Latest Update: Kylie Cosmetics has come out on top after all of the following mishaps—and now Coty owns a majority stake in the company.
Read on--for a lesson in how the social media pro and her manufacturing partners helped fuel the buzz about the brand, and continued to gain new fans with each new challenge.
Kylie Lip Kits have been making headlines on beauty blogs just about every week since they launched at the end of 2015—and established Kylie Cosmetics by Kylie Jenner, which debuted in January 2016.
Jenner's massive number of social media followers, as well as her App users, watch her every move—and copy her every look.
Seed Beauty, which owns Spatz Labs, is in charge of product development, manufacturing and fulfillment for Kylie Cosmetics. Seed Beauty also owns ColourPop.
Like Kylie Cosmetics, social media has been key to ColourPop’s success, and the brand is sold exclusively on its website.
A 'Stolen' Logo?Beauty bloggers frequently post news about Kylie Cosmetics’ new lip colors, while also covering the drama that surrounds each new controversy—and the latest drama is about Kylie's packaging.
There were accusations of a stolen logo design, followed by applicators that didn’t work, and customers who filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau after receiving empty boxes in the mail.
The negative press, however, hasn’t hurt the brand’s reputation. Jenner appears to personally reach out to fans on social media through comments, tweets, and SnapChat videos. Kylie Cosmetics quickly wins back the support of every dissatisfied customer — and there have been many.
Read on for more about the controversies.
Click through the slider above for the following photos:
Photo Credits: Kylie's Kits: Instagram/@kyliecosmetics; Logo: gold lips (L): Vlada Haggerty, Instagram/@vladamua; Fan's Tattoo: Instagram/@itsjohnnycyrus / Frayed Applicators: Twitter/@JeffreeStar; 'Rugrat': Twitter, Mallory Colon/@yoMallory; Leaky Bottle: Bianca Ramos, Twitter/ @BiancaRamos; Bad brush: Leila, Twitter/@DamnYouCute__; New Wand vs. Old: SnapChat/King Kylie; Old Box vs. New Box, which is now decorated on the inside of the lid: Instagram.
The ControversyThe Kylie Lip Kit is most known for its matte liquid lip color, which is paired with a matching pencil liner. It comes in 9 skin-flattering colors. In addition to the mattes, now there are two more lip color formats—Gloss and Metals.
Lip Kits are in white cartons, decorated with Kylie Cosmetics’ bold logo—a striking image of dripping color on lips.
One diehard Kylie fan loves the logo so much he tattooed it on his arm. (See this image in the slideshow above.)
Controversy over the logo design began when makeup artist Vlada Haggerty’s Instagram photo of golden-bronze “dripping lips” was mistaken for an image by Kylie Cosmetics. The brand apparently reposted it without crediting the makeup artist, so even bloggers at Harper’s Bazaar assumed it was created by, or for, the company.
Kylie Cosmetics has since removed the image from its Instagram. Even after crediting the makeup artist, it still wasn’t clear to fans that it wasn’t a variation of its logo since the style is so similar.
Kylie chose to stay out of this battle by not commenting, but Haggerty has become sort of a celebrity - her make-up artistry is featured on Refinery 29.
Update: Soon after, Smashbox partnered with Vlada, asking the MUA to co-create a collection—and this extravagant lip look that holds a Guiness World Record..
Changing the ApplicatorSoon after the news about the logo controversy, unhappy customers began posting complaints on Twitter about the lip color’s applicator wands. This time, Kylie did comment, and helped to resolve the issue quickly - but not until Jeffree Star got her attention.
Star is founder of the indie brand, Jeffree Star Cosmetics, and tweeted to his thousands of followers about the terrible applicator that didn’t work. One tweet said, “Is there no quality control??”
Other consumers showed photos as well, with one funny tweet showing how the separated brush hair at the tip of the wand reminded her of a character’s spiky hair from the Rugrats cartoon. (Take a look at some of these applicator photos in the slideshow above.)
We asked a few suppliers about how a brand could prevent issues like this from happening, and here’s what they said, in Beauty Packaging’s feature, Taking Applicators to the Next Level. (link)
Star kept tweeting, along with other furious customers - until Kylie Cosmetics finally paid attention. Kylie responded from her own Twitter account to apologize, which ended the “feud.”
The next day, Kylie posted a video on SnapChat (shown in the slideshow above) showing her new redesigned applicator wand, which has a shorter brush. She also announced that everyone who received the old brush would be receiving a new applicator in the mail, along with a new product. Star, and all of Kylie’s fans seemed happy about the outcome.
Redesigning the Box—After 92 BBB Complaints & CountingMore drama began in mid-May when furious consumers once again took to Twitter, posting photos of the empty box they received instead of their order. Not knowing that the product was apparently being stolen right out of the boxes either in transit or from their doorstep, the angriest customers filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau.
The BBB has received a total of 92 complaints as of today, and the number continues to rise. There is a “warning alert” posted on the BBB’s site about Kylie Cosmetics.
Part of it states: “Currently, the BBB is receiving multiple complaints from this company's customers claiming that after ordering and paying for products, some or all of the products are not being shipped as expected. The company's refund policy states, ‘We do not accept returns, exchanges or refunds. All sales are final.’ However the company will replace missing items.”
Kylie Cosmetics proposed a solution, and the BBB explains:
“When questioned by the BBB, company representatives have responded that they feel that because of their highly-recognizable packaging, packages are being opened and products removed. The company has informed BBB that they will soon be changing the labels on their packages.”
Soon after, Kylie Cosmetics debuted its new box design on Instagram, and all is well again. Take a look at the photos of the old and new boxes in the slideshow above. The highly recognizable paint drip design is now printed on the box’s lid, on the inside panel, instead of on the outside. The outside of the box is plain black. The new box is shown on the right.
A Limited Supply Creates DemandWhy are fans - and thieves - going to such great lengths to get their hands on a Lip Kit?
The company is keeping the products’ availability limited, and is brilliantly creating more demand.
There are “flash sales,” typically spaced one to two weeks apart, which Kylie Cosmetics calls “restocking.” Products often sell out in minutes, and nothing is available outside of these sale events. A black circle marked “Sold Out” is on every product on Kylie Cosmetics’ website.
News about upcoming “restocking sales,” which often includes the launch of new colors, is covered by numerous beauty blogs. Glamour’s Lipstick blog even has a page that is continually updated with the next sale dates and times as soon as they are announced.
Purchases are limited to three products per person during each sale, but that hasn’t discouraged savvy entrepreneurs from re-selling on eBay - taking advantage of Kylie’s fans with sky-high markups. Prices on eBay seem to have come down now from the initial frenzy when the Kylie Lip Kit first launched, since the sale events have become more frequent.
Kylie Isn't Losing Any FansSome of the issues that Kylie Cosmetics has faced were probably anticipated by the team at Seed Beauty - minus the low rating from the BBB. Since the company’s expertise lies in launching new products extremely quickly in limited numbers, its team plans to correct and address issues during the next production run.
It is not only a brilliant marketing strategy, but a sensible one from a manufacturing standpoint. Smaller runs enable the company to make any necessary changes, such as tweaking a formulation or redesigning a package.
This speed to market also allows a beauty brand to create new colors based on feedback from social media, giving consumers exactly what they want - at the moment they want them.
Responding to customers’ concerns and addressing issues quickly is what matters most these days. Kylie’s beauty fans have shown that they will forgive any mistake - as long as their concerns are acknowledged, immediately.
Kylie’s prowess as a social media pro is a major advantage.
Kylie Cosmetics will no doubt continue to win over forgiving fans - no matter what mishap makes headlines next week.