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The Truth About Kylie Jenner’s $800m Cosmetics Empire

Kylie Jenner’s cosmetics empire was recently featured on the cover of Forbes magazine – America’s most prolific business monthly.

Whilst much contention was raised about the claims that her wealth was “self-made” (which it wasn’t), the bigger question was how this actually happened – and the numbers behind it.

Jenner’s “Kylie Cosmetics” business has raked in an estimated $660m in sales during its 3 year lifespan, with $330m in 2017 alone.

Whilst the business is private, and thus its numbers are not publicly available, even if these estimates were 50% off, the figures would be staggering.

What’s more – the “company” only has 7 full time employees. Everything from packaging to PR is outsourced, and the only way that Jenner gets customers is by leveraging her 110m Instagram followers.

This article examines how it was done.

Social Midas

The core of Jenner’s success has been the 110m followers on Instagram.

The company doesn’t advertise outside of the platform, doesn’t have any shops or stockists and generally just peddles its products directly to its community.

Whilst this sounds like a marketer’s wet dream, the most important element was Jenner’s lips.

In 2017, precisely 2 years after registering the trademark for her brand, tabloids around the world started running reports on the size of them; with the help of fillers, she’d managed to almost quadruple their size.

The point here is not so much about what she looks like, but how she capitalized on the interest… she’d inadvertently uncovered one of the biggest “trends” of the modern West – women lusting over youthful, full lips.

To this end, putting $250k of her modelling money into 15,000 lip kits, she set up a page to sell them online. Almost instantaneously, they sold out.

Whilst this was a great step, the next process was Jenner’s omnipotent mother – Kris Kardashian – bringing in Shopify in February 2016 in order to make the business a fully fledged ecommerce operation.

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