"OG Influencer" Paris Hilton: "How I work with manufacturers now"
In an exclusive email interview prior to her appearances at IAB Brand Disruption and Adweek Women Trailblazers Summit, Paris Hilton discussed the start of reality TV to found Paris Hilton Entertainment, an integrated media and product organization with 19 products generating sales of have made over $ 4 billion in the last decade.
Adweek: How do you define “brand disruption”?
Paris Hilton: I think about branding disruption in many ways. One of them is when a brand has earned enough trust to change consumer expectations. Lyft is a good example. By pressing a button on our phone, we know that a car is helping us get where we want to go.
Speaking at an IAB summit seems atypical for you. How do you explain your appearance at the event?
The IAB keynote is with my partner Carter Reum, who is both a great friend and co-founder of venture firm M13. We joke that we both spend all day researching consumer behavior. We're talking about how it's changed because of Covid-19 and that the changes will lead to more innovation in the next two or three years than in the last 20 years. This is the other kind of brand disruption: brands that are able to face changing trends.
Can you give us an example of a disruptive brand or how to present yourself to the public?
One new device that I love is the Opte. It is a digital scanner for your skin. Companies like this are a great example of changing consumer expectations. For example, why would anyone want to buy a messy bottle of creams when we can get a bespoke skin care product thanks to a simple piece of high tech? Opte is part of M13's launchpad, which enabled them to get to consumers quickly and directly online. I have and appreciate this direct relationship with consumers more than ever.
Are you planning similar product launches?
I'm building an integrated media and product company. On the product side, I focus on health and wellness, longevity and beauty. I share my friend's passion for investing in consumer technology and will continue to invest in the next generation of great entrepreneurs like Rachel at Daily Harvest, where I am an investor.
How will the Covid-19 pandemic change your product offering / marketing plans?
In these uncertain times, I am very concerned for the health and safety of everyone. Carter and I think a lot about how consumer behavior will affect the new normal. Which products, companies and ways of interacting with products do people need? Where do consumers go and who do they trust for social, information and entertainment purposes? I'm interested in that and I've seen creative innovations in live shopping.
They are widely considered to be the original influencer, dating back to the early days of social media. What is different for you now than then?
When social media first started I realized the power we all had to create our own stories and take control of our images and narration in ways that weren't possible. In my documentary THIS IS PARIS, I mentioned that I was a walking billboard around the clock. Back then we only had to worry about the paparazzi.
How did this early experience with social influencers shape your business philosophy?
I use my gut and instincts to make both business decisions and investments. I was able to build my business with these instincts and think two steps ahead. Being true to myself has helped me grow as a person and as a business leader, and I look forward to growing further. I use the same instincts to invest in the next generation of great founders as I love the idea of driving them forward and supporting them.