As Gained A Bunch of Followers, Fenty Beauty Flopped in Endorsement

How to launch and develop deeper in the Chinese market in a more appropriate and sustainable way is still an issue that other international brands need to pay attention to.

Fenty Beauty is a new beauty brand launched in September 2017 by singer Rihanna and LVMH beauty incubator Kendo Brands.With Rihanna’s deep personal characteristics, Fenty Beauty is featured by inclusivity with its products for all skin types and skin tones. For example, its foundation were launched in 40 shades.

Founded in 2017, Fenty Beauty has quickly grown into one of the most sought-after makeup brands just in 4 years. In 40 days of opening, Fenty Beauty reached $100 million in sales. In fiscal year of 2018, the brand surpassed $584 million in global sales. Fenty Beauty was highly anticipated at launch due to the immense popularity of Rihanna herself. Long before the brand announced its entry into the Chinese market, there was already a lot of buzz about the brand and its products on Weibo, Xiaohongshu and other Chinese social media platforms.

In June 2019, Fenty Beauty launched its official account in Weibo and Xiaohongshu releasing a number of advertising videos and product posters one after another. On September 3, 2019, Fenty Beauty announced the launch of its Tmall International overseas flagship store and opened the Tmall Super Brand Day on September 20, 2019.

The head of Fenty Beauty has said, “The rising demand for makeup among young Chinese consumers and the ultra-sensitivity of social media and online shopping have driven Fenty Beauty to enter the Chinese market. And Tmall International, which gathers young consumers and helps overseas brands grow quickly, is undoubtedly preferred platform for the brand to enter China”.

The star effect of Rihanna and the reputation accumulated in social networks make Fenty Beauty a hot fashion makeup brand today. Its Tmall International overseas flagship store was launched in half a day to attract more than 50,000 followers. In September 2019, the brand ranked No. 1 in the makeup highlighter category in the first month of sales with sales exceeding $15 million in the first year. More than 200,000 pieces of Diamond Bomb Highlighter were sold.

Fenty Beauty entered China with the strategy of “creating hot-selling products”, mainly focusing on the skinstick and highlighter. From the Tmall overseas flagship store, the sales of Fenty Beauty skinstick and highlighter are among the top three hot products in the store. The sales of skinstick and highlighter account for 50% of the total sales of the store. Among them, the monthly sales of skinstick are 30,000+ and the monthly sales of highlighter are 6,000+.

Discussions on Chinese social media platforms also reflect that. Currently, Fenty Beauty-related discussions on Weibo include 44% of total volume for the skinstick and highlighter. It is good to say that the Skinstick and Highlighter are synonymous with the Fenty Beauty at this stage.

Fenty Beauty has been looking for new ways to market itself in China since it gained a foothold in the market in 2019. In April 2020, it launched the “Fenty Face Fresh” collaborative collection with HEYTEA, giving a new spark to two brands that were both created in the social media era. Then, Fenty Skin launched its new skincare line including face cleanser, moisturizer and serum on July 31, 2020.

Although Fenty Beauty is doing well in all aspects today, it was controversial in its early days in China because its ambassador Li Kaixin did not match its positioning.

When Fenty Beauty entered China, it announced “Li Kaixin” as its ambassador. However, the majority of consumers resisted and said: “I don’t know this person, who is this person?”, “It doesn’t match the brand positioning at all”, and “I will never buy Fenty Beauty products again. ……

People argued she doesn’t match the brand image. The most fundamental reason for this awkward situation is that Fenty Beauty needs to use celebrities to raise brand awareness and open up the market locally when it first lands in China. But because Fenty Beauty doesn’t understand the Chinese market, it ends up in a situation where consumers don’t accept.

Fenty Beauty then opened up its market by selecting popular icon Fan Cheng Cheng as its spokesperson for China. Under the official announcement of Fan’s endorsement, a netizen commented, “Sales in its flagship store doubled within an hour after Fan became the spokesperson. That’s the reason, win-win partnership.”

Fenty Beauty also corporate with many other celebrities. The brand has chosen Wang Ju and fashion blogger Mia Kong, a friend of it, because their personalities match the its image, which is good for the brand to introduce style of the brand to unfamiliar consumers when entering the Chinese market.

Now that China has become the second largest market for cosmetics. More and more international brands are looking to enter the country. It is still a matter for other international brands to pay attention to how to launch and develop in China in a more appropriate and sustainable way.



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