Test Kitchen Theory: How You Can Learn From Kylie Jenner's Qualitative Research Experience


 You have to be living under a rock if you have not heard of Kylie Jenner. Being related to the Kardashian clan will light a fire inside of any entrepreneurial spirit. It’s an intelligent move for anyone participating in the reality TV phenomenon to use the platform to launch a product or service. Anyone that does not capitalize on this market is purely foolish. Kylie is no longer just a TV personality. She is an entrepreneur as well.

Lo and behold the topic of conversation: Kylie’s lips have turned into a lucrative cash cow. The cosmetics industry generates more than $62.46 billion dollars (Source: Statista.com) considering the US is the largest market of consumers. Kylie made a smart business decision using this industry with the platform she has. She took an insecurity of hers and turned it into a stream of income. Well-played Kylie. Well played. 

Here’s where it gets interesting. Most people covet the celebrities of social media. These Internet celebrities sell anything from t-shirts with their favorite slogan; detox tea, protein, teeth whiteners, and even books. Then there are the elite that venture over into retail and cosmetics. Gucci Mane’s girlfriend, Keyshia Kai’or; Love & Hip Hop Atlanta’s Rasheeda Frost; and now Keeping Up With the Kardashian’s Kylie Jenner’s lip kits. She’s joined many seeking to expand her brand. She secured a manufacturer, created a buzz, and began distribution of her lip kits to customers who preordered. Go Kylie! Selling out in 15 minutes is very admirable!

Customers were quick to rebut, “No, Kylie!” There were plenty of hiccups from shipping issues, empty boxes arriving to angry customers, used wands in secure packages, and a faulty wand to each customer. Sounds like a disaster right? Angry customers complained and completely dissed Kylie’s lip kit on all social medias platforms. Kylie ever so graciously addressed the matter and informed her fans and customers the wand would be new and improved...in the next batch! And this is where we discuss the test kitchen theory. 

If you’ve ever purchased a brand new iPhone, the latest version of Turbo Tax, or Kylie Jenner’s Lip Kit, you indeed paid to be a “lab rat” for the company. I’ll let you in on a little secret: everyone’s doing it! Small batches allow room for improvement without breaking the bank of the entrepreneur. Even though Kylie is a mega celebrity, she’s following the protocol of the greats: sticking to the budget. Small batches allow quick feedback; helps improve the product/service, and helps to avoid blowing the budget. Kylie was able to fix the wand issue by making it shorter and modified the formula for her lippies: next batch improved. 

Quality control is the process you’ve just experienced. If you’ve purchased Kylie’s lip kit, a new computer, or just about any product for that matter. The processes have been reconfigured, (hopefully the shipping issues are resolved); she’s gained knowledge for the next batch of lip kits. (No more long wands, eh Kylie?) Product inspection will occur with each lip gloss, matt3e lipstick and whatever new product her customer gives feedback on. All feedback is helpful whether positive or negative to the business. This negative feedback is actually more helpful than you think.

I understand that as a guinea pig, in many areas, it is not always a pleasant experience. Many customers including myself, spend their hard earned money on a product they expect to be perfect from the beginning. And in this phase of entrepreneurship everyone's doing qualitative research on the consumer directly. There's no way to get around it! Think of it as a test kitchen: You get to see what works and what doesn't. Sometimes the food is great. Sometimes the recipe needs tweaking. During this research and development process new products and services are developed. 

How can you apply this to your business?

1. Think like Kylie

 Think like Kylie: small batches are just right for an entrepreneur: especially when you are a bootstrapping business. It’s better to have a budget for three batches than to use all of your funding for one large and unsuccessful batch.

2. Make Mistakes

You will make mistakes: when it happens (and it will) apologize graciously and offer a new lip wand as the solution. You want to take care of your customer so they come back.

3. Listen to Your Customers

Listen to your customers: Buying power is a hell of an influencer. It doesn’t matter how fast you sell out if they never purchase your product again. And on the flip side of that coin: you can have a great product that your customers do not want. Moral of the story: open up your listening ear by analyzing your customer feedback. In fact, encourage it! 

4. Excellence Isn’t Always Expensive

Excellence doesn’t have to be expensive! I tell my kids all the time: “A half done job is a twice done job!” If you don’t get it right on the first try (you won’t,) be prepared to do it another time, better than the time before. You will go through this process over and over and over again with each product rollout. Master your process now.

5. All Change Isn’t Always Bad

Don’t be afraid to charge what you’re worth. Even though we pay to give feedback from our experience with the latest version of QuickBooks, or any technology, they never offer a discount. So why should you offer discounts when others are doing the same thing and following a different protocol. Kylie charged her customers $29.00 USD, plus shipping, handling, and tax for a faulty lip kit. Her prices are comparative to her competitors: MAC and other luxury cosmetic brands. Take notes fellow entrepreneurs! How will you implement the test kitchen theory in your business? 


The CEO, published author, and  servant leader, Ask TPJ, is a millennial M.B.A. graduate in love with helping others fulfill their purpose by walking in the areas of business, leadership, writing, personal development, and project management . Specializes in non-profit organizations, operations, project management, business administration, organizational strategy, social media, and small businesses. She's also a mom to a starting lineup of 5 little A's affectionately known as "The A-Team!" She loves to cook and is an active member of The Junior League of Birmingham Michigan! 

Tips & Tricks to Win NaNoWriMo

Beyoncé’s Marketing Syllabus for Entrepreneurs: Lemonade

Beyoncé’s Marketing Syllabus for Entrepreneurs: Lemonade