Kim Kardashian West is a billionaire – and brilliant
The reaction was predictable. When Forbes announced yesterday that Kim Kardashian West was now officially a billionaire people immediately went in with the obvious jokes.
“Guess you don’t need talent to be a billionaire.”
“Showing your ass off is lucrative, apparently.”
“Maybe I should have married Kanye.”
And more. It’s really easy to be dismissive of someone who is primarily known for taking selfies and just kinda, sorta existing. Haters are going to hate and Kardashian West has her share of haters.
She also has a lot of fans, particularly young women who follow her on Instagram and hang on her fashion and beauty advice. They see her as dark skinned (she is half Armenian) and full figured, yet still considered a trend setter and beauty icon in a world that typically favours skinny girls with transparent complexions.
Those differences speak to them and throughout her rise to prominence Kardashian West has understood how to relate to that type of young women. So, don’t think this article is going to be a pile on that looks for more easy jokes about Kardashian West.
No, she’s brilliant. Seriously. What she and her sisters do should be taught in business schools. There are very few people that are as savvy to the ways of the 21st Century marketplace as the Kardashians, and Kardashian West is likely the smartest operator of them all.
Dismissing their and her success comes down to a combination of MBA grad jealousy and garden variety misogyny. I can’t help you with the latter, but if you think that “taking selfies” shouldn’t make you rich, you should probably take a closer look at the business choices that Kardashian West has made over the last 5-years that have more than doubled her net worth and pushed her into the billionaire club.
You also shouldn’t ignore the selfies bit either. Understanding how to create and foster a personal brand and then to profit significantly off it is something very, very few people are able to do. Yes, she had advantages that allowed her to start that process with a leg up, but lots of other had similar head starts.
Have you heard from Paris Hilton lately? Exactly.
But, back to her more conventional business choices. Kardashian West is the chief investor in two highly successful beauty and fashion brands. Her cosmetic line of KKW Beauty, which she owns 72% of and is valued at $500m USD, and the fashion brand Skims, where she has an undisclosed stake in that Forbes valued at $225m.
Those healthy valuations are based on robust sales. Through decisions that are very much influenced by Kardashian West – she’s hands on, by all accounts – the two companies have managed to grow during a tough pandemic period.
With KKW Beauty, Kardashian West smartly bypassed conventual marketing to instead leverage her Social Media presence. From there, she utilized a scarcity strategy to ensure that her products were always in high demand and would fetch luxury pricing. It’s an effective business strategy that is very much keeping in touch with the modern consumer.
Skims took a different approach, but one that was also tied into the zeitgeist of the times. Inclusivity dominates the messaging – and speaks to the target audience. At launch, Kardashian West ensured that there would be wide sizing options (they offered XXS to 4XL) and nine different options for nude shades. These are simple touches that should be common with other fashion brands, but aren’t. They are either not thought of, or outright resisted out of fear that it would hurt the image of the brand.
Kardashian West understood that there was an underserved demand for it though and did what any smart businessperson would do – filled it.
And, that’s what she is. A smart businessperson who, in so far as anyone deserves that much money, is an absolutely worthy addition to the billionaires’ club.