The Grinds: Best Buy, other retailers crack down on returns, Duty-free airport retail thrives, ASOS stands out with its product descriptions, West Elm sells experiences with local artists

Best Buy and other retailers are cracking down on the number and frequency of returns, but are risking their customer relationships. To-the-point analysis about one of the four important stories from the week.   What happened Best…


As Facebook advertising costs rise, digitally-native brands turn to traditional advertising

A Warby Parker pamphlet arrives in the mail. A Glossier billboard hovers above Houston Street. Clones of an Away wheatpaste coat a construction barrier. A Stitch Fix TV ad blares from the television. For a generation of digitally-native brands,…


The Live Video Report

Social media is an increasingly important channel for brands and retailers to nurture customer relations and attract a broader consumer base, particularly as mobile devices flourish. The ascent of social media has also catalyzed the expansion of…


The Grinds: Target opens small-format stores, BuzzFeed adds new beauty and style vertical, JAB Holding Company conquers coffee, Glossier launches new pop-up

Target is the latest mass retailer to open small-format stores, whose focus on private label could help it provide even more differentiated products. To-the-point analysis about one of the five important stories from the week.  …


Dear Glossier: One Thing I Would Do

In relationship terms, if most brands are parents, their customers are children—a relationship that, at its core, is one-sided. Glossier has cultivated a brand-customer relationship more like that of two friends on equal footing—a dialogue. The…


The Grinds: Goop expands merchandise, Whole Foods raises rates for sellers, L. L. Bean updates return policy, Secondary sneaker market heats up, Macy’s launches new pop-up

Goop expands and diversifies G. Label merchandise, but questions of scalability loom To-the-point analysis about one of the five important stories from the week.   What happened Goop, which launched in 2008 as Gwyneth Paltrow’s…


The Full Price Report

Discount-heavy pricing strategies create long-term cycles of dependence that lead to promotion-addicted shoppers and lowered profit-margins—companies end up repeatedly undercutting themselves. Brands and retailers, therefore, are looking for ways to…


The Sales Associate and Stylist Report

Retailers are hurting, especially as shoppers buy more products online. But the sales associate role in this quandary receives less attention. As working in retail has developed from a career to a gig economy job, brands, retailers and customers are…


The internet was supposed to eliminate sales associates. Then it revitalized them.

As online sales rapidly increase, Amazon takes a bigger piece of the ecommerce pie, voice commerce and virtual reality appear imminent and subscription models are revitalized, why do sales associates need to be part of the shopping journey at all?…


The Gifting and Holiday Shopping Report

Although gift-giving is a global tradition that has been around for centuries, the practice has changed drastically since the 1800s—from a meaningful exchange of valuable goods to a commercially-driven social obligation centered around popular…


Courier: Emily Weiss: Glossier’s architect of content, community and commerce

Press commentary on Glossier's explosive growth in the beauty and cosmetics space. Read the full article. 


The Retail Revolution Report

What does physical retail look like in a world where tens of millions of products are readily available on the Internet? It no longer needs to be the only place where shoppers find, buy and receive products. This should free up companies to…


Building Bulletproof Brands — Part III: How networks and tokens could reshape the economics of physical goods brands

Part I of this series looked at the changing landscape of brand longevity and how the traditional formulas that used to make brands defensible are now obsolete. Part II proposed a new formula that harnesses networks as the only defensible moat…


Building Bulletproof Brands — Part II: Networks are the strongest moats for consumer goods brands

Part I explored how the internet fundamentally changed the playbook for building durable physical goods brands. Before the internet, mastering product, brand, distribution—signified as (product + brand + distribution)—was enough to make a brand…