Fast or Frivolous 2018: How have rising digital marketing costs evolved the brand’s channel strategy?

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…


Fast or Frivolous 2018: How has the brand evolved its channel strategy between wholesale, owned retail and most recently ecommerce to drive global, sustainable growth?

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…


PrimeTime: Amazon will open holiday pop-ups in Europe, launch a new delivery program for the season, mail its first printed toy catalog

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon will open electronic- and toy-centric pop-ups in Europe for the holiday season, deemed “Amazon Loft for Xmas.” The stores will be in operation from November 16 to 26 in Amsterdam, Berlin,…


The Grinds: Facebook opens pop-ups at Macy’s, Masse monetizes moms, Peloton threatens SoulCycle, Wayfair acquires new customers

Facebook opens pop-ups at Macy’s, bringing the shoppability of Instagram offline. What happened Facebook will debut pop-ups at nine Macy’s department stores for the holiday season. In operation until February 2019, the pop-ups will feature more…


Artistic License — with Tze Chun of Uprise Art

#95. Uprise Art revolutionizes art collecting and discovery for the digital age. We talk with founder Tze Chun about how she built an online-first gallery that connects emerging artists with collectors. The Loose Threads Podcast features in-depth…


What’s the goal of CDG, Comme des Garçons first D2C brand?

Last week Comme des Garçons launched CDGCDGCDG.com, the ecommerce site for its first direct-to-consumer-only label CDG. (When the brand was first announced, it was called CDGCDGCDG, now shortened to CDG.) Comme built itself as an 17-label brand…


PrimeTime: Amazon shoppers receive free shipping, Kohl’s collaborates with Amazon, Most Amazon Go stores close during the weekend, CVS and Uber create Prime-like memberships, HQ2 will allegedly be split in Arlington, Virigina and Queens, New York

The latest news on everything Amazon   All U.S. Amazon shoppers will receive free shipping for the holiday season, regardless of Prime membership. (Non-Prime members typically must spend $25 to get free shipping.) The company also…


Global Roots — with Carmen Tal of Moroccanoil

#94. Moroccanoil took a single product and gave it a global footprint. We talk with co-founder Carmen Tal about how she popularized oil-based hair care through traditional distribution methods after making a discovery of her own. The Loose Threads…


The Grinds: Sweetgreen aims for $1 billion valuation; Shopify courts larger vendors; Banana Republic launches Cos Bar shop-in-shop; End Clothing, The Line invent the new department store

Sweetgreen aims to become a $1 billion salad empire, but will have to scale sustainably to maintain its image. What happened Sweetgreen, the fast-casual salad chain founded in 2007, has grown to approximately 90 locations across California,…


The Grinds: Pinterest strives to make pins more shoppable, Sunday Riley receives criticism for fake reviews, RSE Ventures is creating an empire, Patagonia gets political

Pinterest strives to make pins more shoppable, and its advertising business more profitable. What happened Pinterest users that click on a home- or style-related pin—that is, an image with a description and link to the original online source, the…


Kylie Cosmetics and the industry’s quest to decipher its growth

In Part II of our ongoing series on Kylie Cosmetics, we wrote about the recent announcement that the brand would start selling in Ulta this holiday season. We concluded that while the move is clearly beneficial for Ulta, it exposes the potential…


The hypocrisy of philanthropy: Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos’ great fortunes and delayed charity

In today’s hyper-globalized and -politicized world, more consumer product companies are seeking to align with initiatives that ameliorate society and the world, either at inception or later in their life cycle. Whether environmental sustainability,…


PrimeTime: Amazon debuts Storefronts, French retailer Monoprix offers Prime delivery, Merch by Amazon revs up fast fashion, Amazon plans to launch more Alexa devices

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon debuted Storefronts, a section of its site that will feature products from approximately 20,000 small- and medium-sized businesses, shoppable via 25 product verticals. The page displays videos…


PrimeTime: Amazon launched Amazon Advertising, plans to open Amazon Go in New York; J.Crew will sell J.Crew Mercantile on Amazon, Amazon’s smaller vendors are beginning to divert products to other ecommerce platforms

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon launched Amazon Advertising, replacing Amazon Marketing Services, though the products and services offered remain the same. The rebrand emerges at a time when Amazon’s advertising business is…


The Grinds: Starbucks attempts to win over Italy, Ritual fails to live up to transparency claims, Mattel launches film division, Instagram may launch a separate shopping app

Starbucks attempts to win over Italy, opening a roastery in Milan. What happened Thirty-five years ago—long before becoming Starbucks’ CEO—Howard Schultz, then a marketing director for the brand, visited Milan and returned transfixed by the idea of…


The Grinds: FAO Schwarz makes a comeback, Hims takes on Hers, Zalando builds a brand with a music festival, Tiffany & Co. banks on flagship

FAO Schwarz will make its comeback in Rockefeller Center as toy retailers scrape up Toys R Us’ debris. What happened FAO Schwarz closed its Manhattan flagship back in 2015. This November, it’s returning with a 20,000 square foot location in…


PrimeTime: Amazon plans to launch TiVo competitor, offer music streaming via Alexa, make voice shopping easier, debuted its first vans for its Delivery Service Program, may acquire Landmark Theaters

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon has plans to create a TiVo competitor, which will record live streamed video that can be played on smartphones. The device will connect to Amazon’s Fire TVs and would store video locally. At…


PrimeTime: Prime members gain curbside Whole Foods pickup; Alexa-enabled shopping hasn’t caught on; Walmart facilitates easier ecommerce returns; Amazon looks to expand sports content, experiments with video ads on mobile

The latest news on everything Amazon   Prime members now have access to curbside pickup at Whole Foods. To utilize the service, Prime members can shop Whole Foods on the Prime Now app or site and retrieve their order as early as an hour…


Small Footprint, Big Steps — with Barry Beck of Bluemercury

#83. Bluemercury took cosmetics out of department stores, pioneering small-format beauty retail. We talk with co-founder Barry Beck about starting the company with his wife Marla and navigating through various retail cycles to grow their business to…


The Grinds: IKEA downsizes and digitizes, The RealReal raises $115 million, Disney and 21st Century Fox strike merger, A Ma Maniére fuses streetwear with hospitality

IKEA downsizes and digitizes to retain its hold on young clientele. What happened Since 2015, IKEA has opened 24 small format stores—an average of 9,700 square feet, compared to its traditional 82,000 square foot warehouses. Customers aren’t able…


The Grinds: Ipsy unveils members-only beauty ecommerce site, Boutique and vintage vendors turn to Instagram, Retailers invite brands to advertise with package inserts, MoviePass acquires Moviefone

Ipsy, queen of the beauty subscription box, unveils Shopper, a members-only, direct-to-consumer site. What happened Ipsy, a subscription service that began in 2011, sends members Glam Bags, which include a personalized bounty of five full- and/or…


PrimeTime: Amazon holds 49% of ecommerce market share, Target debuts one-day sale to compete with Prime Day, Walmart will use Microsoft’s cloud computing technology, Sonos is going public and highlighting partnership with Alexa

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon now holds 49% of the ecommerce market, miles away from eBay’s 6.6% and Walmart’s 3.7%. The company exercised this muscle on July 16-17 for Prime Day, which saw 54% more sales in the first four…


Does Amazon understand customer experience more than most brands?

More than 50% of product searches now begin on Amazon. This week we wrote about how the company has won over consumers' wallets by prioritizing convenience and functionality over design—and what other brands should do about it.


Less is more: How companies are controlling supply while maximizing demand in a digital and physical world

Scarcity is a powerful psychological force. It compels consumers to change their behavior while simultaneously raising the value of products and services. However, putting locational, temporal or inventory limitations in place may seem contrarian at…


Location, location, location: How brands built on geographic scarcity irreproducibility are defensible in a digital world

Scarcity is a powerful psychological force. It compels consumers to change their behavior while simultaneously raising the value of products and services. However, putting locational, temporal or inventory limitations in place may seem contrarian at…


Do DNVBs exist anymore? Revisiting the buzzword

Andy Dunn coined the term DNVB—digitally-native vertical brand—in 2016. The clearest possible reading of the addition of the word “vertical” is that it means “control,” akin to the idea of vertical integration, in which a company controls various…


The Grinds: Goop answers pseudoscience criticism, UPS looks to automation, #MeToo jeans reprise the accessible feminism debate, Disney launches attraction previews

Goop answers pseudoscience criticism by coming clean about its product benefits. What happened After growing a business by amassing a devoted following of customers who believed in product benefits not necessarily backed by science—and receiving…


Dear Hollar: One Thing I Would Do

When shoppers surf the Hollar site or app today, they can choose from thousands of products, filling up their carts with items from beauty to snacks, party supplies to toiletries, at an average of $2 to $5 dollars per SKU. Maybe while scrolling…


Playbook: How to promote and indoctrinate inclusivity into your brand

Though the number of brands has mushroomed since the digital boom, the vast majority of new brands are founded in coastal urban areas like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The specificity of their geography and the values and ideas that…


PrimeTime: Amazon Channels reigns over television subscriptions; Amazon upgrades its beauty shopping experience, will launch the Marketplace Appstore for sellers, is closing customer accounts because of returns; Whole Foods tests a store-in-a-store housewares concept, Acer’s new laptops are integrated with Alexa

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon Channels continues to take more of the television subscriptions pie from TV networks. The service, which allows Prime customers to purchase streaming subscriptions to television channels is now…


The Grinds: Bulletin opens its third New York store, Aesop expands its retail footprint, Shopify moves offline, Walmart will sell Harry’s razors

Bulletin is opening its third New York store, continuing its quest to champion women in business. Bulletin, which began as an online magazine in 2014 featuring digitally-native women-led brands, will open its third flagship store in the historic…


Dear Ulta Beauty: One Thing I Would Do

Ulta continues to expand its brand selection, often testing new brands online or at a small number of brick-and-mortar locations first, before scaling the offering. This worked wonders for MAC Cosmetics—Ulta’s most successful ecommerce launch…


Agency — with Tony King of King and Partners

#71. King & Partners is a creative and technology agency that works with leading brands. We talk with founder Tony King about his long career in helping brands embrace ecommerce and what it’s like working with a new crop of brands while maintaining…


The Grinds: Instagram launches in-app payments, Sephora opens its second Studio, Online returns are hurting landlords, Birchbox sells a majority stake to one of its investors

Instagram launches in-app payments for select brands, which could substantially increase its share of commerce. What happened For the in-app payments, an extension of Facebook Payments, Instagram allows users to create a profile that includes their…


PrimeTime: Amazon is using 3D body scanning to collect data to grow its apparel business, halted its expansion in Seattle, added a children’s book subscription to Prime, launched a new private-label pet brand called Wag

The latest news on everything Amazon   As its apparel retail business grows, Amazon’s 3D body scanning department will collect data on how body size and shape changes over time. The company acquired a startup called Body Labs in 2017 that…


PrimeTime: Amazon Key delivers to cars; Walmart’s online grocery program improvements are paying off; Amazon gives Best Buy exclusive rights to sell Fire TVs, inked live video game deal with the NBA, may surpass Walmart as top U.S. apparel retailer; Home Depot amps up tech team to compete with Amazon

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon Key now delivers packages to customers’ cars—an additional service to the Key program, which also drops off packages inside of Prime Members’ homes with the help of an internet-connected door…


PrimeTime: Amazon expands Prime Wardrobe, braces itself for new state taxes, outpaces Best Buy as top electronics retailer; Amazon Echo partners with home builders; Amazon Fuse will expand the company’s media ecosystem; Walmart may buy stake in Flipkart

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon will allow more Prime members to access the Prime Wardrobe program, which lets shoppers try on clothes before paying for them. Prime Wardrobe—which has yet to officially launch and serves…


The Grinds: Walmart plans to redesign site, Click-to-buy morphs into click-to-buy-and-make, b8ta expands “retail as a service,” Domino’s delivers to customers en route

Walmart is making its website more sleek, but where does that leave Jet? What happened Walmart, which continues to devote more resources to its ecommerce operation, plans to debut a resigned website that spotlights its higher-end brands and…


Playbook: How to capitalize on the intersection of commerce and culture in an on-demand world

Despite the prowess of the experience economy, even the brands, retailers and real estate professionals involved in the music, entertainment and sports industries are up against vast changes affecting their foot traffic and sales. Paradoxically,…


The Grinds: Nordstrom opens first standalone men’s store, LVMH launches luxury startup accelerator, Warby Parker must meet investors’ expectations, USV invests in livestream marketplace ShopShops

Nordstrom opens its first standalone men’s store, relying on data to cultivate its foray into New York City. What happened Nordstrom’s first standalone men’s store—and first store in New York—will open this Thursday in Manhattan. The store enters…


PrimeTime: Amazon grows its private-label presence; U.S. warehouses unfit for ecommerce fulfillment; Amazon wants Alexa to compete with Venmo; Walmart continues to compete with Amazon via price matching, pickup kiosks and healthcare; Amazon’s R&D expenses surpass those of all other U.S. companies

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon now has over 70 active private-label brands on its platform. The majority of these brands emerged in 2017, though the company began testing its private-label products in 2009. These brands and…


PrimeTime: Whole Foods may offer discount to Prime members; Amazon Video falls behind Netflix, YouTube and Hulu; Amazon launches Home Assistants; Trump may seek to regulate Amazon; Amazon Spark is failing, Amazon is collecting state sales tax, but leaving out cities

The latest news on everything Amazon   Whole Foods may offer Prime members a 10% discount, based on signs advertising the offer were seen in the grocery chain’s flagship Austin store. Since the Amazon acquisition, benefits to Whole Foods…


The Grinds: Build-A-Bear thrives—Toys R Us dies, Adore Me to open stores near Victoria’s Secret, New York City devises retail vacancy tax for landlords, Goop raises $50 million

Build-A-Bear thrives —Toys R Us dies. To-the-point analysis about one of the four important stories from the week.   What happened Build-A-Bear has posted four consecutive years of profitability and remains debt free in an era when…


Squad Goals — with Brian Watkins of Rep the Squad

On the 65th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast, a show about the rapidly changing consumer economy, we talk with Brian Watkins, the co-founder and CEO of Rep the Squad, which lets passionate sports fans rent any jersey they want, giving them…


The Grinds: Ulta Beauty will begin selling Chanel Beauté, Nordstrom family ends buyout effort, ThredUp wants to create a consignment ecosystem, Google launches new advertising program online with its AI assistant

Ulta Beauty will begin selling Chanel Beauté—a coveted and surprising addition to the beauty retailer that mixes high and low. To-the-point analysis about one of the four important stories from the week.   What happened Ulta Beauty,…


Glossy: The forces working against contemporary fashion

Press commentary on the consolidation of the luxury industry and what this means for mid-tier brands.


PrimeTime: Amazon.com lockers at Whole Foods lead to more short-term grocery visits; Amazon may have its sights set on Toys R Us real estate; Executives leave Whole Foods; Whole Foods lays off regional marketing staff; Majority of Amazon shoppers don’t notice ads

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon.com lockers, which are installed at over 75 Whole Foods locations, allow Amazon customers to pick up their packages in a secure location. This leading to more short-term visits and impulse…


Blazers of Glory — with Jack Carlson of Rowing Blazers

#63. Rowing Blazers brings all the quirks of a blazer to life, quickly growing into a Supreme-meets-Brooks Brothers lifestyle brand. We talk with Founder Jack Carlson, about how the company sprung out of his rowing career and his years-long quest to…