1) Bobbi Brown’s mass-market line enters Walmart as wellness pervades the mainstream.

WHAT HAPPENED: Beauty legend Bobbi Brown’s accessible supplement line, Evolution_18, is making its foray into 1,500+ U.S. Walmart stores, as well as the retailer’s site.

Why it matters

  • As the wellness economy continues to grow, many products remain off-limits for the majority of shoppers because of high price point, from Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop to Peloton. But Bobbi Brown, who departed from her eponymous beauty brand in 2016, has a solution. In April 2018, Brown launched the wellness brand Evolution_18 on QVC, selling at Lord & Taylor’s Manhattan flagship until it shuttered in January 2019. Now at Walmart, Evolution_18 will give mass-market shoppers a new entry point into the collagen and superfood industry.
  • Evolution_18 isn’t just a boon for shoppers who have missed out on wellness trends because of their aspirational cost. The company expects to reel in $11 million by the end of its first year, which speaks to the benefits of creating an accessible brand. A brand that launches on QVC and sells at Walmart naturally gets in front of different eyes than the countless direct-to-consumer cosmetics brands, or the prestige brands that wholesale at Sephora and high-end department stores. Plus, despite its lower-priced SKUs, Evolution_18 is endowed with credibility thanks to Brown’s name. Its entrance into an everyday retailer points to the growth of wellness into a mainstream category, which more shoppers want access to, regardless of socioeconomic status.

2) Whole Foods opens a convenience store in New York, joining other retailers in their quest to downsize for urban markets.

WHAT HAPPENED: Whole Foods Market Daily Shop in Chelsea is only 2,500 square feet, and sells local produce and baked goods, as well as convenience store items.

Why it matters

  • Though Whole Foods has launched food hall-like markets within its Bryant Park and Williamsburg grocery stores, the daily market—more than 94% smaller than Whole Foods’ average 43,000-square-foot stores—is more reminiscent of the efforts brands such as Target, Dollar General, and IKEA have made to establish city-friendly versions of their big-box stores. It also harkens back to its parent company’s cashierless convenience-store concept, Amazon Go.
  • Capitalizing off of the urban market has become a trend among mass retailers, but to do so, they must adapt to urban preferences and needs. Target’s smaller format stores feature its private labels and exclusive wholesale partnerships with brands like Casper, while the merchandise at IKEA’s forthcoming Manhattan location caters to NYC-sized apartments. For the Whole Foods Market Daily Shop, the differentiator is highly-localized products and self-checkout kiosks, but questions abound. For one, the smaller storefront is situated right next door to a full-sized Whole Foods, which suggests that the daily shop is for the same customer demo—just a more time-crunched one. If anything, the daily shop demonstrates that Amazon is working to establish Whole Foods as more upscale vis-à-vis its own mass-market grocery ambitions. The growing Amazon Go footprint (with 3,000 locations expected by 2021), the decision to cease building out more 365 stores or feature the lower-priced 365 label at the daily shop, and Amazon’s mystery grocery concept all show greater bifurcation between the Whole Foods grocery brand and that of Amazon.

3) Impossible Foods goes from niche to mass as it expands its wholesale business from high-end restaurants to Burger King, proving that a viral trend can sustain lasting resonance.

WHAT HAPPENED: Burger King is introducing Impossible Foods’ plant-based patty at 59 stores in St. Louis, and will potentially expand to all 7,200 U.S. locations.

Why it matters

  • Impossible Foods, founded in 2011, already sells at about 380 White Castle locations and is also planning to launch at Red Robin’s 570 restaurants. But the move into Burger King’s massive network would give the plant-based meat imitator a truly national status. Though Impossible Foods is confident that its manufacturing facilities will be able to handle the uptick in production (it also added a second production line specifically for its Burger King business), the more interesting aspect of the partnership is Impossible Foods’ pliability when it comes to wholesaling. The Impossible Whopper has the same ingredient makeup as the patties sold to other restaurants and chains, but the brand took pains to create it in the Burger King tradition, altering size and shape and ensuring that they wouldn’t fall apart on the BK grill. But at the same time, the vegetarian patties will be served in Impossible-branded packaging, giving the item an exclusive-to-Burger-King feel.
  • Impossible Foods’ penetration into the fast food market highlights the brand’s versatility, from the high-end Momofuku Nishi, where it launched in 2018 and gained credibility from celebrity chef David Chang, to its forthcoming entrance into select grocery stores in 2019. Its high-low wholesaling strategy also lends itself to a universality that will prevent a once-viral trend from drying up. But as Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat and others become more commonplace, any buyers that are using plant-based meat to lure in new customers may ultimately see traffic flatten.

4) 1-800-Flowers remains relevant thanks to a multi-channel model, but younger, direct-to-consumer brands aim to create everyday floral businesses.

WHAT HAPPENED: 1-800-Flowers, which launched in 1982, still maintains relevance thanks to a channel strategy that combines ecommerce, mobile commerce and brick-and-mortar sales, but newer brands have a leg up by pitching themselves as everyday plant companies rather than occasion-specific.

Why it matters

  • 1-800-Flowers, a 42-year-old brand, is still at the top of the flower market. In 2018, the company reported a $1.2 billion revenue, with 52% of sales stemming from its gourmet food and gift baskets and 40% from its consumer floral business. Its continued relevance is tied to a multi-channel strategy, which includes ecommerce (since 1995), mobile commerce, corporate and franchise-owned stores and more than 5,000 Bloomnet affiliate stores (it also acquired Harry & David in 2014). In order to retain this position, the company spent $39.2 million on tech and development in 2018 and operates a membership program that offers free two-day shipping and other benefits, much like Prime. Though not a direct competitor, Edible Arrangements also made its mark in 2018 with a $500 million annual revenue.
  • These companies, however, are predicated on gifting and celebrations (11% of Edible Arrangements sales occur in November and December during the holiday season). Now, younger companies are taking the direct-to-consumer route, but selling products independently of holidays and birthdays. The digitally-native house plant brand The Sill, for instance, launched in 2012 at a time when its only real competition was at Home Depot and 1-800-Flowers, standing out by emphasizing connection and education between its brand, products and customers. Though a much smaller business in terms of both revenue and offline presence (it has only three stores in New York and LA), The Sill’s products are relevant regardless of time. Once it broadens its footprint, it could have much greater resonance than occasion-based flower sites like 1-800-Flowers and Edible Arrangements, particularly as the plant and flower market grows in the age of Instagram.