1) With half of Mars’ business stemming from pet care, the candy company continues to incubate and acquire new wellness and health brands to increase sales from $35 to $70 billion.

Why it matters

  • Mars has tapped into the $86 billion U.S. pet market and the $54.8 billion North American wellness industry. This will be increasingly important to keeping the 107-year-old company growing as consumers remain skeptical about sugar.
  • Though they appear incongruous, both pet products like Whiskas cat food and confections like Twix are sold at supermarkets, as are healthy candy alternatives like CocaVia, which means that Mars isn’t selling in unknown territory—it’s just enhancing its relevance to shoppers with a wider assortment of products. Though many holding companies grow through acquisitions, Mars Edge, the company’s brand incubator, is a sign that it is looking to innovate internally, rather than just tack on new brands to its ecosystem.
  • This may help Mars avoid the struggles of fellow candy company Nestlé, which sold Butterfinger, Laffy Taffy, Raisinets and other brands in 2018—all of which amounted to only 3% of sales—in order to reorient its business to focus on coffee products that better match consumer interests. Procter & Gamble is also trying to avoid this fate by going into bug spray.

2) Crate & Barrel opens a restaurant at its Chicago store—a strategy it may bring to other locations in order to increase traffic.

Why it matters

  • Furniture retailers, whose stores have a large square footage, are taking on a variety of approaches to lure in customers in the age of ecommerce. Wayfair, for example, decided to open a store in its warehouse. Crate & Barrel’s strategy, like that of ABC Carpet and Home aims to simultaneously create destinations out of its stores and increase engagement through shoppable experiences between the brand and its shoppers.
  • However, Crate & Barrel differs significantly from ABC Carpet and Home in terms price point. Serving the middle range raises questions about “The Table at Crate,” which is likely somewhere between a high-end dining spot such as Tiffany & Co.’s new Blue Box Café and IKEA’s cafeteria. How Crate & Barrel curates its dining experience will reflect not only whether customers come back, but also impact how consumers view its products during the meal.

3) Girlboss launches a professional networking service for millennial women, but increasingly competes with Bumble.

Why it matters

  • Girlboss follows other brands, including Bumble and the Wing, in the attempt to create products for women and female empowerment. In contrast to the dating app and the coworking space, Girlboss started as a media company that now has a well-known events series, Girlboss Rallies.
  • But as all three have diversified their products and services in the quest to become ecosystems in their own right—Bumble has a professional networking service and will allegedly sell beauty products, the Wing partnered on a capsule collection with HBO for the newest season of “Big Little Lies”—they are taking on vastly different retail ventures with diverging revenue models, including subscription services, merchandise sales and ticketed events.
  • These companies are also increasingly competing with one another, which puts their businesses at risk in the long run, considering their underlying shared mission to empower women. With Girlboss’ expertise on events, the Wing’s dominance in the coworking space and Bumble’s networking skills and tech platform, collaboration between their companies might be able to more effectively advance their common agenda, while striking more sustainable businesses. At the same time, news that reveals an internal company culture at odds with female empowerment—such as this exposé on Bumble’s co-founder—will hurt the authenticity of these brands, as well as their ability to remain competitive.

4) Net-a-Porter debuts invite-only jewelry service, EIP Privé, built on loyalty and luxury.

Why it matters

  • Selling jewelry online is one of the more difficult feats, particularly for ecommerce businesses. While Net-a-Porter launched fine jewelry and watches in 2018, the debut of EIP Privé suggests that a regular ecommerce experience isn’t enough to get its shoppers—with an average age of 38 and a household income of $170,000—interested.
  • As of writing, Net-a-Porter has not highlighted its new jewelry category in any of its marketing emails since launching last week, according to the Q3 2019 Megaphone Report—a testament to its focus on exclusivity and customization, not only through an invitation-based service, but also through its offering of one-of-a-kind SKUs and items that until now were only available offline.
  • While various direct-to-consumer brands have cropped up to sell jewelry products at an accessible price, including AUrate and Rocksbox, many have struggled in the face of falling online jewelry sales. Net-a-Porter’s gamble is that by selling a luxury experience, which it has used to cultivate trust and loyalty among its shoppers in the past, it will gain traction in this premium category.