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The Fenty Beauty Launch: A Social Media Love Affair

Fenty Beauty Launch social media
Fenty Beauty’s first campaign, “Beauty for All” launched on 8 September 2017, during New York Fashion Week beginning with teaser Instagram posts appearing on 1 September 2017.

These posts continued on a daily basis until the launch of the YouTube trailer “Shades for All” (Fenty Beauty By Rihanna, 2017) on 8 September, the website going live, an in-store Sephora launch in 17 countries and an immersive launch party with a strategically democratic guest list that included fans, beauty influencers and celebrity makeup artists.

The launch was the biggest beauty brand launch in the history of YouTube (Saputo, 2019) with 132 million views of Fenty Beauty related content (ThinkwithGoogle, 2019).

According to Heath (2017) Fenty Beauty’s Instagram account grew from 100,000 followers and had grown to 1.6 million followers in one month. In the same month, there were nearly 80,000 posts about the brand with over 1.6 billion organic impressions.

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Fenty Beauty on Instagram (Heath, 2022)

Sandy Saputo, Chief Marketing Officer at Kendo Brands, the incubator division of LVMH, the parent company of Fenty Beauty, describes the “surgical precision” required to launch in 17 countries and 1600 retail stores simultaneously. Under the surface of the social media flurry, there was a precise strategy involving brand and merchandising, supply chain, marketing, social media and retail team (Saputo, 2019).

The Importance of Brand and Marketing Integrity

Looking at the launch campaign through the lens of Kaplan and Haenlein’s (2011) Five Pieces of Advice framework, Fenty Beauty created the perfect environment for a viral social media marketing event. Primarily, the range was impeccably developed with customer needs and product quality at the forefront of the process and the icing on the cake was the marketing ethos of “showing, not telling”. Had any piece of the puzzle been missing along the way, the brand may not have had such spectacular success at the launch. Fenty Beauty’s social media success was the integration of all aspects of product development, distribution, PR and marketing being firmly in place, prior to the launch.

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Five pieces of advice when spreading a virus (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2011)

Fenty Beauty was even named one of the 25 best inventions of 2017 by Time Magazine (Time, 2017) due to 40 skin true foundation shades that revolutionised the cosmetics industry.

Guests at the launch party were given a generous and beautifully packaged Fenty makeup kit. The following day, from his luxury hotel room in New York, YouTube makeup artist Jeffree Star (who currently has over 16 million subscribers) released the first video review of Fenty Beauty (Jeffree Star, 2017) which to date has had over 13 million views.

Jeffree Star YouTube 2017

Miller & Lammas (n.d.) discuss how social media has empowered consumers to become confident members of brand communities. By engaging meaningfully with the YouTube beauty community, social media influencers, beauty vloggers, makeup artists and fans to the experiential launch party, Fenty Beauty began more than just a successful celebrity beauty line. The launch began a meaningful global dialogue across social media on inclusivity in the beauty industry.

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Foundation Review|| Nyma Tang #thedarkestshade 2017

I wanted everyone to feel included. That’s the real reason I made the line. Beauty for all, that’s what I believe in.

Rihannah (Bailey 2020)

This was communicated in her hands-on approach, from her initial vision and development of the products and packaging through to applying makeup and taking selfies with guests.

Your Thoughts?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this, please leave your comments below!



Heath, H. (2022). LinkedIn.

Harker, L. (2020). How Fenty Beauty Has Built Brand Awareness — and Won.

Jeffree Star. (2017). FENTY BEAUTY by RIHANNA… HIT OR MISS?! | Jeffree Star [YouTube Video]. In YouTube.

Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2011). Two hearts in three-quarter time: How to waltz the social media/viral marketing dance. Business Horizons, 54(3), 253–263.

LVMH. (2017, September 18). Rihanna launches Fenty Beauty by Rihanna makeup brand with Sephora exclusive – LVMH. LVMH.

Miller, R., & Lammas, N. (n.d.). Social media and its implications for viral marketing.

Saputo, S. (2019, June 17). How Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty delivered “Beauty for All” — and a wake-up call to the industry. Think with Google; ThinkwithGoogle.

Tang, N. (2017). Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Foundation Review|| Nyma Tang #thedarkestshade [YouTube Video]. In YouTube.

Time. (2017, November 16). The 25 Best Inventions of 2017. Time; Time.



(2) Comments

  1. Of course Rihanna’s celebrity was a factor in the initial success, but the impeccable product development, laser sharp launch execution and sound ethical focus is what has translated into the success and out beauty giants like Estee Lauder on notice. Other celebrities launch lines, but after the initial flush of success, they flatline.

  2. fand0006 says:

    Hi Diane

    What an interesting and informative look at the Fenty Beauty launch. The calculated marketing and precision in which all elements culminated in a highly successful launch. And even with the creation of perfect conditions for viral social media growth and immediate presence across several platforms I cannot help but find this scenario unrealistic.

    The popularity and fame of Rhianna cannot be discounted in the brands social media success. By associating with Rhianna Fenty Beauty was bound to achieve a steep organic rise in following and initial success. I wonder if the brand the launched independent of Rhianna if it would have had such success?


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