Happy Birthday, Kim Kardashian

(Bloomberg Gadfly) -- Happy Birthday, ma'am. Kim Kardashian turns 36 today.

She may be taking a break, but the influence of the reality television star and her family on the way consumers spend money hasn't gone away.

How the Kardashian family post pictures on Instagram, work out at the gym and even dress their children all affect the way we shop.

Think of them as proxy for the way we spend money. If you want to see the future of the consumer industry, you need to keep up with the Kardashians -- whether you like them or not.

Here's your rough guide.


The Kardashians take selfies -- all the time. And so do we, now. That's affecting everything from the makeup we buy, the clothes we wear and even demand for cosmetic surgery.

Wanting to look good in selfies, or take a shot in a cool location, have helped fuel a boom in consumer spending on experiences.

Happy Birthday, Kim Kardashian

At the top end of the market, that can mean a nip and tuck instead of a new Chanel handbag. In the mid-market, it translates into spending on a photogenic meal rather than a new top from Gap or Hennes & Mauritz.

In fact, demand for luxury cars and experiences, such as hotel stays, cruises and meals, is growing, according to research by Bain and Italian luxury association Altagamma. By contrast, sales of traditional status products -- things like as watches and designer clothes -- are falling.

Happy Birthday, Kim Kardashian


Kim Kardashian brought us contouring, and the trend for using different color foundations to accentuate the face’s natural curves has helped fuel a boom in cosmetics sales.

Happy Birthday, Kim Kardashian

The Kardashian sisters have created their own beauty line, as has half-sister Kylie Jenner. But the make-up boom is also benefiting the global giants such as Estee Lauder -- which has model and half-sister Kendall Jenner as one of its celebrity faces -- and L’Oreal. In fact, the sisters have helped drive a whole wave of interest in beauty, from plumping lipsticks to eyebrow kits.

But this trend may reverse in coming years. Kim Kardashian herself has favored a more natural look recently, and the rate of sales growth is estimated to slow.


The Kardashians like to look good working out -- and so do we, now. In fact, the habit of wearing sports clothes outside the gym has created a whole new category of apparel: athleisure.

Lululemon and Gap, as well as traditional sportswear companies like Nike, Under Armour and even Adidas, have had to shape up, adding stylish trainers and leggings that look as good in the office as in the yoga class. Sales of denim have suffered, even if Khloe Kardashian has been trying to sell Good American jeans.

Happy Birthday, Kim Kardashian

Main street retailers are now joining the gym. Inditex, through its Oysho brand, is expanding in this market, as is Hennes & Mauritz. But cut-price names such as Primark, Wal-Mart and Target are catching on and forcing prices down

Older Shoppers

Kris Jenner (Momager) is almost 61, and she still likes to look good. Older shoppers are still interested in fashion and beauty, and many have the money to spend on them.

Happy Birthday, Kim Kardashian

Trouble is most retailers aren't effectively catering to this demographic -- yet.

Even when they do, they don't always get it right. N Brown, the British retailer that targets older and larger shoppers, has struggled to shift its business from printed catalogs to online. Sales and profit at Chicos, long seen as catering to older professional women, have stagnated amid stalled talks to sell the company.

There's a big opportunity here for a retailer to grab a slice of the stylish senior market.


North West, the daughter of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West has prompted outfit envy with her custom-made Balmain ensembles.

She's also inspired the label to launch a childrenswear range. It isn't alone. Designers from Tom Ford to Karl Lagerfeld have also produced kids' collections.

Designer childrenswear accounts for less than 3 percent of sales at most luxury brands, says Bloomberg Intelligence's Deborah Aitken. Yet the category is growing at a faster rate than both the luxury market and the adult apparel sector. Demand is being driven by increased brand awareness (thanks to those celebrity endorsements) and a growing number of older and more affluent parents, according to Aitken.

Happy Birthday, Kim Kardashian

So what next? Bruce Jenner’s transformation to Caitlyn has put issues around gender and fashion on the map. Inditex’s Zara and London department store Selfridges have introduced gender-neutral collections.

Expect others to follow as the extended Kardashian family continues to weave its way into our lives -- and our shopping habits.

--With assistance from Gadfly's Shelly Banjo.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the authors of this story: Andrea Felsted in London at afelsted@bloomberg.net, Elaine He in London at ehe36@bloomberg.net.