HOLLYWOOD—A billionaire? Yes, Kylie Jenner, 20, is on track to become a billionaire, with a total of 160 million social media followers. When did it all begin? Miss Jenner was just 10 years old when she made her debut on her family’s reality television series “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” A decade on, the show is still going strong and its youngest star is now the famous family’s highest earner.
It was discovered last week when Forbes magazine noted that Kylie is now worth almost three times as much as her sister at an estimated $900 million. Despite Kim’s eclipsing fame, it seems that Kylie is surpassing her in monetary gains. The magazine lauded her for heading towards becoming one of the youngest “self-made” billionaires ever. I’m sure her mom Kris had a little something to do with helping her launch her career.
Kylie Cosmetics is by far her biggest earner. It’s not sold in stores and does not advertise traditionally, because unlike other competitors it doesn’t seem to need it. It practically sells by itself, even as she sleeps. Truth be told, Kylie is a social media powerhouse. When she tweeted that she was “sooo over” Snapchat earlier this year, its shares tumbled. That’s how much of a social powerhouse she is. The vast majority of her 110 million-strong Instagram following are young and female, fitting firmly within the brand’s target market.
Her success can be viewed within the global beauty industry, which has undergone a huge shift as social media influencers and vloggers become more important to a brand’s success. Kylie launched her first set of own-brand lip kits 3 years ago. The product choice was not incidental, as the internet had spent much of the previous two years speculating on the teen’s noticeably larger lips, the infamous pout. At first, the reality star alleged the change was achieved using clever make-up tricks (over-lining the lips and filling in with a natural-looking matte base). Some mocked and sparked a viral, and painful, challenge to plump their own lips, however, beauty bloggers avidly recreated her look. The products she was rumored to use sold out at MAC outlets across the world.
This triggered “Momager” Kris and Kylie to go it alone, once she saw the opportunity. She spent months trailing an initial three-shade launch of lip-kits-a combination of nude lip liner and matte lip cream combos-on Instagram and Snapchat. The initial stock launch sold out in less than a minute, crashing the website. Bloggers offered suggestions of “dupe” options for those not lucky enough to have grabbed them, and the $29 sets were bootlegged online for hundreds of dollars. After launching the debut kits, she relabeled her business Kylie Cosmetics and sales continued to soar, making a reported $19 million on one day in late 2016. In just a few years, she has amassed a reported $630 million in sales, diversifying from lip kit duos to other products such as glosses, highlighters and eye-shadows.
Her brand has kept people hooked. Why? Naturally, people are hooked on the initial FOMO (fear of missing out) exclusivity-using countdowns to reveal products and selling them on limited release, often in collaboration with her famous siblings. While Kylie Cosmetics is not alone; a host of other brands such as Huda Beauty and Anastasia Beverly Hills have soared in popularity. Social media and the success of influencers has proved that personality sells, and partnering with real people, rather than traditional media, offers brand the opportunity to show more personality.
The Forbes cover profile points out that the overhead size of Kylie’s company is exceptionally small. It has only 12 employees, and only 7 are full-time. Most of the company’s operations and production needs are outsourced to specialist firms. Kylie’s self-driven success and huge profits haven’t been lost on sister Kim, who has followed suit by launching a new beauty line of her own and a range of new fragrances.
After a social-media-heavy marketing campaign that involved sending elaborately packaged perfumes to celebrities and influencers, Kim’s initial fragrance offering sold out rapidly, raking in $10 million before a single paying customer had even smelt the products. All it takes is a little perseverance and determination and of course, it takes money to make money.
Rose’s Scoop: The Kardashians had a blast exploring Italy. All you need is a little money and a trip to Capri, Rome and Portofino to really enjoy life.