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…


Drips and Drops — with Zak Normandin of Dirty Lemon

#96. Dirty Lemon quenches thirst with direct-to-consumer beverages. We talk with co-founder Zak Normandin about how the company uprooted the antiquated beverage industry to rapidly develop products and communicate with customers via text message.…


Macy’s should look at staffing as a profit center, not a cost center

As Macy’s looks to course correct after growing to over 175 million square feet of retail space and experiencing several years of falling sales, it’s reassessing its lower-performing stores and trying to reinvigorate it’s higher-performing ones.…


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…


Digiday: ‘A giant billboard for the company’: How digitally-native brands negotiate wholesale partnerships

Press commentary on how digitally-native brands are strategically striking wholesale partnerships.


The Grinds: Dollar Shave Club debuts fragrance, Dollar stores look to urban markets for expansion, Influencers become investors, Glossier opens flagship

Dollar Shave Club debuts fragrance in an attempt to differentiate from other digital-first men’s health brands. What happened Dollar Shave Club, the direct-to-consumer subscription razor brand founded in 2011, is expanding to a new category:…


Will the internet push consumer product margins to zero?

The internet opened the ecommerce floodgates, offering consumers exponentially more options. But with increased competition, retailers are attempting to gain market share in the short term by reducing prices—as their margins race toward zero.


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,…


Bootstrapped — with Paul Hedrick of Tecovas

#93. Tecovas is taking Westerns online with direct-to-consumer cowboy boots. We talk with founder Paul Hedrick about the innovations and challenges behind crafting and selling high-quality, timeless and affordable leather goods in the digital age.…


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…


Gut Feel — with Tom Patterson of Tommy John

#92. Tommy John doesn’t take underwear too seriously, as long as it moves with you. We talk with co-founder Tom Patterson about starting a wholesale-driven men’s basic brand and later maneuvering into direct-to-consumer and physical retail—all…


Short Stories — with Sam Alston of Big Lives

#91. Big Lives brings together emerging designers and showcases them in unique and ephemeral retail experiences. We talk with co-founder Sam Alston about applying the best lessons of customer relations to harness the power of high-touch and…


The Grinds: Macy’s and Revolve institutionalize influencer marketing, Re:Store merges affordable retail space with coworking, SoulCycle goes live, Ulta partners with men’s grooming brand Oars + Alps

Macy’s and Revolve graduate their influencer marketing strategies into more institutionalized forms. What happened Influencer marketing continues to blossom—in 2018, 84% of advertisers noted that influencers were included in their marketing…


Glossy: ‘A warning sign’: Why Henri Bendel lost its way in the changing retail world

Press commentary on the closure of legacy retailer Henri Bendel.


Kylie Cosmetics’ shift to Ulta and the online-only growth ceiling

There’s no mystery as to why Ulta wants to sell Kylie’s products. She created one of the fastest growing beauty brands with very wide appeal and exposure, and her products sit at an accessible price point, aligning with Ulta’s audience. The deal…


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…


Glossy: How Kendra Scott became a $1 billion business built on direct retail

Press commentary on brands' navigation between wholesale and direct-to-consumer channels.


The Grinds: Escape rooms blossom, PepsiCo acquires SodaStream, “Game of Thrones” fans take Croatia, Taubman Centers invests in mall of the future

Escape rooms blossom, but need to evolve beyond a fad to stay alive. What happened Escape rooms—curated sets where visitors are trapped and must solve puzzles to chart their “escape”—grew from about 24 locations in the U.S. in 2014 to more than…


The Grinds: JCPenney banks on babies; Malls house digitally-native brands, coworking offices; Casper plans for 200 stores; VF ditches denim

JCPenney banks on babies, but seizing Toys R Us’ market share continues to ignore the company’s endemic problems. What happened JCPenney is opening 500 baby shops in its department stores, sweeping up market share from the liquidation of Toys R Us…


Nike, Disney and the shift to a direct-to-consumer business

While the emergency of direct-to-consumer brands has been well—if not overly—chronicled, people have paid less attention to wholesale-driven businesses shifting to direct-to-consumer. These changes are occurring across many industries, but consumer…


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: Walmart is incubating an Everlane-like private label, CVS embraces K-beauty, Equinox turns to employees for brand promotion, Van Leeuwen raises minority investment

Walmart is incubating an Everlane-like private-label brand—should Everlane worry? What happened Walmart’s new brand is allegedly inspired by Everlane—the minimalist “essentials” brand for women’s apparel and accessories—but will aim to reel in…


Circle of Life — with Ariane Goldman of HATCH

#79. HATCH is a maternity brand that serves women before, during and after pregnancy. We talk with founder Ariane Goldman about creating apparel that celebrates fashion and comfort equally and how HATCH is forging a community for women in its retail…


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.


The Grinds: Disney and Muji launch immersive experiences, Aday grows “wear-testers” program, Peloton acquires Neurotic Media, WeWork debuts retail market

Disney brings Star Wars to Hollywood Studios and Muji opens more hotels, inviting visitors to live in their brands. What happened A little over a month after debuting Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios Park, Disney is bringing Star Wars: Galaxy’s…


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…


Dear Triple Five Group: One Thing I Would Do

As Triple Five Group works toward the opening of American Dream Miami, you’re riding the success of your other mall properties, including Mall of America—a trailblazer in unifying theme parks with retail. Your new venture will be the biggest mall in…


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…


The many sides to plus-size: Good American, Reformation and Dia & Co.’s attempts to reach an underserved market

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…


The Grinds: JAB expands its food and beverage empire, The NFL and Nike team up with Fanatics, Tiffany & Co. revives its retail, SoulCycle makes U-turn from IPO

JAB expands its food and beverage empire with Pret a Manger while Nestlé sheds U.S. candy brands. What happened JAB Holding Company, which owns food and beverage brands including Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Panera Bread Co., Keurig Green Mountain and…


Joy Bomb — with Natalie Mackey of Winky Lux

#73. Winky Lux is a quickly growing beauty brand built around accessible and fun products. We talk with co-founder Natalie Mackey, who started the company after realizing the mass market opportunity around drugstore-priced cosmetics that embody…


The Grinds: Comme des Garçons names direct-to-consumer brand, Walmart and eBay personalize shopping, Saks and Barneys strive to stay relevant, Target adds new digital beauty services

Comme des Garçons launches CDG, taking on a new challenge: direct-to-consumer ecommerce. What happened In the lead up to the launch of CDG in July, Comme des Garçons is launching CDG Breaking News this May as a capsule collection teaser. The CDG…


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…


Disney World: How Disney used entertainment and hospitality to build an ecosystem, both online and offline

“Lifestyle brand” is a buzzword that has lost meaning in the consumer economy. Either imposed or self-ascribed, companies with the label use it as a justification for their ambition to become much more than a brand, but a way of life. Some are…


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 will sell an Echo Dot for kids, raise its annual Prime membership fee, stream Thursday Night Football, double its credit line, sell Chico’s apparel; Amazon is attempting to win over HQ2 finalists and growing its retail business with profits from AWS and advertising; Private equity firms want to consolidate top Amazon sellers

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon will begin selling the Echo Dot Kids Edition in May 2018—a smaller device with a protective case, two-year warranty, and a year of the FreeTime Unlimited Family Plan, including child-oriented…


The Grinds: Toy retailers seek gains from Toys R Us’ bankruptcy, Fraud-detecting services vet online shoppers, The Wing ushers in a new era of retail real estate, Beauty buffs and sneakerheads form social channels

Big toy retailers like Hasbro and Mattel and independent toy stores hope to gain market share from Toys R Us’ bankruptcy, but Amazon and its competitors may beat them to it. What happened In the wake of Toys R Us’ bankruptcy, toy manufacturers…


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,…


Game-Day Retail: Inside the sports brands and venues that are providing the products and services fans already want

Today, a number of brands and retailers are entering the sports industry, disrupting long-term economic models to make it easier for fans to rep their team spirit. Rep the Squad, for example, is using a rental subscription model to provide fans…


Upgrades, Not Concessions: Inside the movie theaters rebranding their real estate and cinema experiences

Paradoxically, and despite the increasing relevance of experience-based consumerism, movie theaters are struggling in the face of the rising video streaming economy. Between 2016 and 2017, gross box office revenue declined from $11.38 billion to $11…


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…


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…


Playbook: How to embed your company in the experience economy

As consumers increasingly spend on experiences, often at the expense of physical products, brands, retailers and real estate professionals must shift their priorities to stake out new relevance in this economy, whether they supplement an experience,…


Liveable Brands: Inside the companies that are entering the hospitality industry

Though many brands boast to be “lifestyle brands,” few are accomplishing the feat as successfully as the those taking on the hospitality industry. With their strong brand identities, West Elm, a furniture and home goods brand, and Equinox, a luxury…


Captive Retail: Inside the cruises and theme parks that are evolving retail to drive sales

As both destinations and experiences, Disney’s theme parks and cruise companies such as Starboard Cruise Services are focusing on experience-oriented retail. These companies often utilize radio-frequency identification (RFID) wristbands, which house…


Baggage Claim: Inside the airports and private aviation companies making air travel a shoppable and personalized event

Airports boast some of the most high density foot traffic each day—in 2017, an average of 213,668 flyers passed through London Heathrow each day, totalling 78 million over the course of the year. As mall foot traffic decreases, brands and retailers…


In Transit(ion): Inside the consumer brands that are capitalizing on the travel industry

As the experience economy grows—the travel and tourism industry now comprises one-tenth of global GDP—brands that sell travel-specific products are re-orienting themselves to be more than just consumer goods vendors. Whether a brand is building a…


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,…