The Kardashian effect

In 2007, the first episode of “Keeping up with the Kardashians” aired on the cable network, E!. It was a reality show about a suburban American family doing life and it quickly became one of the most talked about shows around the country. Reality television like this one coined the term “famous for being famous” and ushered in a new category of ‘celebrity’ to the world (yah, another category).




Some 8 years later, the show is about to embark on its 10th season and though its viewership remains strong, it is the brand that exists outside of their weekly time slot and it’s meteoric rise that holds the most value.

At the centre of the Kardashian/Jenner brand are the girls, Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, Kendall and Kylie. Last month, all released individual apps to the App store in an unveiling press conference (with the exception of Kourtney, whose app will release later in the year).

Both the Apple and Google app stores are littered with highly downloaded apps not making money but the girls have reached almost 1 million subscribers paying $2.99 per month in the short time its been live. This will stand to make them $30 – $40 million in year 1.





What do the apps do?

Each app is tailored to the individual sister and aims to provide fans a more in depth view of the worlds and lives of each sister. They’ll contain personal diaries; live streaming video, tutorials and personal tips alongside behind the scenes access to events they attend. For the fan, it’s their chance to see even more and they seem to be eating it up. Kylie, the youngest and 18 years old has taken the #1 download spot on the App Store.



“We want to hear from fans, but we want to start changing the way of social media and have it be from all positives,” Khloe said at the press release.

With Kim’s game app “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” earning $74 million last year (yep, not a typo), it makes sense for them to look into apps but beyond just the money, there are a number of things we can learn from this story. Here are my thoughts:



What can we learn?

1. Find avenues to connect with the people who want to hear your message

I think we can all assume these apps are going to be very successful but why? Is it that Apps are the latest tech fad and the girls are jumping on it? I don’t think that’s the reason. Their apps will create a new distribution channel for the girls to talk directly with the fans and create an exclusive (but not cost prohibitive) environment just for that relationship.



2. Share your world & voice

Even in a world where social puts our lives on show, people long to see more and hear what you think. Social channels like Instagram and Facebook have created a ‘curated’ version of our lives and whilst we are given some view, we never really get the whole picture. The opportunity to find out more and in ways that promise to be authentic, real and raw is enticing for the app store browser.



3. Bring it into one place

For me, the genius was in separating the apps. The first thought may very well have been to create one app to rule them all but each of the sisters has a unique and identifiable style and brand and for that reason, their fan bases will contain some uniquely identifiable features to them also. The fans no doubt watch the show but long for more information on the character they connect with the most. The app gives the fans the opportunity to access more on the life of their favourite character without the noise of the others in an intimate way. All in one place. Genius!



4. The strength of a family brand

It’s a fascinating case study because of the symbiotic nature between the show and the individual brands. The family unit as a brand amplifies the power of each of the individuals and those individual brands also amplify the power of the family brand. Keeping the family together is the only way this will continue to work though because the family unit is what makes each of them so relatable.

They may each be famous but you watch the show and are reminded of the fact that they are still a daughter, a sister and a friend. The show reminds us of this in a format of family life. We relate to them and connect with them more for it.



Closing thought

Whatever your opinion may have of the Kardashians, you can’t deny the impressive empire they are building. They have done well to identify business opportunities amidst the fame that is surrounding them and for this reason the value of their band continues to grow.