When Forbes named Kylie Jenner the youngest “self-made billionaire” last year, the cover story was met with a collective groan. How, we asked, could a child of the billion-dollar Kardashian family be considered “self-made”? What we didn’t question, however, was the validity of her billionaire status. Last week, Forbes published a report entitled, “Inside Kylie Jenner’s Web Of Lies -- And Why She’s No Longer A Billionaire.”
In the article, Forbes claims that Jenner showed its reporters doctored records and tax returns in an effort to inflate her success and valuation. "The documents, despite looking authentic and bearing Kylie Jenner’s signature, weren’t exactly convincing since the story they told, of e-commerce brand Kylie Cosmetics growing from nothing to $300 million in sales in a single year, was hard to believe," Forbes writes.
Just yesterday, news broke of the incoming Kylie Cosmetics CEO exiting the company "for personal reasons" in April, weeks before Forbes’ investigation. In January, Jenner and beauty conglomerate Coty completed their $600 million transaction to create a long-term strategic partnership. The company named Christophe Honnefelder CEO of the Kylie Beauty brands, but Honnefelder never actually filled the role as CEO.
A cloud of doubt had been growing around Jenner not just within her operation, but also with her consumer base. Product ratings were eroding leading up to the big reveal last week. From January to March, the cumulative average review score for Kylie Skin products fell from 88.7% to 88.3%, the lowest it’s been since last Summer. It’s not a huge drop, but it’s trending downward nonetheless.
Customers were leaving reviews with the word “billionaire” before the Forbes piece was published, and unfavorable reviews at that. On March 18, “Tara S.” left a 60% rating on KylieSkin.com and wrote, “Could’ve been better quality for how much I paid. I mean she is a billionaire. Eek.”
In February, “Daisy” gave a 20% review: “Worst products. Cannot even return them and now I’m stuck having these worthless products...Waste of money. No wonder she is a billionaire she doesn’t even return a disappointed customer’s money.” A review from 2019 reads, “No wonder Kylie Jenner is a billionaire ripping people off.”
Facebook mentions of Kylie Cosmetics peaked on May 10 at 134,000 when the company held a Mother’s Day sale, but have since plummeted 78%. Mentions were as low as 19,500 over the last few months. Likes had been slowly increasing, but began to plateau in May.
Kylie Cosmetics’ follower count has been increasing on Instagram, arguably the birthplace of Jenner’s brand, but the growth rate is slowing. The month-over-month average change for Instagram followers hit 2.19% in May and quickly fell to 2.03%.
Kylie Cosmetics’ growth rate on Twitter ebbs and flows. While the follower count has consistently increased, the average month-over-month change hit a low in April at 0.18%. Interestingly, the month-over-month follower growth shot up to 1.74% after the Forbes piece was published
Kylie Jenner’s empire hasn’t fallen. One article won’t dethrone her, but it’s possible Forbes opened Pandora’s makeup bag of negative press and disappointed customer reviews.
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