Can a Brand Expand into Too Many Markets?14 Apr, 20235 minutes
I was browsing the internet earlier today and came across a news headline from a couple of m...
I was browsing the internet earlier today and came across a news headline from a couple of months ago about the potential return of Rihanna's Fenty x Puma partnership that was initially conceived and released between 2014 to 2017.
The article went on to question the viability and future success of the collaboration now that the marketplace has exploded with celebrity-fronted brand spaces like Yeezy/Adidas, Jordans, Drake/Nike, and so forth.
However, rather than focus solely on whether competition will impact the brand as the LinkedIn thread does, I would like to pivot the question in a slightly different direction.
Will the Fenty brand itself negatively impact the success of the Fenty x Puma partnership?
Since the original Fenty X Puma campaigns launched in 2016, Rihanna and the team behind the Fenty brand name have expanded tremendously successfully into a multitude of other markets, from lingerie (Savage X Fenty) to luxury fashion (Fenty) to the highly successful Fenty Beauty.
These endeavours combined have enabled Rihanna to ascend to billionaire status with business insider reporting that Savage X Fenty is valued at $1 billion, while Fenty Beauty is worth $2.8 billion.
With undeniable success under its belt and successful expansions already experienced into other markets, what is the cap on Fenty’s brand power? And can a brand oversaturate itself by stretching itself too thin?
Let us hypothesise that to buy a Fenty product is to buy into an “experience”. In purchasing the product beyond just its use-case scenario, a factor in your decision-making came from the fact that it is Rihanna’s product.
If I have already bought into the Fenty lifestyle through purchasing makeup, lingerie, and other items, will I be as eager to purchase a new shoe line or product? After all, if I already own a dozen other Fenty items, what makes the shoe collaboration special?
It’s an interesting question regarding the power of marketing, brand propositions and overall brand loyalty that brings to mind whether or not exclusivity in a brand really drives sales.
What makes the Fenty x Puma partnership special when it has a) been done before and b) stands in line with a dozen other products on the marketplace with the Fenty name? The sheer volume of Fenty products on the market could potentially dilute the impact of a new product. In essence, maybe it’s possible that the brand will become a victim of its own success.
A Possible Counter Argument: The Apple Ecosystem
One could counter the theory that the Fenty brand has diluted its impact by expanding into other markets by citing another named brand that has successfully expanded into many markets without experiencing a dip in sales; Apple Inc.
Apple's wide array of products that proliferate into other aspects of a user's life and connect to each other is one of its key selling points and attractions to consumers. Numerous studies have shown that Apple's dominance in the tech industry today stems from users incorporating multiple Apple products into their lifestyle experience, rather than relying on a single product.
From the iPhone to the Apple Tags, AirPods, MacBooks and more, Apple has expanded its reach to the degree where it is no longer simply a product for many, but a way of life. Each product compliments the other and connects in a way that makes the products a “walled garden” whereby the true benefits of each item are only truly maximised if used in conjunction with another.
“Apple is able to create the ecosystem because Apple does not design around a single device. They design products around the ecosystem. It used to design around a single device, but sometime around the iPad and iPhone era, the ecosystem emerged and now silently becoming a dominant feature of the Apple experience. Furthermore, Apple does not market the ecosystem overtly, but subtly.” - https://techjourneyman.com/blog/apple-ecosystem-explained/
It could be argued that in a similar way, Fenty as a name is attempting to cash into as many markets as possible to become an ecosystem of products. Simply owning one Fenty product (as suggested earlier) under this idea isn’t enough and simply stands as one part of a bigger piece.
The possible bite back to this idea would be that tech products, in contrast with the more fashion-focused pieces of the Fenty brand, offer more benefits and incentives to cash in on an ecosystem (AirTags only working fully with iPhones, for example). What true benefit other than possessing all the Fenty pieces is there other than social capital and the satisfaction that “you have all the products?”
Of course, this is just a small theory into the possible peril of expanding your brand name and is by no means a suggestion that Fenty x Puma can’t garner interest simply by having stellar products. If the product launch receives a lacklustre response, mentioning overexposure as a possible cause in addition to other reasons such as competition from other brands, lack of exclusivity, and authenticity may be worthwhile.
It remains to be seen what impact “the second coming of Rihanna x Puma” will have in the marketplace but it does conjure up interesting questions regarding the strength of celebrity partnerships and what brand propositions are to consumers as they grow in scale.
From the brief tease offered which harkens back to Michael Jordan’s famous NBA comeback in 1995, it’s clear both parties seem heavily invested in promoting the venture and up for tearing the rulebook and trying new approaches to marketing.
Perhaps it’s through a unique marketing push that clearly differentiates it away from the other Fenty products that the collaboration will succeed. Only time will tell, and we look forward to seeing how Rihanna’s continued Fenty empire continues to evolve.