1) 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 musician’s foray into beauty follows Rihanna’s wildly successful Fenty Beauty, which launched in September 2017, as well as Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics and Kim Kardashian’s KKW Beauty.

Why it matters

  • It’s unclear to what extent the pop singer will be involved in the beauty brand, but this will dictate the path forward. Already, the artist has 28.9 million followers on Instagram and 76.5 on Twitter, which raises the profile of the brand, especially since she is known for her extravagant makeup and dress. With the ever-rising number of new beauty brands, especially among celebrity founders, honing what differentiates Lady Gaga from other artists will be of the utmost importance to drive the brand—as well as how well her products reflect her personality.
  • These celebrities can’t do it all alone, either. Their businesses need manufacturers and distributors and the pliability and size of these operations help determine their overall reach—a topic we explore more in depth in this week’s Filter. Fenty Beauty, for example, skyrocketed not only thanks to Rihanna, but to Kendo, Sephora’s in-house brand incubator. The way Gaga decides to sell items from Haus Beauty—whether wholesale or direct-to-consumer—will also set tracks for how the brand develops.

2) Emirates Airline aims to provide a luxury experience to a small, but devoted customer base.

What happened

  • The Dubai-based Emirates Airline is revamping its first- and business-class experience, offering flyers private, 40-square-foot suites, chauffeured BMWs to and from the airport and concierge services that can help travelers book a resort package or reserve a table at a restaurant.

Why it matters

  • Most airlines try to add more seats and sell as many tickets as possible, especially on the economy side, even though first-class and business-class passengers contribute about half of an airline’s revenue. But Emirates doesn’t rely on coach seats to fill up every inch of their planes. Though its average capacity is 78% compared to the industry’s 80%, focusing on higher paying customers brings the company higher margins. In turn, Emirates is branding itself as a luxury lifestyle company that offers a seamless pre-, in- and post-flight experience instead of an isolated airport or plane experience; the company’s president Tim Clark says that he wants flying Emirates to feel like “walking into a Ritz-Carlton.” Accordingly, the airline’s profit margin grew to 5.5% between 2010 and 2015, compared to 2.3% across the industry.
  • Consumers already want more on-the-go amenities, which Emirates knows as it caters to a specific demographic who is willing to dole out money for added conveniences and luxuries. Like private aviation, which personalizes the in-flight experience for wealthier customers, Emirates is not only meeting but anticipating customer needs. This not only is exactly what flyers are paying for, but also builds devotion to the airline.

3) Casper tests out a nap store—an immersive and scalable advertisement for its mattress business.

What happened

  • The direct-to-consumer mattress company Casper unveiled a nap store called the Dreamery, featuring Casper pillows, sheets and mattresses, as well as pajamas, toiletries and meditative audio. The experience costs $25 for a 45-minute nap and sheets are changed between visitors.

Why it matters

  • Casper has been a breakout brand in the mattress industry, raking in $300 million in 2017 revenue, according to the company. The Dreamery, however, lets anyone try out Casper, both in terms of product and experience—visitors can literally camp out, finding refuge from the chaos of work or travel. This inevitably serves as a marketing tool for the company, while tapping into the experience economy, which Casper can easily scale to other locations, such as airports, offices or campuses.
  • The nap store also lets visitors sink into a mattress in private. Not only is this a vast departure from typical mattress retail—and the awkwardness of testing out firmness in front of a sales associate—but it also encourages a level of personalization that makes the experience truly yours. Casper’s New York flagship includes six semi-private bedrooms to test out products, which the company also does in various pop-ups and in the “napmobiles” that it drove around the U.S., each of which was outfitted with four nap pods. But the Dreamery is entirely grounded in the napping experience, which Casper seeks to turn into a destination of its own—the added bonus is that if visitors enjoy their time at the Dreamery, they can pop over to the adjacent retail store to bring the experience home with them.

4) Walmart opens an ecommerce center in the Bronx, looking to Amazon’s fulfillment model.

What happened

  • The ecommerce fulfillment center, leased by Jet.com, will serve the company’s plans to build out its same- and next-day grocery delivery service in New York. The center will fulfill Jet orders rather than Walmart ones, at least at first.

Why it matters

  • Walmart’s Bronx fulfillment center recalls Amazon’s original model, before it acquired Whole Foods in August 2017 and began using the grocery stores as mini-fulfillment centers with the added bonus of brick-and-mortar retail. Walmart’s new center, however, won’t serve retail purposes, keeping it a step behind Amazon.
  • With both the Jet and Walmart brands, the Walmart parent company has been developing new tactics to reach higher-paying customers. In June 2018, Walmart debuted Jetblack, an invite-only, texting-centric personal shopping service aimed at busy, urbanites. It also launched a site redesign for Walmart that features higher-end brands. As Walmart evolves these brands, its ambiguous approach continues to raise questions about whether the two can coexist—and whether they should, given their different customers.