Love her or hate her Kylie Jenner has been able to achieve what few have been able to. She has created a beauty business that is expected to generate $1 billion in lifetime sales by 2022, only seven years after launching. By contrast it took Bobbi Brown 25 years to generate $1 billion in sales. While Jenner’s success at first glance may seem like luck or only the result of being part of a famous family there is more to it than the meets the eye. Not all children born into successful families have been able to do what she has achieved in such a short time. A combination of a strong product-market fit, great timing, focus and scarcity have contributed to her breakaway success.
Strong product-market fit
A strong product-market fit is heralded as the key to success within any industry. Would you like to have fuller lips? Sounds like a first world problem but it is an insecurity that many women have including Kylie Jenner. Preceding the launch of her own makeup line Jenner created her own lip kits often using M.A.C. lipstick and lip liner to make her lips look fuller. She also got temporary lip fillers. With millions of young women entering the “Kylie Jenner lip challenge” where women also tried to create their own fuller lips, she clearly was on to something. She took an insecurity, which is the impetus for many great products and turned it into a new product market. She also knew even before she launched that there was a strong market for her own product due to the media attention and the sheer number of women trying to emulate her look.
The Kardashians are great at capitalizing on not only their successes but on their perceived failures. Eight months after Jenner admitted to using temporary lip fillers to make her lips fuller she launched $29 Kylie Lip Kits. She had a captive audience for her product from customers who wanted to have a similar look to hers without having to use fillers themselves. The Kylie Jenner lip challenge which also started before her launch only added to the publicity and her growing status as a beauty influencer. Looking backwards the sequence of events leading up to the launch of her of her own brand seem as though they could not be more perfectly timed. There was massive hype and demand for her products even before her own lip kits were a reality.
With a wealth of resources Jenner could have started her business by launching a full makeup and skin care line. Instead Jenner started by launching one product lip kits. This allowed her to focus on getting the operations of her business right before expanding. It also allowed her to focus on a gap in the market and become known within a niche in the beauty space.
Instead of doing everything in-house Jenner also decided to outsource several key business functions. Manufacturing and packaging are outsourced to Seed Beauty. Sales and fulfillment are handled by Shopify. This allows her to focus on her core competency of product creation and marketing. Jenner is the CEO as well as the Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Creative Officer of Kylie Cosmetics. In total she only has seven full-time employees which is impressive given the size of her business.
The decision to focus is not always an easy one. Focus requires discipline and getting over the fear of missing out (FOMO). Apple often credits its success to its ability to focus on a small number of products. Steve Jobs once said: “deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do that’s true for companies and it's true for products”.
Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a powerful force. Kylie dropped only a limited quantity of lip kits when she launched her business and they sold out in less than a minute. Instead of creating disappointed customers, customers became even more anxious to buy her products. That strategy also increased the perceived value of her product line. Could there be any better social proof than a product customers want to buy but is sold out for months? Then the ensuing social media frenzy as people discuss their desire to get her products over and over keeps demand going long after the sellout. Now that form of marketing is priceless.
This business will be one to watch over time.
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