Most may view Nicki Minaj as just another rapper/singer/performer; but the multi-faceted entertainer is much more than that, she’s a bankable brand that’s only just begun to blossom. In a few short years, Nicki has influenced trends through her music and unmistakable fashion sense, and her involvement in cosmetics, television, hair and even the floral industry (Nicki has exclusive pink collection bouquets available on flowers.com for Valentine’s Day) has helped spike sales and visibility for a number of ancillary brands. Whether her detractors like it or not, Ms. Minaj is a one-woman marketing guru. BlackEnterprise.com takes a look at some of the brands the young starlet has—directly or indirectly—helped bolster by association. —Andreas Hale (Images: Getty)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: Even the most skeptical doubter has to acknowledge Nicki’s star power following her presence on theJanuary 29th episode of SNL, propelling the famed sketch comedy show to its second highest rated episode of the season (second only to the Jan. 8 show hosted by comedian Jim Carey). As the week’s musical guest, she performed twice and showed her acting chops in a pair of sketches that helped deliver an average viewer rating of 3.2 with 18-49-year-olds in 25 markets. With a season featuring seasoned guests ranging from Kanye West, Eminem and Lil Wayne to Robert DeNiro, Scarlett Johansson and Anne Hathaway, we have to consider this a monumental feat. Sure, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg also made an appearance on the show, but chances are more people tuned in because they “liked” Nicki.
MAC LIPSTICK: Last November, Nicki launched a limited edition, cotton candy pink lipstick with MAC Cosmetics right around the release of her debut album, Pink Friday. The lipstick—named “Pink 4 Friday”—was only on the market for four Fridays but had fans chasing down the Minaj-cosigned lip color, selling out in a matter of hours on the day of its release. MAC’s parent company, Estee Lauder, just so happened to see its fiscal second quarter earnings rise at a better-than-expected clip of 34% as a direct benefit of “strong holiday sales.” Darling Nicki may have had a hand (and a pouty mouth) in that increase.
BARBIE: Often referring to herself as the “Harajuku Barbie” and her legion of fans as “Barbies” and “Kens,” Nicki has become an unofficial spokeswoman for the long-running doll line. Last year Mattel saw a 9% increase in fourth quarter sales, which were propelled by a strong showing by Barbie dolls. In fact, Barbie revenue saw an 8% increase by itself. While there are no stats to show how much of a direct impact Nicki’s continual mentioning of the popular brand had on those figures, the free promo definitely didn’t hurt (and we bet a Nicki Minaj doll of some sort is probably in the works).
WIG BUSINESS: In addition to her music and unique fashion sense, Nicki Minaj is also known for her assortment of Japanese anime-inspired wigs, most notably ones with colorful tresses cut in a bang that have found their way on to the heads of many young ladies. A Google search for the term “Nicki Minaj wigs” will pull up multiple websites selling hairpieces inspired by the rap star. Atlanta wig retailer Hair Fiction—who is among the first to design a Nicki Minaj wig—says that the headpiece launched last June and has been their monthly top seller ever since. According to market research by Mintel, the Black hair business generated over $165 million in 2008 and with her pink wig in tow Nicki continues to think big, get cash and make them blink fast.
ALBUM SALES: In a day and age where albums are selling a mere fraction of what they were a decade ago, Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday managed to sell a remarkable 375,000 copies in its first week of release. Despite being released the same day as proven star and multi-platinum seller Kanye West (who had a 496k showing in his debut week), she still secured the second highest opening week sales ever for a female rapper, behind Lauryn Hill and her Grammy-winning 1998 release, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill. It was also the first time in two years that the Billboard 200 saw two albums bow out with more than 300k units sold. Even more impressive, Nicki is currently outpacing West in weekly sales and recently broke the one million mark making her the first female rapper to have a No. 1 album in the U.S. since Eve’s Let There Be Eve… Ruff Ryders First Lady back in 1999. More than anything, Nicki’s numbers show that she can influence other brands while still maintaining her own as a viable commodity.