Kylie Cosmetics’ shift to Ulta and the online-only growth ceiling

There’s no mystery as to why Ulta wants to sell Kylie’s products. She created one of the fastest growing beauty brands with very wide appeal and exposure, and her products sit at an accessible price point, aligning with Ulta’s audience. The deal…


PrimeTime: Amazon launched Amazon Advertising, plans to open Amazon Go in New York; J.Crew will sell J.Crew Mercantile on Amazon, Amazon’s smaller vendors are beginning to divert products to other ecommerce platforms

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon launched Amazon Advertising, replacing Amazon Marketing Services, though the products and services offered remain the same. The rebrand emerges at a time when Amazon’s advertising business is…


The Grinds: Starbucks attempts to win over Italy, Ritual fails to live up to transparency claims, Mattel launches film division, Instagram may launch a separate shopping app

Starbucks attempts to win over Italy, opening a roastery in Milan. What happened Thirty-five years ago—long before becoming Starbucks’ CEO—Howard Schultz, then a marketing director for the brand, visited Milan and returned transfixed by the idea…


“The product speaks for itself”

The idea of a product speaking for itself—and The Row following this creed—falls apart upon closer inspection. The purest form of letting “clothes speak for themselves” would be to just put the clothes on a rack on the street in Soho and let them…


The Grinds: FAO Schwarz makes a comeback, Hims takes on Hers, Zalando builds a brand with a music festival, Tiffany & Co. banks on flagship

FAO Schwarz will make its comeback in Rockefeller Center as toy retailers scrape up Toys R Us’ debris. What happened FAO Schwarz closed its Manhattan flagship back in 2015. This November, it’s returning with a 20,000 square foot location in…


Untangling the complexities of Farfetch’s business

This week Farfetch, the luxury platform that connects customers, brands and retailers around the world, filed its initial form to go public. The company is one of the few fashion/luxury technology companies to reach a large scale—second only to…


PrimeTime: Amazon plans to launch TiVo competitor, offer music streaming via Alexa, make voice shopping easier, debuted its first vans for its Delivery Service Program, may acquire Landmark Theaters

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon has plans to create a TiVo competitor, which will record live streamed video that can be played on smartphones. The device will connect to Amazon’s Fire TVs and would store video locally. At…


The Grinds: Escape rooms blossom, PepsiCo acquires SodaStream, “Game of Thrones” fans take Croatia, Taubman Centers invests in mall of the future

Escape rooms blossom, but need to evolve beyond a fad to stay alive. What happened Escape rooms—curated sets where visitors are trapped and must solve puzzles to chart their “escape”—grew from about 24 locations in the U.S. in 2014 to more than…


PrimeTime: Prime members gain curbside Whole Foods pickup; Alexa-enabled shopping hasn’t caught on; Walmart facilitates easier ecommerce returns; Amazon looks to expand sports content, experiments with video ads on mobile

The latest news on everything Amazon   Prime members now have access to curbside pickup at Whole Foods. To utilize the service, Prime members can shop Whole Foods on the Prime Now app or site and retrieve their order as early as an hour…


The Grinds: JCPenney banks on babies; Malls house digitally-native brands, coworking offices; Casper plans for 200 stores; VF ditches denim

JCPenney banks on babies, but seizing Toys R Us’ market share continues to ignore the company’s endemic problems. What happened JCPenney is opening 500 baby shops in its department stores, sweeping up market share from the liquidation of Toys R Us…


Nike, Disney and the shift to a direct-to-consumer business

While the emergency of direct-to-consumer brands has been well—if not overly—chronicled, people have paid less attention to wholesale-driven businesses shifting to direct-to-consumer. These changes are occurring across many industries, but consumer…


PrimeTime: Amazon is uniting its advertising business on a single platform, extends back-to-school season; Kroger debuts a new grocery delivery service

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon is uniting its advertising business on a single platform, regardless of whether advertisers seek to sell their products directly to Amazon or directly to shoppers as third-party sellers. The…


The Grinds: Walmart is incubating an Everlane-like private label, CVS embraces K-beauty, Equinox turns to employees for brand promotion, Van Leeuwen raises minority investment

Walmart is incubating an Everlane-like private-label brand—should Everlane worry? What happened Walmart’s new brand is allegedly inspired by Everlane—the minimalist “essentials” brand for women’s apparel and accessories—but will aim to reel in…


Everyone is spending more on marketing than they admit

Some startups such as Casper, Harry’s and Hims have or are spending money on advertising like established holding companies such as Unilever, P&G, Nestle do. They plow a massive percent of operating expenses into marketing and sell equity to do so.…


The Grinds: IKEA downsizes and digitizes, The RealReal raises $115 million, Disney and 21st Century Fox strike merger, A Ma Maniére fuses streetwear with hospitality

IKEA downsizes and digitizes to retain its hold on young clientele. What happened Since 2015, IKEA has opened 24 small format stores—an average of 9,700 square feet, compared to its traditional 82,000 square foot warehouses. Customers aren’t able…


The fallacy of ecommerce’s infinite shelf space

There is a common refrain that the beauty of ecommerce is the idea of infinite shelf space—that there can be an unlimited number of products for sale on the internet because there are no limits to the size of the shelf. This premise is one of the…


PrimeTime: Prime Video will launch more personalized interface, Prime members are lapping up Whole Foods perks, Amazon’s Q2 2018 profit exceeds $2.5 billion, Amazon sellers are paying for fake positive reviews

The latest news on everything Amazon   Prime Video is launching a more personalized interface for Amazon streamers. While Netflix has built its brand on personalization down to the thumbnails for each show, Prime viewers neither have user…


Netflix will soon sell a majority of its own creations. Will retailers follow suit?

Companies, like people, often experience FOMO—they want to be the opposite of what they are, and sometimes with good reason. One of the most interesting but under-the-radar inversions is between creators (brands or creatives) and distributors…


The Grinds: Ipsy unveils members-only beauty ecommerce site, Boutique and vintage vendors turn to Instagram, Retailers invite brands to advertise with package inserts, MoviePass acquires Moviefone

Ipsy, queen of the beauty subscription box, unveils Shopper, a members-only, direct-to-consumer site. What happened Ipsy, a subscription service that began in 2011, sends members Glam Bags, which include a personalized bounty of five full- and/or…


PrimeTime: Amazon sets record with Prime Day, expands advertising business; Whole Foods expands delivery service through Prime Now, Counterfeit brands hurt smaller vendors on Amazon, Best Buy differentiates itself with in-home advisors, Walmart plans to launch streaming service

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon now holds 49% of the ecommerce market, miles away from eBay’s 6.6% and Walmart’s 3.7%. The company exercised this muscle on July 16-17 for Prime Day, which saw 54% more sales in the first four…


Kylie Cosmetics and the value paradox of celebrity brands

Forbes recently put Kylie Jenner—member of the Kardashian clan and founder of Kylie Cosmetics, one of the fastest growing beauty brands ever—on the cover of its America’s Women Billionaires issue. The feature, which came with an…


The Grinds: Lady Gaga adds to celebrity beauty boom, Emirates Airline goes luxe, Casper tests out nap store, Walmart opens ecommerce center

Lady Gaga adds Haus Beauty to the celebrity beauty boom. What happened Lady Gaga’s Haus Beauty has raised money from Lightspeed Venture Partners, the same investment firm that backed Jessica Alba’s Honest Company, Stitch Fix and Snap, Inc. The…


PrimeTime: Amazon holds 49% of ecommerce market share, Target debuts one-day sale to compete with Prime Day, Walmart will use Microsoft’s cloud computing technology, Sonos is going public and highlighting partnership with Alexa

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon now holds 49% of the ecommerce market, miles away from eBay’s 6.6% and Walmart’s 3.7%. The company exercised this muscle on July 16-17 for Prime Day, which saw 54% more sales in the first four…


Does Amazon understand customer experience more than most brands?

More than 50% of product searches now begin on Amazon. This week we wrote about how the company has won over consumers' wallets by prioritizing convenience and functionality over design—and what other brands should do about it.


PrimeTime: Amazon partners with Snapchat on visual product search feature, uses Prime Day to highlight private labels, plans to launch holiday toy catalog, announces Delivery Service Partners program, acquires PillPack

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon is partnering with Snapchat on a visual product search that will live inside the social media app. The feature will allow users to identify songs, products and barcodes with the help of Shazam…


The Grinds: Disney and Muji launch immersive experiences, Aday grows “wear-testers” program, Peloton acquires Neurotic Media, WeWork debuts retail market

Disney brings Star Wars to Hollywood Studios and Muji opens more hotels, inviting visitors to live in their brands. What happened A little over a month after debuting Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios Park, Disney is bringing Star Wars: Galaxy’s…


Do DNVBs exist anymore? Revisiting the buzzword

Andy Dunn coined the term DNVB—digitally-native vertical brand—in 2016. The clearest possible reading of the addition of the word “vertical” is that it means “control,” akin to the idea of vertical integration, in which a company controls various…


PrimeTime: Prime Wardrobe launches for all U.S. Prime members, Kroger reigns supreme in U.S. online grocery delivery, Sonos makes a comeback, Amazon Hub grows, Prime members enjoy discounts at all U.S. Whole Foods locations, American Express and Amazon team up with co-branded credit card for small businesses

The latest news on everything Amazon   All U.S. Prime members now have access to Prime Wardrobe, a service that allows customers to order apparel online, gives them a seven-day grace period to try on the items, and then charges them for…


The Grinds: Nike debuts training pop-up, Rimowa tries out direct-to-consumer, YouTube reacts to IGTV, SoulCycle embraces media

Nike’s training pop-up gives customers the tools to “Just Do It.” What happened Nike Plus members and those with the Nike Training Club app can now visit a training pop-up in Los Angeles until mid-August and workout with professional athletes.…


Zara, Netflix and the rise of the Amorphous Brand

Most consumer product companies, especially direct-to-consumer brands that start out by serving a specific niche audience, sink or swim based on how they position themselves around a target customer. These brands define “our girl” or “our guy” and…


The Grinds: Goop answers pseudoscience criticism, UPS looks to automation, #MeToo jeans reprise the accessible feminism debate, Disney launches attraction previews

Goop answers pseudoscience criticism by coming clean about its product benefits. What happened After growing a business by amassing a devoted following of customers who believed in product benefits not necessarily backed by science—and receiving…


PrimeTime: Amazon launches Alexa for Hospitality, strives to win over Brazilian cosmetics companies, sells from Treasure Trucks; Microsoft develops cashierless technology; Roku plans to launch Amazon-inspired channel subscription service; CVS expands pharmaceutical delivery service

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon launched Alexa for Hospitality at a number of hotels in the Marriott family and has invited other hotel chains to integrate with its echo speakers as well. The service will place Echo speakers…


Money has flowed into digitally-native brands. When will it flow out?

As heavily-funded brands, Honest Company and Harry’s were once thought to be the new guard of digitally-native retail, along with many other companies that have attracted hundreds of millions of dollars of venture capital. But what has become of…


PrimeTime: Amazon inks deal to stream the English Premier League, extends 10% Whole Foods discount for Prime members, rebrands its membership program, debuts the Fire TV Cube; Sears expands its auto partnership with Amazon; Mastercard seeks to integrate payment system into Google and Amazon voice assistants

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon inked a deal with the English Premier League, giving the platform exclusive rights to stream soccer on Prime Video. This means that, starting in 2019, UK-based Prime members can watch the 20…


The Grinds: JCPenney launches Fanatics shop-in-shops, Honest Company raises $200 million, Wish brings the dollar store online, Walmart opens ModCloth stores

JCPenney banks on shop-in-shops, this time with digitally-native sports manufacturer and retailer Fanatics. What happened JCPenney launched Fanatics shop-in-shops in 350 of its locations, and plans to open 300 more by the end of the summer. Each…


PrimeTime: Amazon extends Whole Foods discounts to Prime subscribers, makes Prime Pantry a monthly membership, announces partnerships between Amazon Dash and WePlenish, AmazonFresh and SideChef; Costco holds out with strong membership model; “Amazon’s Choice” label grows in significance

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon is extending its Whole Foods discounts to Prime customers who will now save 10% on featured items—marketed as Prime Member deals in store—and on on-sale products at the grocery store in a…


The Grinds: Reformation inks wholesale deal with Nordstrom, H&M opens off-price store Afound, J.Crew plans a fall relaunch, Rent the Runway introduces maternity

Reformation expands its brick-and-mortar footprint with a new wholesale deal at Nordstrom. What happened Reformation, which sells eco-conscious clothing online and at its 11 stores, will sell at Nordstrom, both on the department store’s site and at…


Kardashian Kryptonite: From selling out to stocking products

When Kylie Jenner launched Kylie Lip Kits—her first beauty product—in 2015, she made only 15,000 units, which sold out in 20 minutes and grossed around $1 million. In June 2017, her sister Kim Kardashian launched KKW Beauty with one product: Contour…


Companies are staying private and unprofitable for longer. Is Wall Street the answer?

There are three main ways for startups that raise money to return it to their investors. First, they can stay independent and just exist as private, hopefully profitable companies. Second, they can sell to an acquirer and be part of a larger…


PrimeTime: Amazon’s hold over the beauty market grows, Google’s smart speaker sales surpass Amazon’s

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon’s hold over the beauty market is growing a minimum of 24% year over year in the U.S. in the top ten verticals. In Q1 2018, luxury cosmetics sales rose 57% and the company plans to capitalize on…


The Grinds: JAB expands its food and beverage empire, The NFL and Nike team up with Fanatics, Tiffany & Co. revives its retail, SoulCycle makes U-turn from IPO

JAB expands its food and beverage empire with Pret a Manger while Nestlé sheds U.S. candy brands. What happened JAB Holding Company, which owns food and beverage brands including Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Panera Bread Co., Keurig Green Mountain and…


The Grinds: Comme des Garçons names direct-to-consumer brand, Walmart and eBay personalize shopping, Saks and Barneys strive to stay relevant, Target adds new digital beauty services

Comme des Garçons launches CDG, taking on a new challenge: direct-to-consumer ecommerce. What happened In the lead up to the launch of CDG in July, Comme des Garçons is launching CDG Breaking News this May as a capsule collection teaser. The CDG…


The Niche Paradox: The difference between underserved and niche markets

While many of the newest crop of digitally-native, direct-to-consumer brands attempt to democratize luxury in one way or another, they still overwhelmingly attend to young professionals in urban centers like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.…


PrimeTime: Amazon Channels reigns over television subscriptions; Amazon upgrades its beauty shopping experience, will launch the Marketplace Appstore for sellers, is closing customer accounts because of returns; Whole Foods tests a store-in-a-store housewares concept, Acer’s new laptops are integrated with Alexa

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon Channels continues to take more of the television subscriptions pie from TV networks. The service, which allows Prime customers to purchase streaming subscriptions to television channels is now…


Actors, like brands, rise and fall based on performance

As more businesses strive to be defensible, competitive and long-lasting, the vast majority nevertheless lose relevance, fall prey to better-managed copycats, or fail to evolve to meet changing consumer needs—evidence that a brand’s status is never…


The Grinds: Bulletin opens its third New York store, Aesop expands its retail footprint, Shopify moves offline, Walmart will sell Harry’s razors

Bulletin is opening its third New York store, continuing its quest to champion women in business. Bulletin, which began as an online magazine in 2014 featuring digitally-native women-led brands, will open its third flagship store in the historic…


The Grinds: Instagram launches in-app payments, Sephora opens its second Studio, Online returns are hurting landlords, Birchbox sells a majority stake to one of its investors

Instagram launches in-app payments for select brands, which could substantially increase its share of commerce. What happened For the in-app payments, an extension of Facebook Payments, Instagram allows users to create a profile that includes their…


PrimeTime: Amazon is using 3D body scanning to collect data to grow its apparel business, halted its expansion in Seattle, added a children’s book subscription to Prime, launched a new private-label pet brand called Wag

The latest news on everything Amazon   As its apparel retail business grows, Amazon’s 3D body scanning department will collect data on how body size and shape changes over time. The company acquired a startup called Body Labs in 2017 that…