Kylie Leveraged Her Best Assets to Become a Billionaire. Are you?
By now, you have doubtless seen the Forbes cover with Kylie Jenner, who is set to become one of the youngest billionaires of all time. There is a lot of debate as to whether she is “self-made” as she it titled by Forbes. There’s a good reason for that, considering she had enormous advantages of belonging to the most famous family in America and starring in two reality shows with the Kardashian Krew. This article isn’t about that debate however, it’s about how she leveraged her fame into a billion dollar business, something very few celebrities manage to do.
First, let’s start with where she started, social media. Kylie was an early adopter on both Instagram and SnapChat. Doubtless because of her utter inability to avoid the spotlight anyway, Kylie took the approach of being totally open with her fans on both networks. Your typical celebrity profile is full of professional promo/red carpet shots and a few impossibly glamorous videos from the gym or vacation. Kylie’s was less curated from the start. Ironically, the makeup mogul was posting plenty of makeup-free shots and tutorials where she started with a bare face. She also posted videos others might consider embarrassing, overly private or even mundane. No moment was too small for her fans though, who not only ate up every moment but also reposted the most interesting snaps on fan profiles so others could get a taste of what they were missing.
Second, right before Kylie launched her lip kits, she started to update her look. The makeup market is crowded and funnels billions of dollars to influencers. hoping that their followers will try to mimic their look. Kylie’s signature fast became exaggerated overdrawn lips with matte beige, brown or light pink lipstick applied in a thick layer. It’s hard to tell whether she created the trend or was just an early adopter for the look of the moment, but regardless she became known for it because she stayed on brand. Compared to her early days, you’d hardly catch her without a signature lip before the launch.
Third is, of course, the hype. The cosmetics market is crowded. Her initial product, lipstick paired with lip liner, were not unique or innovative. Her products couldn’t be credited for actually making lips larger or more full, since around the same time it came out that Kylie was regularly getting lip fillers. The color range of the lip kits was also not totally unique at the time. Many brands, even drug store brands, were offering similar colors in a matter formula for a much cheaper price. Further, many (perhaps even Most?) makeup lines launch with a celebrity “face” to represent the product (Katy Perry for Covergirl mascara, Zoe Kravitz for YSL, Elle Fanning for L’Oreal Paris, etc.). The only difference was Kylie. Not only did she have a higher raw number of followers, but her followers were personally invested in every step of the launch. She was constantly wearing the product, not just for a few commercials and red carpet appearances. She was also constantly showing the branding on her page, which is crucial since it’s not easy to tell the brand of lipstick someone is wearing from a photo. Of course, the limited run and constant exposure on YouTube (both positive and negative) did nothing but help the second run sell out almost as fast as the first.
So what can your business learn from Kylie? You don’t need to have millions of followers to be a success. Kylie’s biggest strength is that she constantly used her biggest and best tool. In her case, it didn’t take a lot of research to figure out what that was. For most businesses, you may have to do a little digging and reorganizing to uncover what you can leverage to grow.
Remember, we can learn from Kylie’s example that your main strength may not even be your product. Of course, you should try to have a good quality offering no matter what you do, but it might not be unique or innovative. When we are doing analysis for clients, we look for all kinds of strengths. A dedicated workforce with litter turnover, a few product offerings that make the most profit and how to position those forward among offerings, high performing marketing channels (including social media!), a nimble business model and more are all assets worth looking into. When you find the strongest one, drive your employees to focus on it in everything they do. You may want to dedicate a few teams to shoring up your second and third best assets to avoid putting all your eggs in one basket.
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