1) Kohl’s introduced digitally-native brands to its beauty aisle—a move that could drive holiday sales but overlooks the retailer’s more substantial problems.

WHAT HAPPENED: Kohl’s launched Beauty Checkout, a quarterly rotation of 13 digitally-native beauty and wellness brands, available in 200 stores and online. The retailer partnered with Facebook and Instagram to determine which brands to include in this program.

WHY IT MATTERS

  • Kohl’s wants Beauty Checkout to inspire discovery and a sense of newness; however, more products could add to Kohl’s over-crowded sales floor. If Kohl’s introduces new products to its assortment, it needs to reevaluate what it currently sells and be sure it represents a balance of both legacy players and newness. Kohl’s customers are likely interested in discovery, but many consumers might flock to Kohl’s to buy their favorite brands. It will take time and focus to convince customers to try a digitally-native brand that they haven’t heard of before.
  • Beauty Counter won’t help Kohl’s stand out among the competition. Nordstrom, Target, and JCPenny have all launched similar initiatives around promoting digitally-native brands in-store. Beauty giants Sephora and Ulta have created beauty incubator programs, making it especially tricky for Kohl’s Beauty Counter to stand out this holiday season. Macy’s similarly partnered with Facebook last year for its “Market @ Macy’s” pop-up. While new brands have emerged since last year, the new initiative might not excite consumers the way that Kohl’s anticipates since it’s far from a first-mover. Kohl’s should determine what private-label products it could introduce to enhance its beauty assortment and deliver a better profit margin, relying on the time-tested tools a multi-brand retailer has at its disposal.

2) Walmart will deliver groceries directly to your fridge—a program that commoditizes White-Glove Service for all consumers.

WHAT HAPPENED: Walmart launched InHome, a grocery membership program where a Walmart employee will bring groceries inside a customer’s home and unpack them. The program has a monthly fee of $19.95, with an upfront cost of $49.95 for the required smart door lock kit. Members will receive free installation and a free month of groceries upon sign-up. Walmart is currently piloting the program in Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Vero Beach.

WHY IT MATTERS

  • Walmart’s InHome service is a promising evolution of the Last Mile delivery, a win for both Walmart and consumers. Members enjoy fast and convenient delivery while Walmart mitigates costs by delivering goods directly from its stores to the customer’s home. Walmart’s struggling, text-based personal concierge service Jetblack operates contrary to InHome’s concept. Jetblack currently services 600 members in the New York area, with a waiting list of over 1,000 people, but it doesn’t pull from its own inventory, which is why the service is losing $15,000 a month, per member. InHome is a much better model that can be scaled and used more widely.
  • Walmart checked every box to make InHome as safe and attainable as possible. While Amazon has developed Amazon Key to deliver items inside of a customer’s home, Walmart’s technology incorporates the human touch. As InHome expands, technological glitches and customer service issues are bound to emerge. But if Walmart continues to roll out the delivery program slowly and strategically, the retailer might have cracked the code for affordable White-Glove grocery delivery.

3) The Children’s Place will relaunch Gymboree, but applying the same old playbook won’t ensure success in today’s competitive landscape.

WHAT HAPPENED: The Children’s Place paid $76 million for the rights associated with both Gymboree and its Crazy 8 brand after it filed for bankruptcy in January. At the time, Gymboree had 800 locations, all of which closed. The Children’s Place will reopen Gymboree’s stores and its website in 2020 and will add Gymboree shop-in-shops to 200 of its locations.

WHY IT MATTERS

  • The Children’s Place’s plan for Gymboree doesn’t address the problems that led it to file for bankruptcy in the first place. Gymboree attributed its bankruptcy in 2018 to consumer behavior shifting away from mall shopping. But the brand’s fleet of over-inventoried stores nationwide were significant factors that contributed to it filing its second bankruptcy in  two years. The plan to revive Gymboree with the same number of stores, an updated website, and rewards program isn’t enough to guarantee success in today’s children’s market.
  • The Children’s Place needs to positioning itself for tomorrow, not yesterday. It’s unclear if Gymboree’s brand name still resonates with today’s parents. Based on its recent bankruptcy, it’s likely that Gymboree shop-in-shops won’t add value to The Children’s Place stores. Instead, The Children’s Place should focus on adopting Gymboree as a private label with an enhanced value proposition, which would allow the brand could better compete with its competition while minemizing its massive retail footprint.

4) LVMH invested in Madhappy, a Gen Z streetwear brand, signaling a transformation away from exclusivity for luxury fashion conglomerates.

WHAT HAPPENED: LVMH’s venture group invested $1.5 million in Madhappy, a two-year-old streetwear brand that was created by four founders in their early twenties. Tommy Hilfiger and the founders of Sweetgreen also invested in the startup. Madhappy products include $160 hoodies, $140 sweatpants, and $70 T-shirts.

WHY IT MATTERS

  • LVMH’s interest in Madhappy proves that the future of luxury involves inclusivity and community. Madhappy has differentiated itself from most streetwear brands through its commitment to mental health and gender fluidity. Both subjects are top of mind right now, but there are few apparel brands with this platform that attract LVMH’s attention. Madhappy is one of the smallest brands that LVMH has invested in, with only $1 million in sales. It’s clear that LVMH sees the long term benefits of a streetwear brand with a strong message and thinks it can help the brand scale quickly.
  • Madhappy’s growth is the result of brand power linked to celebrity endorsements. Just one month after its launch, celebrities like Cardi B and Sofia Richie posted about the brand on social media. And through star-studded pop-up events, disguised as parties, Madhappy developed a strong following and built its community organically. LVMH’s interest in Madhappy and the conglomerate’s partnerships with Rihanna show that LVMH is looking to collaborate with celebrities going forward but in less linear ways.