Why Must We Always Compare?

A Look At The Rhetoric Surrounding Fenty Beauty & Kylie Cosmetics.

Since the launch of Fenty Beauty, I’ve seen several articles and commentary around the differences between Fenty Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics. The inclusivity of Fenty Beauty and the seemingly lack there of (until the success of Fenty Beauty) with Kylie Cosmetics. Why must we always compare?

I’ve been disturbed by this because I don’t believe there is only one way to do things and I don’t believe we all have to do the same things in order to be successful. Most importantly I do not believe in negative comparisons, particularly when it’s done to pit one against the other.

Let me breakdown and address two of the most common “issues” I have observed in the social sphere in recent days as it relates to the two brands:

1) Fenty Beauty’s release of over 40 shades of foundation to cater to multiple shades of women of color has changed the future of the beauty industry…it’s a shame Kylie Cosmetics didn’t do the same given how much the Kardashians love black culture.

Why couldn’t the commentary have stopped at the amazing leap forward that Fenty Beauty brought to the market? Why couldn’t the fact that Rihanna recognized a major deficit in the market and attacked it (the sign of great business acumen) be the story. Who cares or should care how much the Kardashians do or don’t love black culture (yes I have heard the arguments and accusations made against them regarding cultural appropriation, it frankly doesn’t bother me but that’s another conversation) and that being a driving force behind their business choices?

Rihanna’s identification of that gap in the market by ALL beauty brands is what has made her launch and brand so special. Let’s leave it at that.

2) Why is it that Fenty Beauty is still available in stock days after its launch and Kylie Cosmetics & KKW Beauty sell out in minutes. What’s really going on?

This “issue” confounded me as the marketing & sales approach for both brands are completely different models. One went the traditional corporate route with a major machine behind the development and launch and the other used strictly social media and no traditional advertising to launch and roll out product.

Both models have proven to be successful so this shouldn’t even be a big deal or issue unless when being discussed in terms of marketing approaches and how young brand can / should consider which of these approaches will work for them and utilize them as case studies.

One approach is not better than the other. They BOTH show how celebs who take full control of their brands can cause a shift in industry. These are good things, not negative competitive things.

What’s bothered me the most about all the negative comparisons between the two brands is what’s being lost in the process. Two young, smart, and creative women have chosen to use their platform to change the dynamics of a century’s old system.

One, as a 19 year old has chosen to use her fame, money, and social influence to build a business that rivals most major companies. She could have spent her time & money on much less desirable things that other kids her age with just as much privilege are doing. She should be applauded not torn down.

The other, has a mega superstar entertainer has privately donated millions of dollars to help the underprivileged around the world and is now leveraging her popularity, celebrity, and access to bringing the spending power and needs of women of color to the forefront and forcing the industry to wake up, see how much money they are leaving on the table, and understand there is no benefit to marginalizing people of color. That is an amazing feat that should be applauded with no comparison to what anyone else is doing. That accomplishment stands on its own.

People, it’s okay for two brands to serve overlapping markets. It’s ok for one to identify what the other didn’t. It’s okay for one to learn and even adapt to the others philosophy. It’s ALL ok. It doesn’t have to be negatively received. If you feel a brand is inauthentic and doesn’t speak to you, don’t buy it. Plain and simple.

But let’s hold each other up, particularly as women in all our variations. Let’s celebrate our wins independently without comparison. Let’s understand that no matter how you slice it, we are kicking butt and taking names.

Why Must We Always Compare


Elaine Mensah

Elaine Mensah is a strategist + creative experienced in the communications, fashion, tech and entrepreneurship realms. A natural at conceptualizing creative ideas and translating them into vivid realities, she has been the fuel behind the business development strategies for a global portfolio of clients.