data social media

Rihanna + brand = license to print money, thanks to the fans


Who’s the biggest celebrity in the world? No, let me ask that again… who’s the most marketable celebrity in the world? Move over Gigi, Kendall, Gisele, Kim, Jennifer, Justin, Harry and all those other celebs I can’t bring myself to list. Step forward Rihanna.

Her fans have more distinctive brand preferences than those of any other big-name celebrity in any genre (including athletes, actors, musicians, and others), according to data from researcher The NPD Group.

NPD’s new BrandLink database identifies the brand preferences of fans to help marketers identify the celebrities with which brand users are most likely to engage.

But do celebs really influence our product choices? Interestingly, I used to work in a job where we regularly published celeb style reports and subscribers always denied being interested in them – but the hit rates were always through the roof.

The fact is that fame sells but, as this report shows, not all fame is equal. It all depends on the fans.

According to NPD, a celebrity is considered to be a strong endorsement opportunity for a brand if the fans of that celebrity are at least 50% more likely to use the brand. The endorsement score shown below reflects the relative marketability of big-name celebrities, based on the total number of brands for whom they would be a strong endorser. RiRi’s index score of 367 means that she has almost 3.7 times as many strong brand endorsement opportunities as the average big-name celebrity. Besides those shown in the chart below, Rihanna outranks other well-known celebrities including Angelina Jolie, Tim McGraw, Coldplay, and Stephen Curry.


One of the many brands that drove Rihanna’s top endorsement score was Jeep, which means that her fans show a distinct preference for Jeep. On the surface, if Jeep were considering a celebrity endorsement, it might think that Rihanna and Beyonce are equally good choices. Both are chart-topping female R&B stars with very similar fan bases. However, BrandLink shows that Rihanna’s fans are much more likely to choose that vehicle because of her links with it.

“Celebrities are media properties in their own right, with audiences that have nuanced brand preferences,” said Barbara Zack, NPD vice-president. “In the same way that every sitcom is not equally valuable to a particular brand, neither is every celebrity equally valuable to a particular brand.”

Although this analysis is focused on big-name celebrities (those with over 10 million big fans), the database includes lesser known talent as well. Smaller celebrities with a high number of brand endorsement opportunities include talent as diverse as M.I.A. (rap/hip-hop), Michelle Phan (YouTube), and Luis Suárez (soccer).

This post first appeared on, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday

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