Amazon better have my money.
At least that’s what fans of pop star Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty lingerie line might be saying about the online retail giant’s announcement today that it will stream the fashion show starting Sep. 20.
In an Amazon press release, the company said it will air the Fall/Winter 2019 runway show as an exclusive on Amazon Prime Video, which has a reach of more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. Rihanna also announced the partnership on the singer's Instagram account.
This is a big step for Savage X Fenty, which originally made its debut to the public back in May 11, 2018. Since then, the brand has shaken up the intimate apparel industry with a strong stance on body inclusivity, music, fashion and culture. Moreover, last year’s showcase made headlines when pregnant supermodel Slick Woods revealed she went into labor while she strutted down the runway and gave birth hours later.
What does a partnership like this mean for both companies?
According to consultant and consumer expert Georganne Bender of Kizer & Bender, “You take a big star like Rihanna and a big promoter like Amazon, and you’re going to get big viewership.”
Bender noted that last year’s fashion show was live-streamed on YouTube, which only had a little over 1.8 million views at the time of this article. With the marketing muscle of Amazon, more eyeballs will see this year's edition.
“They’re going to push it. Every time you open up that app on your TV or on your phone, it always says ‘Recommended for you,’ ‘Did you see this,’ ‘What’s new.’” Bender explained. “She will have her lingerie seen by more people on Amazon.com than people running into stores to see her after she releases a new product line.”
“If she had premiered this line in a department store, you don’t really know how many people will come through and either stumble upon her line or come specifically for her. But this, she can advertise it, Amazon can advertise it, and together they can really bump up the viewership,” Bender added.
With more than 50 percent of American households holding Amazon Prime memberships, according to the New York-based market research company eMarketer, there are certainly millions of eyes this partnership can come across.
In addition to the possibility of increased exposure, the Savage X Fenty brand connects with the modern consumer.
“Rihanna’s show is pretty, it’s unusual and we like the fact that it’s all-inclusive. And that’s the big thing right now when you’re selling clothing,” Bender said when asked about why the line was popular outside of name recognition.
“It doesn’t matter what you look like – we want to see real people. We want to see people who look like us. That’s going to be another big push for her and for Amazon,” she added.
When it comes to what Amazon gets out of the deal, Bender acknowledged that the e-commerce site is going after the apparel customer. This is apparent when you factor in the company’s expanded services like Prime Wardrobe’s try before you buy program and Amazon Fashion’s limited-edition or exclusive access to collections created by top brands and influencers.
“Amazon doesn’t want to be the company that just sells you random things. They want to be the place where you buy your clothing. So, they’re looking for strategic partnerships that will up their brand and up their credibility and their visibility,” Bender explained.
Collaborating with Savage X Fenty appears to be one of these calculated moves that will elevate Amazon’s branding. Though it’s unclear whether the lingerie collection will be available for purchase after the show is added to Amazon Prime Video, the prospect isn’t impossible. Two years ago year as part of its streaming of National Football League games, it offered a pre-game show which sold NFL related goods from tee-shirts to coolers.
Even if Amazon does not end up selling Savage X Fenty merchandise, the lingerie company has been successful on its own despite its infancy. Many of the items available are under $100, which makes it affordable for a variety of customers. The brand also has three locations in the U.S. along with its strong digital presence.
Having a physical store may seem surprising since many analysts have dubbed current conditions to be a “retail apocalypse,” however, it’s not necessarily unusual for brands who have dominated e-commerce to seek flagship locations.
“Online retailers are feeling the need to open up brick and mortar stores because once they hit a certain dollar value, you hit a wall,” Bender explained. “People still want to touch and feel and try on the merchandise. They love shopping online but they love shopping in brick and mortar stores.”
She went on to add that more online stores will be going down the traditional brick and mortar route. However, Bender stressed that these locations tend to be strategically placed in cities with high populations or foot traffic.
The Savage X Fenty store in Las Vegas is an example of this. “Las Vegas is where people go to try out new concepts. The retail in there is over the top,” Bender pointed out.
The Amazon move comes at a time when lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret is not performing as well as it used to. Conversely, Savage X Fenty has garnered positive publicity that connects with many of today’s customers despite it not having the reach of over a thousand brick and mortar locations like Victoria’s Secret.
According to Bender, Victoria’s Secret’s image problem is self-inflicted. “Victoria’s Secret hasn’t really changed with the times. The fashion shows are still the ‘perfect woman.’ Their stores haven’t changed. Their merchandise is still the same,” she pointed out.
In her expert opinion, the consumer wants something different. Companies that deliver on this front are connecting more with consumers because they can see themselves represented in adverts physically and stylistically.
Although Victoria’s Secret appears to be reconvening, Bender said she is eager to see what it comes up with in the upcoming year and how it will compete with companies like Savage X Fenty. “You can’t force a customer to do what you want them to do because they hold all the cards. If they don’t want to shop with you, they will go somewhere else.”