We Were Featured in the New Yorker!

It’s not often I can comment on a well written industry relevant story where we are the main part of the story. Enjoy the read even if it finishes with a bit of the “New Yorker” echo chamber view of the world. The reality is that our part of the “highway” is always at risk from over regulation and unfair tax policies that challenge entrepreneurial companies disproportionately than our larger established competitors. But that’s the best part of the American highway…You can always move!

Read the Full New Yorker article written by Adam Davidson HERE.

 

 

 

Just Another Brick in the Wal…..

While Wal-Mart was busy getting hip buying Jet.com, Amazon was getting serious and just announced that it is offering air freight services to its sellers based in China. Think of this as the penultimate direct to consumer structure ever. Wal-Mart is still the king but this does not bode well.

The new battlefield is digital and like all battles it’s not the glorious stories on page one that mean victory. Similar to real wars, it’s superior logistics that win but to find this you have to dig into the WSJ story on page B4  with no photo announcing the new service.

This is a game changer for all who sell wholesale products. Imagine that today your factory in China now has a direct link to your customer’s home or business WITH EFFICIENT Amazon built end to end logistics. That’s a real “Jet”.

Automaticity – My Favorite Word of the Day Beats New and Improved?

How much of our time is spent thinking how to improve our company’s offerings? We update labels, fragrances, and even names of items on a regular basis. Are we wrong to obsess?

According to one of my heroes, the former P&G CEO A.G. Lafley, we are on dangerous ground.  In an intriguing Harvard Business Review article, he discusses why consumer innovations often “flame out”. His answer, based on recent advances in brain science, is that “…the mind loves automaticity more than just about anything else-certainly more than engaging in conscious consideration.”  Or in English, “Customers don’t want to spend the mental energy needed to choose between products.”

When innovating a product and brand, a progression from the past is always better than a break from the past. Poster child of how not to make this change is Instagram’s changed icon and how Facebook destroyed MySpace.  The article also has a very interesting sub section on small brands (could be us except we dominate our retail channels with two channel focused mega-brands). It’s titled, The Perverse Upside of Customer Disloyalty.  Basically, it says that the market for most product categories is large enough to support a small brand that consumers occasionally purchase when confused or not loyal to the leading brands. They try the fringe brands to which keeps them in the market, but not enough return to help them break through.

So don’t engage in automaticity and read the article!

You Are What You Eat! Food and Beauty Converge Beyond Supplements

In a perfectly headlined story called Beauty Bites, Women’s Wear Daily writes, “Beauty companies are marketing foods the same way they sell concoctions to boost skin radiance. The result is a new category: beauty foods.”  And it’s not just natural and organic products. Even Perricone is launching a “Hydrogen” water. The price points are extreme with items selling at $70 per unit, or in the case of the water, at $3.00 per can or $29 “bars”.  Burt’s Bees just launched a protein powder including one for “healthy radiance” at a $29 price point. Not exactly priced for mass, but stay tuned.

This is a taste of the future. It’s only a matter of time before a Dove Bar ice cream and a Dove face cream make similar claims. Many successful personal care brands will find they have easy extensions into performance oriented foods. So sip your detox tea and feel the glow from the inside out while you leverage that brand equity!

Mirror Mirror on the iPhone…

Housewares is not a consumer category that screams for technology, but sometimes a company breaks through with design that stands out for both form and function. Recently a company called Simple Human planted its flag in the housewares section. Their slogan is, “we design tools that help people become more efficient at home.”

With well thought out garbage cans, auto dispensing liquid soap machines, and the best personal makeup mirror in the market, they are the leader in blending technology with the every day tools of the kitchen and bathroom.  My favorite is their makeup mirror. With LED lighting that can be set via your phone to mimic lighting conditions of an office or a restaurant, a woman (excuse the transition) or a man, can see how their face looks under the varied light conditions of the day or evening.

Sadly I need something that does not exactly replicate the middle age face I’ve caught staring at me some mornings, but that may be a technology too far away!

Basket Analysis With Food Stamps

I love to look at other peoples shopping carts and baskets when I’m in any retailer. It’s a sneak peak into the holy grail of consumer insight. The NYT had a fascinating article about food stamp users basket analysis published by the Department of Agriculture. SNAP, run by the Department of Agriculture, is a 74 BILLION dollar program with 43 million users. That’s more than 13% of the American population and even more of the households. Digest those numbers in the context of 320 million Americans and 120 million households.

The main point of the story is that 9% of the spending in these households is on soda. Or as they put it… it’s a 7 billion dollar subsidy of the soda industry combined with the after effects of the effect of obesity on our nation’s healthcare costs. The article then barely notes that non-snap households essentially buy the same basket.

But I’m not in the soda industry and the real interesting read is the report itself with lots of “nuggets” around American eating habits: https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/foods-typically-purchased-supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap-households

Oh HAPPI Day!

The Woman’s Wear Daily of the American Laundry industry is a magazine called HAPPI. Industry gossip mixed with facts and a bit of fiction, keeps us updated with trends in our clean, but never too dry industry. I had the pleasure of being quoted in a recent story on the growth of laundry unit dose product. I could not have put forth my market thesis on the future of laundry any better! Enjoy the read and of course you too can buy our Wash’N Go product on Jet.com. Enjoy!

Our New Advertising Campaign

It’s not easy selling to the mass market. After 15 years of seriously sweating to grow, we finally achieved number one status (along with two and three) in the value market. Power Stick in body wash, body spray and antiperspirant/deodorant dominates the value retail channel. But we have lots of room to grow with new items and some new customers. So this year we launched our newest trade/retail oriented campaign through Mass Market Retailers magazine. I know, it’s your go to magazine for all that is good in life, so I’ll save you reading it. Just click here and open to the second inside page. More to come!

Millennials R US

Millennials are viewed as the golden unicorn of the consumer market. Mass Media, in love with outlier stories that sell air time and “page views”, miss the most important takeaway of any serious data based analysis around millennial consumer behavior. Therefore most Millennial oriented stories (see my post last year about Millennial fragrance preferences) are with a lens focused on differentiation. But a closer look shows Millennials are acting age appropriately and many of their “unique” behaviors are really behaviors that have become the societal norm.

This video is of fantastic speech by Simon Sinek about millennials with great consumer insight. The reality is, it’s not about Millennials as much as it’s the story each of us lives as we transit this world attached to a mobile “device”. Watch, learn and laugh as you look in the mirror. And by the way a great one to watch with your children.