If you want to keep up with the Kardashians, there's more to it than obsessively watching E!. Per a piece by Alice Hines on TheOutline.com, you have to embrace the clan's entire empire, which is "bigger and weirder than you think." It encompasses a staggering 216 trademark applications, as well as companies and licensing deals for a wide range of products, including "cosmetics, clothing, financial products, food, beverages, downloadable emojis" and more. ("Kimsaprincess, Inc.," for example, has "trademarked more types of bags than I knew existed," Hines marvels). Even more fascinating to Hines is trying to figure out why some of the family's enterprises tank and some "succeed wildly," as well as how much money they make—Hines notes that due to often complex setups, "details are near impossible to find and usually emerge only when something goes wrong and contracts make it into court records."
In the end, almost everything the family hawks reverses the typical business model: "Products and businesses are advertisements for people rather than the other way around." The undercurrent running below each sale appears to be that by buying the product, the consumer inches that much closer to being in the Kardashians' world. The family's most lucrative brand extension is the "Kim Kardashian Hollywood" app, a cartoon game that raked in nearly $80 million in 2015, and Hines notes how the low-maintenance app's occasional notifications are designed to serve not only as a nudge to check on the game, but also as a "gentle reminder that Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, Kendall, Kylie, Rob, and Kris are there, always and forever, in a million tiny little ways. Waiting for you to just spend a little money on them." Check out Hines' attempt to explain this somewhat mind-boggling domain. (Read more Longform stories.)