities began purchasing the makeup line and took to social media to provide honest feedback on the products. They praised Rihanna for listening to their opinions and offering products that they called “life-changing.” Rihanna highlighted the feedback, reviews, and videos on Fenty Beauty’s social media channels. She trusted her product’s quality, and it paid off–a majority of the reviews were overwhelmingly positive. Rihanna’s efforts garnered about $72 million the first month after the launch. The company was valued at $471 million in 2018.

Using Influencer Marketing to Elevate Your Brand

You might not be Rihanna–but you can take lessons from her.

  1. Let your fan base do the talking for you. Doing so gives your brand a new level of transparency and authenticity. Provide customers with the opportunity to share their honest opinions. Use positive feedback to promote your brand, and use negative feedback to make improvements.
  2. Trust in your product’s quality. Creating a great product that meets your customers’ needs should be your primary focus.
  3. Address diversity and inclusion. Rihanna realized that many of her competitors believed darker makeup shades wouldn’t sell—and in turn pioneered the concept of “beauty for all.” Now brands such as Revlon and Dior are trying to catch up to her success. Diversity and inclusiveness expand your customer base and build brand loyalty.

Ready to grow your brand? Get in touch to discuss how an influencer marketing strategy can reduce your advertising spend and grow your bottom line.