Morning Brew - ☕ NFTing it up

Will minting an NFT collection prove a smart way for new brands to get off the ground?
Morning Brew September 20, 2022

Retail Brew


Happy Tuesday. Sure, the smell of coffee gets us going in the morning, but what better way to wind down at the end of the day than by lighting a candle with the evocative smell of new sneakers? D.S. & Durga describes the Parquet Leather scent of its new candle as having a bouquet of “orange leather, maplewood, red oak parquet, and fancy sneakers.”

In today’s edition:

—Maeve Allsup, Andrew Adam Newman, Richard Morgan


An NFT walks into Erewhon

An NFT walks into Erewhon Leisure Project, Grant Thomas

It seems like every big brand has an NFT these days—Alo Yoga, Prada, Coca-Cola, and even Lamborghini. But name-brand recognition isn’t a requisite for a potentially valuable foray into the Wild West of Web3.

Despite the fact that NFT ownership isn’t particularly widespread (only around 2% of Americans have bought NFTs), minting an NFT collection may prove a smart way for new brands to get off the ground, and to be prepared for widespread adoption in the future.

Or at least, that’s the bet Leisure Project, which makes hydration beverages that target younger generations that may care more about being creative and mental health rather than athletes and performance, is making.

Steve Michaelsen, who co-founded Leisure with his brother, said the NFT collection they launched allowed them to build a foundational community nearly two months before their first cans hit the market.

“To find your first customers is very hard,” Michaelsen told Retail Brew. “We actually found our first customers by launching an NFT.”

Working backward

Adoption rates aren’t quite high enough for NFTs to be ubiquitous in the retail world, but brands can’t afford not to explore their options in the space if they don’t want to be left behind, said Marcel Hollerbach, chief innovation officer at Productsup.

“These cycles of innovation will get shorter and shorter, and the speed at which consumers adopt new technologies is getting shorter,” Hollerbach told Retail Brew.

Dynamic duo: Leisure Project’s two-person team launched their NFT collection in March 2021, and today has 400 token holders who receive product discounts, early access to new flavors and merchandise, and in the future will be able to vote on product lines and flavors.

It takes a (digital) village: While Leisure’s NFT drop may not fuel the company on its own (Michaelsen said they’re also actively fundraising), it helped make the project less of a “cash burn.”

“I feel like this is Kickstarter 2.0 in a way, where you not only help founders that have visions of a brand, but you also get to have a longer term relationship with them,” Michaelsen said.

Keep reading here.—MA



Down to the penny


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It covers pretty much everything—short of counting loose change between the couch cushions.

Spend less time figuring out where your money goes and more time building a brand that stands out in the consumer crowd. Get started with Teampay here.



Status update

Two hands holding the latest iPhones. Apple

Unless they’re deeply into Steve Jobs cosplay, it may be hard to imagine why anyone who purchased an iPhone 13 a few months ago would feel like they need to trade up to the new iPhone 14 that went on sale September 16.

But it appears that some iPhone users are preoccupied with their device’s signal, although not the kind indicated by the four bars. What they’re interested in is what having the newest device signals about them.

  • One out of five iPhone users thinks that not having the latest phone is a sign that someone is struggling financially, according to a recent survey by WalletHub.
  • Nearly one out of three (31%) think a new phone is a “necessity.”

“[W]e’re living more and more on our phones, so it’s not just seen as a phone anymore,” Jill Gonzales, a WalletHub analyst, told us. “It’s really seen as so much more than that.”

WalletHub surveyed more than 280 iPhone users across age, gender, and income spectrums to reflect US demographics.

Debt on arrival: Impressively, the new phones have car-crash detection, which can notify emergency services and your emergency contacts when it senses you’ve been in a serious accident. But with the new iPhones starting at $799 and the Pro Max version starting at $1,099, is getting that technical advance into your pocket worth going into debt?

  • More than one in five (21%) of iPhone users surveyed said yes, getting a new one is worth going into credit-card debt.
  • 34% said their iPhone was their most important belonging.

WalletHub, a personal-finance website, features a cell phone savings calculator to help consumers compare carriers by upfront and monthly costs.

One thing that may save consumers money is that Apple appears to be responding to years of criticism from right-to-repair advocates that its products are difficult—if not impossible—for consumers to fix themselves.

In an August 16 post, iFixit, a website that advocates for devices to be repairable, gave the iPhone 14 a 7/10 repairability score, the highest it’s given the device since the iPhone 7, which came out in 2016.

“Why isn’t [Apple CEO] Tim Cook bragging about repairability?” Kyle Wiens wrote in an iFixit post. “We had no idea this was coming, because Apple didn’t mention it—at all. But they should have.”—AAN



Royal reality check

Royal reality check Will Varner

In the Buckingham Palace Shop at the intersection of Buckingham Palace Road and Palace Street—the official royal gift shop—the windows have been blocked out with thick, velvety purple curtains since the death of Queen Elizabeth II earlier this month. It evokes (perhaps unintentionally) a coffin, and that association is even sharper next door, at Majestic Gifts, where an explicit shrine of mourning is surrounded by a display offering queen-themed keychains, mugs, salt and pepper shakers, posters, pens, teddy bears, dishes, wine glasses, and bobblehead dolls. Much of it is still celebrating the queen’s Platinum Jubilee, which ended in June. Queen Elizabeth merchandise is a dying breed.

Around some of London’s biggest tourist neighborhoods—Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Notting Hill, Covent Garden, Leicester Square, and Piccadilly Circus—there is a far greater chance of finding merchandise of Mr. Bean, the British cult television star whose eponymous show ended in 1995, than of the new king. There’s even a better chance of finding Donald Trump merchandise in a British souvenir shop in 2022 than there is of anything Carolean.

A 2021 poll found the queen’s brand allure was “greater than Nike, Ferrari and Pepsi.” For good reason: a 2018 YouGov poll found that 31% of Britons had seen or met the late queen in person, as opposed to 16% for then-Prince Charles, 5% for Prince William, 4% for Prince Harry, 3% for Kate Middleton, and only 1% for Meghan Markle. Put plainly, the queen was the British monarchy, and without her, international interest in the Windsors seems uncertain, as does the entire business of selling royal merchandise.

“I’m not going to want to see Charles’s face on a teacup or tea towel,” said Elizabeth Holmes, proprietor of an Instagram that offers insights into the royal family and writer of a New York Times bestseller on the subject, HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style.

Charles has never been able to match his mother in popularity; shortly before her Jubilee, 81% of Britons said they viewed her favorably. Meanwhile, 42% said in a separate April 2022 poll that Charles should abdicate in favor of his son.

Click to read more from Morning Brew on the potentially shaky future of royal merchandise.—RM




One click from product to purchase. That’s what it takes to crush sales, today and tomorrow. A frictionless checkout experience is pivotal to increasing conversions and beating shopping cart abandonment—a trillion-dollar problem—and Bolt has the game-changing tools to help your biz do just that. Read all about it here.



Today’s top retail reads.

Power struggle: Skyrocketing energy prices are causing some European factories to temporarily shut down. (the New York Times)

Spot on: How whimsical pimple patches caught on with Gen Z. ”Drawing attention to it isn’t a bad thing,” said Squish Beauty founder Charli Howard. “You kind of own your flaws and you’re accepting that your skin isn’t perfect.” (the Wall Street Journal)

Fish and microchips: With names like Flippy, Sippy, and Chippy, food-preparing robots are helping to address labor challenges in fast-food restaurants. (the Washington Post)

Reimagine the retail road map: You won’t wanna miss our Retail Brew x Bolt Virtual Event on Sept. 28, where we’ll hear from the CMO of Chewy and Bolt’s VP of Customer Experience about how they’re elevating the e-comm experience for the better. Register here.*

*This is sponsored advertising content.


Snag advanced ticket pricing for The SKU! This all-day event will cover the future of shopping, sustainability, customer loyalty, and omnichannel everything. You’ll hear experts from TikTok, Crocs, Harry’s Inc., and more. See you there!


  • Wegmans discontinued its self-checkout app, citing losses possibly caused by shoplifting.
  • Peloton began taking preorders for its rowing machine that will be released in December, with a boat-rocking price tag of $3,195, plus monthly fees for its app and to stream videos. 
  • PepsiCo finally stopped producing Pepsi, 7UP, and Mountain Dew in Russia, almost six months after it said it would stop selling there.
  • Beyond Meat COO Doug Ramsey was arrested after allegedly biting another man on the nose in an Arkansas parking lot after a college football game.
  • Claire’s stepped up its partnership with Walmart, adding its jewelry and accessories to 1,200 additional Walmart stores, for a total of ~2,500.


What happened in the world of retail this week in 1887 and beyond? Retail Brew takes you way, way, way back.

  • On September 21, 2021, McDonald’s announced the reduction of plastic in its Happy Meal toys.
  • On September 21, 1937, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit was published.
  • On September 24, 1948, Honda Motor Co. was incorporated in Japan.
  • On September 26, 1887, Emile Berliner patented the Gramophone.


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Written by Maeve Allsup, Andrew Adam Newman, and Richard Morgan

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