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Fast or Frivolous? How consumer brands are evolving, accelerating and evaporating, our flagship report from 2017, charted the rapid changes—but also continuity—that the internet brought to the consumer economy. Pre-internet, the playbook for consumer brands remained largely static, with incremental improvements, but the digital revolution gave rise to a new flurry of activity and distribution methods.

But even though the landscape changed, the fundamental process of doing “good business” did not—in effect, many digitally-native brands grew too fast and spent too much, some shuttering, while others continue to struggle to stay afloat or find suitable exits that make money for everyone involved in the business.

2018 has been one of the more transformational years in the consumer economy, largely affirming the path Fast or Frivolous 2017 anticipated brands to follow. First, while the rise of new digitally-native brands has not slowed, more are diversifying their channels into offline spaces. Taking on a multi-channel sales strategy in which ecommerce, retail and wholesale all play a role, we saw the peak of digitization in 2017. As more traditional brands devote greater attention to selling direct-to-consumer, the landscape will grow more uniform brands increasingly form multi-channel businesses, regardless of whether a brand started online or offline.

Fast or Frivolous 2018 is both a follow-up to our flagship report—a continued exploration of what 19 of the brands featured last year and others have faced over the course of 2018—and now an ongoing annual survey of the consumer brand landscape. This section accompanies:

See the Insight Collection to glean more lessons from 2018’s consumer developments and how 19 brands navigated these changes.

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