Rihanna – A Study in Marketing

Taken from my LinkedIn post:

Have you ever looked at an advertisement for a company and wondered, “what the heck were they thinking?” or “why should I even care about this?” Well I’m here to give you some comforting words – the marketing departments behind those advertisements were probably wondering the exact same thing so you’re not alone.

More often than not, you’ll find that many companies, particularly in the technology industry often suffer from an identity crisis. They either think that they’re way better than they are or don’t know exactly what aspects of their business/service/etc. make them great. In my experience, I have found that when marketing a product, there are two ends of a spectrum and one equilibrium point that represents “marketing perfection” if you will. So without further ado, I would like to introduce you to Part 1 of my version of the celebrity marketing spectrum.


Quick, what do you know about Rihanna? If you’re like the majority of people that know about her, you will never know Rihanna for having an amazing vocal range. Her singing skills are average at best. Then why is she so successful?

Judging by her millions of social media followers and reading what they write, Rihanna is simply cool. People like following her career because in some sense, they’re living vicariously through her. People read magazines and blogs to find out what she’s wearing, what she’s doing, and where she is. Again, you can say what you want about her, but she probably won’t hear you as she laughs while cashing another check.

The same can be said about certain products. You may have started a company or work for a company that doesn’t have the most original idea. But that’s ok. Like a philosopher by the name of Drake once said, “it ain’t about who did it first, it’s about who did it right.” Your product doesn’t always have to be a “once in a lifetime” product. If it fulfills a need and does so in a manner and style that mainstream society will be receptive to, that’s what your marketing strategy should focus on.

The company Beats comes to mind when I think of the “Rihanna side” of marketing. Beats headphones don’t employ this secret, proprietary technology and the sound quality isn’t the greatest compared with other headphones on the market. But, they marketed to their strengths. They went for the cool factor by partnering with a well known celebrity, hence the name of the iconic headphones, Beats by Dre. They also made their headphones extremely stylish and showed your favorite athletes/celebrities wearing them. And just like that, the consumer wasn’t buying headphones, they were buying a lifestyle. The last time I checked, Beats did alright after that.


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