Coty Inc. has agreed to pay $600 million for a majority stake in Kylie Jenner’s high-flying cosmetics startup, betting that the billionaire celebrity’s appeal to a younger demographic can help revive its beauty business.
Coty’s acquisition of 51% of Kylie Cosmetics gives it access to two of the fastest-growing and most-engaged beauty brands on social media as it seeks to regroup after a failed attempt to remake the CoverGirl brand using social-media influencers.
Jenner, one of the five Kardashian-Jenner sisters made famous by reality TV, launched her namesake cosmetics line in November 2015. According to Coty, it realized an estimated $177 million in net revenues over the past 12 months.
Coty noted that Jenner has more than 270 million followers across her personal and brand social media channels. “Combining Kylie’s creative vision and unparalleled consumer interest with Coty’s expertise and leadership in prestige beauty products is an exciting next step in our transformation,” CEO Pierre Laubies said in a news release.
The Wall Street Journal said Coty is betting Kylie can revive a beauty business that has been floundering since it acquired dozens of brands from Procter & Gamble in 2016.
Traditional beauty companies have been threatened by the rise of Kylie, Glossier, and other upstart brands that, the WSJ said, “have used social media to challenge the playbook of industry stalwarts: selling products in drugstores and at department stores’ beauty counters.”
Independent makeup brands’ sales grew 24% in 2017, compared with the market average of 5.9%, according to research firm Kline & Co.
Kylie Cosmetics is known for nude lip liners and lipsticks and its products are now being distributed through Ulta Beauty’s network of more than 1,100 stores. The partnership with Coty “will allow me and my team to stay focused on the creation and development of each product while building the brand into an international beauty powerhouse,” Jenner said.
Citigroup analyst Wendy Nicholson warned, however, that “the biggest risk to this acquisition is that Kylie loses interest in the beauty business, or that her social media presence and/or popularity fades.”
Rick Kern/Getty Images for Ulta Beauty