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What Kylie Jenner’s mobile retail launches can teach small business owners

Using the power of mobile storefronts to drive your business


TL;DR

  • Kick-off a new venture with a small launch to see if there’s a market

  • Mobile pop up shops are a stepping stone on the path to brick-and-mortar

  • Hype your launches through consistent branding and promo


Testing the waters with a soft launch

Picture it: Calabasas, 2015. Armed with nothing more than her family fame and 46 million Instagram followers, Kylie Jenner quietly launched her Kylie Lip Kits. She sold out her entire stock in 10 minutes to earn a quick and dirty $150k in product sales. Famous people brand and sell products all the time, but this was something special. Leading up to the Lip Kit launch, Kylie was under extreme scrutiny for her evolving look, with her lips bearing the brunt of the backlash. Conversations abound on if she had injections, was using plumpers, or just falling back on the old overlining trick. She stayed mum on how she achieved her look and instead dropped the most successful out-of-nowhere cosmetic side hustle, well, ever. Of course what she does with her lips is her business, but now what you can do with yours is literally her business.


From a female empowerment perspective, this was basically Marie Antoinette dropping a new line of frosting, but from a business standpoint? This was next level. Transforming controversy into commerce is a Jenner/Kardashian superpower, after all.


Discovering your offline audience

When it was time to make the jump from the screen to the streets, she used a line of mobile storefronts to create an IRL shopping experience. The trucks were custom branded and carried the full line of cosmetics—including the products you couldn’t get online. Devotees hunted them down and snatched up the entire stock. Confident in the proof that people wanted to shop her line offline, she popped up in a mall in LA with a temporary brick-and-mortar storefront. Creating a sense of urgency, the store was meant to remain open while supplies lasted. ​​It worked. More pop-ups followed all over the country with their infamously long lines and Instagrammable moments.


As we all know, her brand is worth north of $1 billion and she’s doing amazing, sweetie.


Testing the waters of mobile retail

Kylie Jenner launched her swim line, Kylie Swim, this week. Part of that launch included a branded mobile retail unit visiting every influencer in LA and dropping off bikinis. Again, people deliver products all the time, but this was definitely something special. By visiting each influencer at home it created a guaranteed photo op to share with their millions of followers. And in turn, the followers now know that when they see the bright orange truck parked at the mall, they’ll find bikinis inside.


What's poppin'

I am confident that we’ll see a fleet of Kylie Swim trucks up and down the beach this spring and summer. Taking your brand directly to your customers is the future of retail, and mobile storefronts make that possible. Temporary stores can be a great stepping stone for online-only shops interested in expanding to brick-and-mortar. When surveyed, more than 80% of global retail companies (like Amazon and Macys) that have opened a pop-up store said it was successful, and more than half are likely to do it again.


The best part is that pop-ups also don't have to be expensive, making it a more viable strategy. Building out your own mobile retail storefront starts at $15,000 (plus the cost of the vehicle) and renting an already furnished truck from Hustle Trucks starts at just $100 per day.


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