1) Peloton launches a hotel finder, giving cyclists greater access to the brand, regardless of physical location.

WHAT HAPPENED: The company’s search tool helps travelers locate Peloton-friendly hotels, allowing them to view and easily book a room with one of its brand partners.

Why it matters

  • Like Tripadvisor for cyclists, Peloton’s tool includes information about how many of its bikes are available at a given hotel’s fitness center and the bikes’ unique features (e.g. bike weights), allowing users to directly book a room. Users can also contribute to the database with their own hotel recommendations and the site gives hotels a way to reach out about a Peloton partnership. These bikes are available for both member and commercial use. Clearly, the interest in a Peloton hotel finder existed for the company to capitalize on: A cursory Google search brings up a Reddit page about where to find hotels outfitted with Peloton bikes, and blog posts by Fittest Travel and Peloton Buddy (unaffiliated with the company) publish lists of their own.
  • Having unbundled the stationary bicycle and cycling class from the gym, promoting its hotel partnerships is another way for Peloton to strengthen customer loyalty by providing cyclists with the resources they need to continue their workouts even when they’re traveling. Essentially, the hotel finder lets consumers view the world on Peloton’s pedals, building its brand through convenience. This will be important as home fitness continues to grow, as recently seen with Best Buy’s decision to sell stationary bikes, rowing machines and treadmills with class streaming capabilities, and as SoulCycle builds out its loyalty program and perks.

2) BuzzFeed expands its Tasty product lines in an attempt to diversify revenue.

WHAT HAPPENED: In bringing new licensed products to market, BuzzFeed estimates that it can reel in $260 million in GMV by the end of the year, up from an estimated $130 million in 2018 sales, according to the trade publication License Global.

Why it matters

  • BuzzFeed’s push into brand licensing aims to diversify the struggling media company’s revenue and ultimately, help it reach profitability. Its Tasty product line in particular has seen great success—in 2018, Tasty accounted for one-quarter of BuzzFeed Commerce’s revenue and was the largest source of non-advertising revenue for BuzzFeed, company-wide. Now Tasty is landing additional store space at Walmart, where it exclusively sells its branded kitchenware, and bringing its products to Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America thanks to other manufacturing partnerships. BuzzFeed is also working with other companies in the U.S. to launch Tasty meal kits, kitchen tools, wine, and pre-prepared food between 2019 and 2020.
  • Tasty shows the potential for a media site like BuzzFeed to build one of its most successful editorial verticals into a product line, which points to symbiosis across the company, even if it has yet to replicate this strategy on the same level. But while brand licensing is a positive departure from BuzzFeed’s unhealthy reliance on digital advertising and gives the brand resonance at major retailers (in the U.S. and soon to be abroad), the Tasty-branded items are both lower-margin and BuzzFeed only receives around 5-25% royalties on sales, depending on the SKU. The company is attempting to amplify revenues by using its expanding branded product assortment to offer new spaces to advertisers, specifically on packaging and in-store consumer promotions, striking a flywheel of sorts. While Disney has managed a lucrative licensing business that’s interconnected to its media production, parks and resorts and merch businesses, BuzzFeed’s brand doesn’t have the same resonance. It remains to be seen whether this product strategy will be able to prop up the media brand in the future.

3) Poshmark adds home goods to its resale marketplace, and may expand to furniture.

WHAT HAPPENED: The new vertical, dubbed Home Market, offers SKUs such as curtains and storage supplies, and may even sell large furniture in the future.

Why it matters

  • Since launching in 2011, Poshmark has grown into a community of 40 million by uniting a social platform with the resale market. The company began with women’s fashion, later growing into menswear, cosmetics and kids’ apparel, all of which brought in $140 million in 2018 revenue (Poshmark collects 20% of each purchase). Much of this growth is attributed to the rise of the resale market, which includes companies such as The RealReal, Rebag and Fashionphile in the luxury sector and ThredUp in the mass market sector, though much of this activity is centralized around fashion and accessories.
  • With home goods, Poshmark has an opportunity to tap into a $582 billion market and become one of its more established resale players thanks to a strong, social-inclined brand presence. However, it will have to undergo significant logistical changes if it seeks to expand its offering to furniture. Right now, Poshmark holds zero inventory and sellers ship for a flat $6.79 if a package is under five pounds. With the rise of furniture rental options and secondhand furniture growing, consumers have come to expect pickup, delivery and assembly services. These services are not currently available through Poshmark’s marketplace, and the company will have to account for the specificities of furniture resale if it wants to expand its home section in the future.

4) Supermaker, a site by and for entrepreneurs, attempts to strengthen community and raise awareness for consumer brand founders, but is trying to be too many things at once to make a mark.

WHAT HAPPENED: The editorial site is a home for advice on topics ranging from professional growth to investment funding and marketing, as well as features consumer brand stories.

Why it matters

  • Supermaker aims to centralize entrepreneurial conversation and connect brand founders with the resources they need to realize their goals, whatever they may be. It specifically solves for deficiencies that the site’s founders experienced in their work in the consumer industry (they recently sold their all-natural deodorant brand, Schmidt’s Naturals to Unilever and founded an investment firm called Color in 2018 that funds women- and minority-led companies). It’s not clear whether all brands featured on Supermaker will be or are poised to receive investment from Color, though some companies have. Otherwise, its creators see the site as a bridge between companies and shareholders, retail buyers and consumers, allowing them to tell their stories, network and drive their businesses forward.
  • More interesting, however, is Supermaker’s positioning between paid and organic marketing. Supermaker responds to a pressing issue for brands today, which is how to spread awareness in the early days when media continues to maintain a narrow focus on big-name brands and retailers, costs rise on social media platforms and influencer partnerships become increasingly mundane. While the site’s creators see it as “a complement to the media that’s already out there,” Supermaker’s resonance depends on the right people knowing about it. Considering its founders say Supermaker is relevant to entrepreneurs, investors, shareholders, consumers, and retailers, it’s unclear how well the site will be able to act as a launchpad for new brands. At least for now, it’s straddling a networking site, an online magazine and an industry database, each of which already have many competitors.