“Beauty for all” has been the mantra for mega-celebrity Rihanna’s cosmetic line, Fenty Beauty. And now, with Fenty’s recent Asian retail expansion, as well as a new local influencer strategy, Rihanna’s cosmetic brand appears to be keeping its marketing promise in China, the second-largest makeup industry in the world.
Starting September 3, Fenty Beauty will officially enter China, with retail distribution in Hong Kong, Macau at T Galleria by DFS, Sephora, Harvey Nichols, Beauty Bazaar, and Beauty Avenue and other parts of Asia — all areas that don’t require animal testing regulations — and all solid sales channels for Fenty without compromising the brand’s commitment to cruelty-free. Plus, many savvy mainland Chinese are still flying to those destinations for beauty haul.
The brand kicked off its first campaign video on Weibo, featuring a host of Chinese celebrities and influencers that are known to challenge the traditional Chinese beauty standard, such as singer Wang Ju, aka the Chinese Beyoncé, and the breakout star from the talent show Producer 101 that aired last year. Her dark-toned skin color, slightly full-figured body shape and killer confidence once ignited a wave of new beauty in China and a cult following, who find her relatable and inspirational. Once Fenty Beauty’s China launch was announced, a photo of Wang and Rihanna surfaced online and quickly climbed the trending list on Weibo, with netizens joking, “Wang Ju fulfilled the ultimate dream of starstruck fans.” Many agreed that Wang’s image fits Fenty Beauty. By working with local talents as Wang, Fenty Beauty has naturally translated the brand’s DNA of supporting diversity in beauty standard.
Western beauty brands rarely make a high-profile entry into China, but being backed by LVMH, Fenty Beauty has the marketing resources and the right talent to enter the China market even amid the current turbulent social economic state. In addition, Fenty Beauty has also quickly amassed sizable fan bases on Weibo, WeChat, and Little Red Book, who are excited to follow Fenty Beauty’s latest and affordable offerings.
A week ahead of the news, Rihanna appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, which was shot by the prolific photographer Chen Man, and its West Meets East aesthetic was not criticized but appreciated by Chinese netizens, and has helped shape a positive image for Rihanna and her brand.
However, that does not mean that the brand has landed safely there — any brand whose success largely hinges on one celebrity is vulnerable, from popularity swings to personal issues, especially in an age when things can go oh-so easily wrong on social media. Time will tell for Fenty Beauty by Rihanna. But for now, it’s certainly an interesting experiment of LVMH.