Two years after acquiring majority stakes in Kylie Jenner’s beauty businesses for $600 million, Coty Inc. is making its moves to expand the brands.
On July 15, Kylie Cosmetics will debut its revamped products — which are now vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, paraben-free, and free of 1,600 other ingredients thought to be potentially harmful — alongside Jenner’s skin care brand, Kylie Skin, on a centralized website for the first time. The same website will launch in international markets such as the U.K., France and Germany.
Globally, the brand is also partnering with Ulta Beauty and Nordstrom in the U.S., Douglas in Europe, Boots, Harrods and Selfridges in the U.K., Nocibé in France, Gold Apple in Russia and Mecca in Australia.
“Kylie started as a digitally native d-to-c brand, but it’s become more of an omnichannel brand,” said Andrew Stanleick, executive vice president, Americas of Coty Inc. and recently appointed chief executive officer of Jenner’s beauty businesses. “As we expand into new markets, it’s about really giving consumers the ability to access Kylie’s products through every avenue they want.”
Stanleick said that bringing an omnichannel approach to key international markets was the next phase for his strategic vision for the brands. European markets, he added, are just the beginning.
“[Her resonance] is very strong,” Stanleick said. “We’ve seen that in preparation for the relaunch and a lot of the partnerships that Kylie herself has been doing with retail partners. Kylie has a strong following globally in many key markets, and we’ve already launched Australia, where we have a strong business. There are many more markets where Kylie has a big following where we haven’t launched yet.”
Stanleick didn’t comment on specific revenue projections for the brand, but said that “expectations are extremely high.” True to form, Jenner is reintroducing the line by hosting a live shopping event on the brand’s website minutes after the new website launches.
Reactions to the relaunch were a testament to engagement from Jenner’s robust social media following. Jenner boasts 248 million followers on Instagram alone, and her post announcing the brand’s relaunch garnered just shy of 5.4 million likes.
“As we look to relaunch, we know her fans are excited, and the brand has added 1 million followers since June,” Stanleick said.
Despite the brand’s colossal engagement, Stanleick joined Kylie Cosmetics at a pivotal time for the brand, which he said has seen a “strong uplift in consumption” following the pandemic-induced headwinds in the makeup category.
“All categories, but especially in the makeup category globally, have clearly suffered because of fewer occasions of use,” he said. “What we see coming out of that is the desire to put your best face on and invest again in makeup.”
He took the helm of the business following last year’s lawsuit filed by Seed Beauty, then-manufacturer for KKW Beauty, to block the brand from leaking trade secrets to Coty in 2020. Stanleick dispelled rumors that litigation had spurred the reformulations.
“The Seed lawsuit is resolved. The relaunch had absolutely nothing to do with it. It was always our intention to develop a new range of cosmetics and skin care. The suggestion that the cosmetics businesses were compelled to relaunch due to some form of injunction or litigation is false,” Stanleick said.
A spokesperson for Coty declined to elaborate further.
Seed Beauty did not respond to WWD’s request for comment by press time.
Jenner’s brand relaunch was not the only one in the family to spark speculation. On Instagram, Kim Kardashian West announced that she would also be rebranding her beauty brand, which consumers theorized was due to her filing for divorce from husband Kanye West earlier this year.
“Kim is still Kim Kardashian West and has not changed her legal name,” a source close to the family told WWD at the time. “The rebrand has been in the works for some time. Kanye actually helped Kim come up with the new name and the packaging.”
Stanleick didn’t comment on the new branding, but did say that Coty is “working very closely with Kim on the launch of her new skin care, which we’ve already announced publicly will be launched in 2022.”
Repositioning beauty brands as “clean” has been a winning strategy for Stanleick in the past. Prior to his time working on Jenner’s businesses, he was engineering the turnaround of Cover Girl, one of the 41 troubled mass-market beauty brands Coty bought from P&G in 2016. On Coty’s last earnings call, Sue Nabi, CEO of Coty, said Cover Girl was gaining market share again for the first time in four years.
“Kylie’s consumers are looking for the very best looks, but they want it to be clean, vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, etc.,” Stanleick said. “That’s exactly what Cover Girl has been winning on, and exactly why Kylie will win with this relaunch.”
Beyond European markets, Stanleick is eyeing new continents — and categories — for expansion. Although China remains a “key market,” Stanleick said it won’t be his top priority until strengthening preexisting geographies. “We’re evaluating where to distribute next. In the short term, we’re very much focused on getting our combined cosmetics and skin d-to-c sites launched before we expand to China,” he said.
In spite of the country’s drastically different social media landscape – including the blocking of Instagram, one of Jenner’s most important platforms — Stanleick said awareness of the brand remained high.
“We have proprietary research we have done, and she has significant awareness in China,” he said. “There’s clearly a demand in the market for Kylie’s skin care and cosmetic products there. But in the short term, we’re going to focus on existing markets.”
Stanleick added that the new d-to-c sites will also be integral to the brand’s drop-style approach, which Jenner pioneered. “It’s been hugely successful. We have a strong base business now with the lip kits, for example, which are a big part of the core business. We will complement that by bringing drops,” he said.
“The Advent calendar and the skin care fridges sold out in minutes. The most recent drop, the bath collection, sold out in one day and generated over $1 million in sales. The drop model is here to stay,” he continued.
Which categories those drops might include, though, Stanleick stayed mum on. “In the future, Coty may decide to add additional categories. That’s definitely a strategic option,” he said. “I will let Kylie tell you, when she’s ready, which categories we go to next.”
To that end, Jenner remains the creative engine behind the brand. “She leads every aspect in terms of product insight and development, and of course, marketing,” Stanleick said. “Kylie brings this creative insight, media phenomenon and big network of devoted followers. When you marry that with Coty’s ability to bring the distribution network and know-how across a range of categories, it creates a powerful network and delivers mutual value for both parties involved.”
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