1) 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 flak from consumers and scientists alike—Goop is working on transparency. Recently, the company took on two new hires with a PhD in nutritional science—one of whom will apply expertise in Chinese medicine to create and endorse new SKUs.
  • Alongside Goop’s product descriptions, shoppers will also find tags ranging from “For Your Enjoyment”—which implies a lack of scientific backing for a fun product—“Ancient Modality”—pointing to centuries of use, even if contemporary research hasn’t substantiated it yet—and “Rigorously Tested”, with backing from the MD and PhD realm. These classifications will be applied to older blog posts and product descriptions over time.

Why it matters

  • As Gwyneth Paltrow expands the Goop empire—with the help of the $50 million March fundraise meant to develop the company’s global reach and ecommerce operations—addressing critics, or at least acknowledging the lack of professional merit behind many of its products, will be a key driver for growth.
  • Right now, 40% of Goop’s sales come from the fashion category and another 40% come from beauty—but the last 20% of sales are based in the more elusive “wellness” category, which happens to be growing the fastest of all. Recognition of the benefits and/or scientific justification for products, particularly for those in the wellness category like supplements and skincare items—or acknowledgement that they are just for fun—will bring newfound transparency to the company, which will help mollify past criticism and build brand equity.

2) An antiquated UPS looks to automation, but it’s playing catch up with FedEx and Amazon.

What happened

  • Today, about 50% of UPS packages enter automated facilities, compared to 96% at FedEx. But over the next three years, UPS plans to spend $20 billion to update its operations, aiming to process all of its packages at automated distribution centers by 2022. In 2018, the company will increase its automation capacity by 6.7%.

Why it matters

  • Since the rise of ecommerce, shipping companies like FedEx and UPS have found themselves at a disadvantage in contrast to younger, digitally-savvy companies—specifically Amazon, which is building its fleet of cargo planes to 40 by the end of 2018 and is testing out a crowdsourcing delivery program called Amazon Flex that is independent of FedEx and UPS altogether. But while FedEx quickly modernized its operations to account for online shopping and technological developments, UPS has lagged behind. The company still uses old equipment and manual scanning, straggling in the face of Amazon, which continues to streamline its process further with automated forklifts and robots at its fulfillment centers.
  • As a unionized company, UPS faces greater restrictions than FedEx—employees prefer more full-time hires to automation, which poses threats to their own livelihoods. But it’s vital that UPS keep up with shipping competitors as ecommerce continues to grow. In 2015, UPS experienced a 2% rise in volume and is having trouble keeping up, even with its approximately 100,000 vehicles, 600 aircraft and 80,000 daily drivers. Particularly because shipping to shoppers’ individual homes means lower margins than delivering large shipments to offices or retailers, bringing newfound efficiency at low cost is the only way for the company to compete in the long term.

3) #MeToo jeans reprise the accessible feminism debate.

What happened

  • We Wear the Pants, a limited-edition capsule collection created by Marta Goldschmied and Gabriella Meyer, laser-etches newspaper articles about sexual harassment in the workplace on its denim. Jeans in the collection go for $250, jackets for $375 and t-shirts for $57, with 10% of sales donated to the National Women’s Law Center.
  • The collection is available both online and at three pop-ups. The in-store concept emulates a butcher shop—products will be packaged like meat, replete with price stickers that showcase the amount donated to the National Women’s Law Center.

Why it matters

  • #MeToo denim raises the question of what it means for companies to make a political statement—particularly when an entire brand is centered on politics. While most consumers want to align themselves with brands that mirror their values, it’s much harder for a nascent brand to launch with a moral compass, both for lack of awareness and lack of funds. We Wear the Pants has already been castigated for donating only 10% of proceeds, but likely, this is all the company can afford in order to stay afloat.
  • It’s admirable that We Wear the Pants immortalizes an important sociopolitical moment and is working to help victims of sexual harassment. But, much like the all-women’s co-working space The Wing, the jeans inherently bar participation in the very cause the brand seeks to advance. Only a select number of women can wear items from the collection—not only because of the price, but also because sizes only run up to size 10. For an initiative meant to empower women and allies from all walks of life, their initial lack of inclusivity inspired criticism, which Meyer and Goldschmied are now responding to by creating extended sizing.

4) Disney launches attraction previews at its theme parks, expanding its dynamic pricing model.

What happened

  • Disneyland visitors can now buy six-hour access to see a new attraction, Pixar Pier, for the price of $299. The move is part of Disney’s attempt to create a dynamic pricing model, which means that ticket prices for its theme parks will fluctuate depending on when they’re purchased. Visitors can now purchase “value,” “regular” and “peak” dates, choosing to spend as little as $97 or as much as $135 for Disneyland, and as little as $102 or as much as $122 for Disney World.

Why it matters

  • Disney has worked to manage a steady, and sometimes overwhelming flow of theme park visitors over the years by balancing price increases with flexible points of entry to the Disney ecosystem. After decades of abiding by Walt’s wish to keep Disney experiences affordable, the company raised maximum ticket prices by more than 68% since 2000—it also increased parking fees in March 2018 after a drawn-out debate. But despite these changes, the company also began offering FastPass+ in 1999: A free booking service for ticketed visitors to request up to three rides a day, up to two months in advance.
  • These adjustments, as with the dynamic pricing model, help the theme parks plan for each day’s influx of visitors and make it easier for the staff to treat them to the best possible experience. They also extend the Disney ladder, which allows different types of consumers to experience the world of Disney at the price points most comfortable to them, from cartoons to resorts. With popularity full steam ahead—park attendance increases approximately 1.3% per year, with 38.8 million visitors in the U.S. in 2017—finding ways to captivate Disney’s customers with special experiences will help the ecosystem expand even further, as well as build customer loyalty.