Why Are the Kardashians So Successful? 6 Strategies That Built an Empire

  • Nov 27, 2019 AEDT
  • Team Kalkine
Why Are the Kardashians So Successful? 6 Strategies That Built an Empire

Kylie Jenner made headlines in the recent past, when Forbes awarded her the title of “the world’s youngest self-made billionaire” at 21 years. Though she is undoubtedly the richest member of the Kardashian-Jenner clan, through the success of her cosmetics line - Kylie Cosmetics, many have questioned whether the youngest daughter of one of the world’s most influential families could possibly deserve the title “self-made.” It’s an empire that began with reality TV show “Keeping Up with The Kardashians” which first aired when Kylie was only 9 years old.

Kylie Jenner owes her success to the fame and fortune of her family, which is beyond doubt, but how was this dynasty built in the first place? Also, more importantly, how has it been maintained for over a decade, which is beyond the shelf life of most of the reality stars? Perhaps, like the show that made them all famous, the Kardashians’ business decisions are a lot more planned, and a lot less spontaneous, than they appear to be. 

How to Rule the World: Kardashian Edition
  1. Marry well. Kris got her start in the entertainment industry through a couple of well-connected partners. First was Robert Kardashian, the entertainment lawyer famous for being on OJ Simpson’s defence team in his infamous murder trial. Kris was able to make a lot of high-profile connections through her husband’s famous friends and clients. Her next spouse, Caitlyn Jenner, was an American Olympian, who had a career as a public figure speaking about her Olympic success, which was managed by Kris, which is when she started flexing her business acumen.
  1. Start a business. In 2006, Kim, Kourtney and Khloe opened a retail store in California called DASH. The business wasn’t a huge success, but it raised their profile in the community, as did having Kim’s famous friends like Paris Hilton come to visit the store. Since DASH, the Kardashian-Jenners have owned over a dozen of other business ventures between them, which have grown their combined worth to $1.6 billion dollars, the amount of money, a reality television salary could have never provided to them.
  1. Be interesting. Kris pitched a reality show about the girls’ business to E! network, but it was the overall family dynamic, and the promise of absolute honesty and vulnerability that gave Ryan Seacrest the idea for Keeping up With the Kardashians. It also probably helped that they were a family full of very attractive women.
  1. Capitalising on new technology. For the Kardashians, this was Instagram. The Kardashians have not been shy about letting the public into their personal lives through the camera lens, and then through social media. They have a combined online following of more than half a billion people, with whom they have shared births, divorces, losses and triumphs. The carefully curated image of openness and honesty gives the sisters an unprecedented connection with their fans, who feel as if they personally know them. These ‘real’ personas and the wide online reach of social media provides an ideal platform for selling products. If you trust the seller is truthful, you’re more likely to buy her product. Not to mention it’s free!
  1. As the adage goes - any kind of publicity is good publicity. Kim Kardashian launched her career with a sex tape, right out of pal Paris Hilton’s playbook. Since then, the Kardashians have not gotten any less audacious with the kind of publicity they will pursue. The family’s profiles have been raised by scandal after scandal; celebrity feuds, a 72-hour marriage, the infamous Pepsi commercial, Kim’s bare derriere, diarrhoea tea. What the Kardashians saw early on in the adoption of social media - is that reach is everything. And every story can be used to sell more lipsticks.
  1. Recognising the potential for ‘influence.’ It seems hard to remember a time before we were discussing influencers on a regular basis, but it is really a very new term, to describe an almost-as-new business model. Individuals now create content to amass audiences online, which then allows them to market products directly through their personal account. The Kardashians were so early to adopt this method of revenue raising that they were doing this before it was legislated, before you had to declare that you were being paid for advertising a product on Instagram. They had spent years cultivating a cult of personality, leaving them perfectly primed to sell beauty products to young women on a platform on which appearance is king (or in this instance, queen). The ethics of many of these products have been questioned as high, as the FDA. Did this hurt their bottom line? See strategy number 5.

Love them or hate them, it is clear that there is a lot of intelligent design behind the Kardashian’s success. Though some may have valid questions about the sustainability of such a business model, it appears to be working very well for now.


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