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

1) 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…


The promises and perils of digital waitlists

Last week I wrote about the authenticity of long lines, using Supreme and Everlane as contrasting examples. Long lines and limited scarcity are part of Supreme’s DNA, while they are out of place for a basics brand like Everlane. Either way, I noted…


The Grinds: Instacart may suffer from Walmart-Amazon food wars, Meghan Markle takes influencer marketing offline, Brookfield Ventures invests in tech-driven startups, Kering adapts to a changing luxury industry

In Walmart and Amazon’s food wars, Instacart may be the collateral damage. What happened Walmart continues to rev up its grocery operations at home and abroad. This week, the company announced that it will merge its grocery chain Asda with…


PrimeTime: Amazon will sell an Echo Dot for kids, raise its annual Prime membership fee, stream Thursday Night Football, double its credit line, sell Chico’s apparel; Amazon is attempting to win over HQ2 finalists and growing its retail business with profits from AWS and advertising; Private equity firms want to consolidate top Amazon sellers

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon will begin selling the Echo Dot Kids Edition in May 2018—a smaller device with a protective case, two-year warranty, and a year of the FreeTime Unlimited Family Plan, including child-oriented…


The difference between Supreme and Everlane’s long lines

If you happen to be near a Supreme store on a Thursday around 11am, you’re likely to see hundreds of people waiting in a barricaded line for the latest drop. Just a few blocks away from Supreme, you’ll see a line of one or two dozen people outside…


PrimeTime: Amazon Key delivers to cars; Walmart’s online grocery program improvements are paying off; Amazon gives Best Buy exclusive rights to sell Fire TVs, inked live video game deal with the NBA, may surpass Walmart as top U.S. apparel retailer; Home Depot amps up tech team to compete with Amazon

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon Key now delivers packages to customers’ cars—an additional service to the Key program, which also drops off packages inside of Prime Members’ homes with the help of an internet-connected door…


Is Debt Divine or Disastrous?

While debt has proved problematic for bigger companies, it can also be a savior for smaller ones. In the direct-to-consumer horse race, brands are trying to scale faster than their competitors—most companies have turned to selling equity in exchange…


The Grinds: Toy retailers seek gains from Toys R Us’ bankruptcy, Fraud-detecting services vet online shoppers, The Wing ushers in a new era of retail real estate, Beauty buffs and sneakerheads form social channels

Big toy retailers like Hasbro and Mattel and independent toy stores hope to gain market share from Toys R Us’ bankruptcy, but Amazon and its competitors may beat them to it. What happened In the wake of Toys R Us’ bankruptcy, toy manufacturers…


PrimeTime: Amazon expands Prime Wardrobe, braces itself for new state taxes, outpaces Best Buy as top electronics retailer; Amazon Echo partners with home builders; Amazon Fuse will expand the company’s media ecosystem; Walmart may buy stake in Flipkart

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon will allow more Prime members to access the Prime Wardrobe program, which lets shoppers try on clothes before paying for them. Prime Wardrobe—which has yet to officially launch and serves…


The Grinds: Walmart plans to redesign site, Click-to-buy morphs into click-to-buy-and-make, b8ta expands “retail as a service,” Domino’s delivers to customers en route

Walmart is making its website more sleek, but where does that leave Jet? What happened Walmart, which continues to devote more resources to its ecommerce operation, plans to debut a resigned website that spotlights its higher-end brands and…


Should brands leave money on the table—or on the shelf?

Despite its envious position, Supreme is in an interesting conundrum: to keep growing, it either has to keep making more products or raise the prices of existing ones, but doing so will change the sellout characteristics for the brand. This is…


It takes decades to build a meaningful brand—and minutes to destroy it

In a previous edition of The Filter, we presented the concept that Brand and The Brand are two different entities. We defined Brand as “the accumulation of all of a company’s actions to make something meaningful and memorable” and we defined The…


The Grinds: Nordstrom opens first standalone men’s store, LVMH launches luxury startup accelerator, Warby Parker must meet investors’ expectations, USV invests in livestream marketplace ShopShops

Nordstrom opens its first standalone men’s store, relying on data to cultivate its foray into New York City. What happened Nordstrom’s first standalone men’s store—and first store in New York—will open this Thursday in Manhattan. The store enters…


PrimeTime: Amazon grows its private-label presence; U.S. warehouses unfit for ecommerce fulfillment; Amazon wants Alexa to compete with Venmo; Walmart continues to compete with Amazon via price matching, pickup kiosks and healthcare; Amazon’s R&D expenses surpass those of all other U.S. companies

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon now has over 70 active private-label brands on its platform. The majority of these brands emerged in 2017, though the company began testing its private-label products in 2009. These brands and…


PrimeTime: Whole Foods may offer discount to Prime members; Amazon Video falls behind Netflix, YouTube and Hulu; Amazon launches Home Assistants; Trump may seek to regulate Amazon; Amazon Spark is failing, Amazon is collecting state sales tax, but leaving out cities

The latest news on everything Amazon   Whole Foods may offer Prime members a 10% discount, based on signs advertising the offer were seen in the grocery chain’s flagship Austin store. Since the Amazon acquisition, benefits to Whole Foods…


The Grinds: Build-A-Bear thrives—Toys R Us dies, Adore Me to open stores near Victoria’s Secret, New York City devises retail vacancy tax for landlords, Goop raises $50 million

Build-A-Bear thrives —Toys R Us dies. To-the-point analysis about one of the four important stories from the week.   What happened Build-A-Bear has posted four consecutive years of profitability and remains debt free in an era when…


What can the direct-to-consumer explosion learn from the farm-to-table movement?

In the mid-2000s, the farm-to-table movement transformed the food industry. Though the food industry is often ahead of others because it sells products that people physically consume, the consumer goods space—fashion, apparel, beauty, CPG and…


The Grinds: Ulta Beauty will begin selling Chanel Beauté, Nordstrom family ends buyout effort, ThredUp wants to create a consignment ecosystem, Google launches new advertising program online with its AI assistant

Ulta Beauty will begin selling Chanel Beauté—a coveted and surprising addition to the beauty retailer that mixes high and low. To-the-point analysis about one of the four important stories from the week.   What happened Ulta Beauty,…


Virgil’s Ladder: From Vision to Vuitton

This week, after months of rumors, LVMH named Virgil Abloh—Kanye West’s life-long creative director, founder of Off-White, endless brand collaborator, DJ and former Fendi intern—as the new menswear director for Louis Vuitton. The appointment propels…


The Grinds: Best Buy, other retailers crack down on returns, Duty-free airport retail thrives, ASOS stands out with its product descriptions, West Elm sells experiences with local artists

Best Buy and other retailers are cracking down on the number and frequency of returns, but are risking their customer relationships. To-the-point analysis about one of the four important stories from the week.   What happened Best…


As Facebook advertising costs rise, digitally-native brands turn to traditional advertising

A Warby Parker pamphlet arrives in the mail. A Glossier billboard hovers above Houston Street. Clones of an Away wheatpaste coat a construction barrier. A Stitch Fix TV ad blares from the television. For a generation of digitally-native brands,…


PrimeTime: Amazon.com lockers at Whole Foods lead to more short-term grocery visits; Amazon may have its sights set on Toys R Us real estate; Executives leave Whole Foods; Whole Foods lays off regional marketing staff; Majority of Amazon shoppers don’t notice ads

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon.com lockers, which are installed at over 75 Whole Foods locations, allow Amazon customers to pick up their packages in a secure location. This leading to more short-term visits and impulse…


PrimeTime: Amazon goes after lower-income customers; strikes multi-year contract with Whole Foods, but leaves small grocery vendors worried; makes Prime Pantry a monthly subscription; discusses partnership with banks to create Amazon checking account product

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon continues to go after lower-income customers, infiltrating Walmart territory with a discounted Prime membership for Medicaid recipients. The membership costs 54% of a regular Prime membership…


The Grinds: Target opens small-format stores, BuzzFeed adds new beauty and style vertical, JAB Holding Company conquers coffee, Glossier launches new pop-up

Target is the latest mass retailer to open small-format stores, whose focus on private label could help it provide even more differentiated products. To-the-point analysis about one of the five important stories from the week.  …


Big brands need to unbundle themselves if they want to survive

Gap, Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie and Fitch, J.Crew and Aeropostale have thousands of people on staff, hundreds of retail stores, and complex global supply chains. But having largely failed to deliver shoppers better products, inspiring brands and…


The Grinds: JCPenney leverages Sephora, Stitch Fix adapts its subscription model, Best Buy closes mobile phone stores, BuzzFeed and Walmart launch a product collaboration, Amazon warehouses embrace chaos

JCPenney continues to leverage Sephora for its turnaround efforts, but the minimal amount of control it has over its biggest growth driver is worrisome. To-the-point analysis about one of the five important stories from the week.   What…


The gift and curse of Amazon’s margin mentality

Amazon has an entirely different view of margin than most other companies. One of CEO Jeff Bezos’ most well-known quotes is, “Your margin is my opportunity,” signaling the company’s intention to use its scale to significantly drive down prices for…


The Grinds: Fast-fashion full-price sales fall, Amazon expands Amazon Go, Younique raises Coty’s profitability, Adidas’ Speedfactory innovates the supply chain, ABC Carpet & Home sells top floors as office space

Fast-fashion retailers are seeing falling full-price sales, led by H&M and more recently, Zara. To-the-point analysis about one of the five important stories from the week.   What happened Analysts were already concerned with Zara’s…


Why is Walmart intentionally launching brands outside its ecosystem?

Last week Walmart announced that it’s launching two new standalone brands: Allswell for mattresses and other bedding products, and Co Squared for beauty and personal care. These are the first two standalone brands Walmart has launched since its…


The Grinds: Harry’s moves beyond shaving, Prime credit card users get cash back at Whole Foods, Instacart and grocery partners compete with Amazon, Kraft Heinz cuts costs, but needs to grow, Amazon Lending partners with Bank of America

Harry's moves beyond shaving as it tries to become a platform and holding company for digitally-native brands. To-the-point analysis about one of the five important stories from the week.   What happened Harry’s, a…


Equinox’s foresight and the future of retail real estate

Today, consumers are spending more money on experiences rather than things. But despite this shift, the real estate industry’s main answer has been to fall back on its existing business model of renting out space—maybe this time to a restaurant…


The Grinds: Goop expands merchandise, Whole Foods raises rates for sellers, L. L. Bean updates return policy, Secondary sneaker market heats up, Macy’s launches new pop-up

Goop expands and diversifies G. Label merchandise, but questions of scalability loom To-the-point analysis about one of the five important stories from the week.   What happened Goop, which launched in 2008 as Gwyneth Paltrow’s…


Basics brands are commodities. Why do people keep building them?

The hidden secret of most businesses is that the more boring the business, the better the business—the flashier, the worse. This heuristic is especially true in the consumer goods landscape, where brands run the hazard of seeking attention over…


The Grinds: Fenty Beauty outpaces competition, Alibaba moves offline, H&M curbs expansion, Mall landlords fight over tenants, Apparel sales hit all-time low

Fenty Beauty becomes the fastest-growing celebrity cosmetics line To-the-point analysis about one of the five important stories from the week.   What happened Sales for Fenty Beauty, a cosmetics line created by Rihanna, Sephora and…


What is Amazon? Definitely not a conglomerate.

Standard Oil and General Electric—two of the most successful companies ever—are the go-to comparison for massive, interlinked companies. But those who call Amazon the Standard Oil or GE of the 21st century use a comparison that falls short and…


The Grinds: Outdoor Voices calls out copycats, Amazon raises seller fees, Starbucks mobile ordering grows, Fake products slip past The RealReal, IKEA partners with TaskRabbit

Fans of Outdoor Voices call out brands for copying its products, proving more powerful than non-existent legal protections To-the-point analysis about one of the five important stories from the week.   What happened Outdoor Voices…


The difference between Brand and The Brand, and why neither are defensible

“The brand is defensible” is a phrase increasingly muttered across the consumer landscape. The challenge with a statement like this is that “brand” usually lacks a definition, further perpetuating an important misunderstanding: people are mixing up…


The uncertain road from a single product to lasting brand

A single-product company that desires to become a brand needs to diversify its products over time to maintain interest and evolve with the market. But few single-product based companies have been able to build lasting brands with a wide assortment…


The Grinds: Amazon Go opens, Richemont buys Yoox Net-a-Porter, Young people prefer online shopping, Bankrupt retailers get rent concessions, Target unveils unique fragrance

Richemont buys Yoox Net-a-Porter, becoming the first major luxury holding company with a serious ecommerce operation To-the-point analysis about one of the five important stories from the week.   Why it’s interesting…


The Grinds: Beauty Pie’s pricing strategy, Amazon’s aesthetic, Target’s holiday sales, Amazon’s beauty business, Aural advertising increases

Beauty Pie, the membership-based beauty retailer sees success with its unconventional pricing strategy To-the-point analysis about one of the five important stories from the week.   Why it’s interesting Beauty Pie was started…


Facebook is the ultimate middleman. Will brands cut it out?

“Cutting out the middleman” is a phrase thrown around endlessly across the consumer industry, often without much thought. Particularly catalyzed by the direct-to-consumer and digitally-native brand boom, the concept transformed from a boring…


Retail is having its Napster moment

Wired UK recently published a great behind-the-scenes piece about the company that makes stages and sets for the largest touring musicians around the world. Reading it illuminated a parallel between the music industry’s evolution and that of……


The Grinds: Amazon x Nike, Equinox x Rumble, niche vs mass CPG brands, Apple & product delays, private equity & fashion

Amazon x Nike, Equinox x Rumble, niche vs mass CPG brands, Apple & product delays, private equity & fashion.