Inclusive Beauty + Marketing | Fenty Beauty Case Study

marketing Jun 14, 2022
inclusive beauty

Inclusive beauty has been the frontier of beauty standards in recent years.

As Generation Z demands inclusivity, brands have become more open about breaking down stereotypes of size, race, gender and even class.

Starting in 2017, Fenty Beauty, known as -a disruption to the beauty industry-, was launched by celebrity Rihanna.

With over 40 shades ranging from the lightest skin tones to the most sun-kissed skin tones, Fenty Beauty was one of the first beauty brands to make every color and undertone not only seen but heard as well.

Inclusive beauty is at the core of their success.


Fenty Beauty History

At the time of launch, the brand broke the glass ceiling by including the most variation of foundation tones in any brand launch to date, making it the mecca of inclusive beauty.

Within the first month alone, the company did $100 million in sales. The company was also featured in Time Magazine’s greatest inventions (along with Tesla and the iPhone X) only two months after its initial launch.

Within a few months after Fenty's launch, the term “fenty effect” was coined.

Fenty effect encompasses the feeling of finding a foundation that matches your skin tone regardless of the complexity of your undertone or how extremely light or dark you may be. Makeup that doesn't require the user to match several different foundations to find the perfect color or even missing out on a popular product because they don't carry your shade. 

This feeling (at the time) was rare before the inception of Fenty Beauty, causing other brands that claimed to support inclusive beauty, to be ridiculed and coerced into launching shade ranges similar to that of Fenty.


Rihanna's Mission with Inclusive Beauty

Inclusive beauty isn’t a foreign concept to the beauty industry, however, the interpretation of “inclusive” has been narrow with opportunity.

Fenty Beauty was launched to leave no consumer behind.

Rihanna’s goal was “inclusivity for all.”

Not only did she want to reach the underserved communities with deeper complexions, but she also wanted lighter complexions with varying undertones to be represented as well.

Rihanna wanted to act quite literally on the concept of inclusive beauty and include something for everyone.

The idea was for her company to push boundaries and do things differently. It didn't matter if something had never been done before, the goal was to try and fail and learn from the experience…to be different is the biggest risk a new company can take. 


How Inclusive Beauty Guides Fenty's Marketing Strategy

When most of us picture a marketing team, we may imagine professionally dressed people with lots of research and graphs and specialized plans with differing responsibilities for each individual step of the marketing plan.

Fenty Beauty has shied away from “stuffy marketing campaigns”. 

The brand is known to be real, bold and relatable, referring to consumers as “besties” and personalizing the experience of the Fenty Beauty Brand.

They use “colloquialized” terms across social media channels and interact with consumers far more often than any other brand. 

Whereas other brands see it as unprofessional, Fenty Beauty has created an environment where customers trust them more as they seem extremely relatable.

They interact directly with consumers and take into consideration how customers feel about products as well as issues or inconsistencies with products. 

Fenty Beauty’s branding is simple: inclusivity and beauty for all.

Today, there are brands out there with a larger amount of foundation shades available, so why is Fenty Beauty different from any other beauty brand?

The seemingly obvious answer is having the celebrity backing of singer, Rhianna.

Fenty's success, however, stems deeper than just her. Fenty has been successful because they are big on showing us and not just telling us about what matters to them.

Their biggest marketing strategy was word of mouth. They didn't talk about how inclusive they were, their customers did. The entire internet did.

By creating an innovative product that broke the glass ceiling, they were able to grow faster than any other beauty brand in their space.



Why Inclusive Beauty Matters

All models in Fenty Beauty campaigns not only represent different skin tones, but different ethnicities, and different body types as well.

Smaller body types are not the norm for a Fenty Model, body types with varying shapes and sizes model the makeup. People with different disabilities are shown in campaigns as well as women with hijabs and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

You haven’t seen representation until you’ve seen a Fenty Beauty campaign.

At the end of the day, not only are consumers finding their complexion, they are also seeing themselves in the physical variation of the models.

Fenty Beauty doesn't have to be explicitly talking about inclusivity for customers to know that they're inclusive.


Setting the Beauty Standard

Many mainstream brands reconcile inclusivity with clear cut borders and will include a few variation skin tones of smaller models (again usually all female).

Why purchase makeup from a brand who doesn't even have any representation that looks like you?

Not only is it important to make a truly amazing product it's also imperative to connect with your audience emotionally making them feel seen. 

Fenty Beauty set the standard for inclusive beauty by actually including varying skin types from light to deep causing brands to realize how necessary representation is especially with Generation Z whom are more comfortable about expressing themselves while authentically and breaking down stereotypes. 


Written by Petreese Boodhan


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