No. 727: How America Will Follow Suit

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Welcome to No. 727. The most read stories from Friday's member brief: OpenStore raises $30 million (Axios). And on the next wave of outdoor ads (The Drum). The upcoming Chicago dinner for 2PM members (7/29) filled in just a few minutes. Thank you to all who wanted to attend. It should be a great event. 

If you're the intellectually curious type, add the executive membership to your short list of premium newsletters. 

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The News / Tech Wire Asia: Shoppertainment, a term used to describe the convergence of entertainment shopping videos and commercials, has been increasing. Countries with movement restrictions and deferred plans caused by Covid-19 have turned consumers to shopping with entertainment for that feel-good factor. In TikTok’s survey, one in three users stated that they want to make purchases and feel good about themselves. “Shoppers expect not just to be sold to, but to be entertained as well. Instead of people searching for products, products are now searching for people” shared Ng Chew Wee, Head of Business Marketing, TikTok Southeast Asia.

Short Analysis: One of the most lasting pandemic-era trends that will persist even as restrictions lift: shopping as entertainment, or “shoppertainment.

This is best captured by the return of Kylie Cosmetics, which reformulated its product line and re-premiered last week after a brief hiatus. Founder Kylie Jenner reintroduced the lip glosses and other cosmetics in a live stream on her site that linked directly to checkout as products were displayed. It’s a natural extension of Jenner’s tendency to show product wear on her Instagram channel, with easier direct payments. The site crashed for a few minutes after the products were released.

Instagram wants to keep up, too, as platforms have ushered in the era of shoppertainment. TikTok and YouTube are currently best positioned for e-commerce tie ups as personalities review and promote products and brands participate in viral trends and run native ads on the sites. Instagram has been investing more in both shopping and video capabilities; its next priority is to marry the two. In order to remake itself as an entertainment and commerce app, it’s shedding its photo-sharing roots, which Instagram head Adam Mosseri announced in a recent update. It’s a big gamble to risk alienating users of core app features, but platforms see such tempting dollar signs in winning over brands and customers that it’s worth it.

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Overall, the US is playing catch up to shopping behaviors that are well-developed in the east. Asian customers readily embrace shopping entertainment and are used to buying from live videos. And where China goes, the United States follows, especially as it relates to macro-trends and best practices in online retail and audience development. That’s created some blending in services: Shopshops, an app that live streams from stores in the US to customers in Asia, has gained traction during the pandemic. And Popshop Live, an app that’s modeled after Asia’s livestream shopping habits, recently raised $20 million. It’s go time.

Hilary Milnes and Web Smith, About 2PM

Can Farfetch own online luxury?

eCommerce / Quartz: The site carries clothes from a huge library of labels — more than 3,500, it says — including big names like Gucci, Prada, and Saint Laurent, and niche designers like Budapest-based Nanushka. Vast as that marketplace is, it represents just one piece of Farfetch’s ambition. As founder and CEO José Neves put it to analysts during an earnings call in February, the company’s goal is to be “an operating system and digital enabler for the entire global luxury industry.”

Editor's Note: Yes. 

Michigan players, store partner in jersey-sale deal

A New Day / ESPN: In what is believed to be the first deal of its kind, Michigan athletics official retail store, The M Den, announced on Saturday it is partnering with Wolverines football players to create custom jerseys to sell with the player's name and number on the back.

By 2PM: Read The NIL Guide 🔐 to understand where the NCAA is headed and what the potential downsides look like. 

Facial recognition surges in retail stores

Data / Axios: The systems can scan or store facial images of both shoppers and workers. Their use accelerated during the pandemic as retailers looked for ways to prevent fraud, track foot traffic with fewer employees, and offer contactless payments at a time when consumers were wary of interacting with others.

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Last week, I published a lengthy case study on the evolution of The Fast and The Furious franchise and what we can learn from it. While the movies aren't exactly excellent, the business decisions made by Vin Diesel and Universal Pictures changed an entire industry. It was widely lauded by savvy industry insiders like Dan Runcie, Zoe Scaman, and Orchid Bertelsen. 

This is a member brief but I hope that 2PM has provided enough value to you make the leap or continue along as we build something great here. I figured that this approach was better than paid advertising. I don't need advertising anyway, I got family. 

The F&F Case Study

Netflix plans to offer video games in push beyond films, tv

The Streaming Economy / Bloomberg: The idea is to offer video games on Netflix’s streaming platform within the next year, according to a person familiar with the situation. The games will appear alongside current fare as a new programming genre — similar to what Netflix did with documentaries or stand-up specials. The company doesn’t currently plan to charge extra for the content, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private.

By 2PM: Read The Netflix Playbook 2.0 🔓 for a holistic view on where the streaming giant is headed. 

Retail real estate trade group grapples with post-pandemic landscape

Retail Real Estate / CNBC: The International Council of Shopping Centers announced Monday its initials ICSC will now stand for Innovating Commerce Serving Communities. ICSC said the changes have been about nine months in the making. The 65-year-old trade group said the shift is indicative of how ICSC, its members — which include U.S. mall and shopping center owners — and the entire retail real estate industry are rapidly evolving, in part due to repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic.

By 2PM: Read The Ballad of Victor Gruen 🔓to understand how malls were initially envisioned before tax incentives sparked a wave of the over-built indoor retail industry.

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Updated July 19: Shein finally takes the first spot. This edition of the DTC Power List is worth your time. 

Will Apple end the newsletter boom?

Consumer Data / The Verge: Given Apple’s monopoly advantage with their preinstalled Mail app, we don’t need much of an uptake from what they’re calling Mail Privacy Protection to break the dam on spy pixels. You can’t really say anything authoritatively about open rates if 5-10-30-50% of your recipients are protected against snooping, as you won’t know whether that’s why your spy pixel isn’t tripping, or it’s because they’re just not opening your email.

By 2PM: Read Linear Commerce and Content Fortresses 🔓to understand why Apple is boxing out any and all competitors to build its own self-sustaining attention economy. 

The travel industry is a total mess. Everyone is traveling anyway

Trends / Intelligencer: Millions are finding that the travel industry isn’t yet ready for them. As of the July 4 holiday weekend, travel returned to 98 percent of pre-pandemic highs, with 5 percent more road-trippers than in 2019 and 90 percent as many airline travelers, according to AAA. “I equate what’s going on to travelers being given the keys to a terrific sports car but then being told they can drive no more than 40 miles per hour,” says Henry Harteveldt, a veteran travel-industry analyst.

Gucci creating backpacks for 100 Thieves collab

Brands / WWD: Gucci is expanding its presence in the esports arena through a collaboration with 100 Thieves, a Los Angeles-based apparel and gaming brand, that drops today. The Italian luxury brand has created 200 limited-edition, numbered backpacks from the Gucci Off the Grid collection in bright red, with multiple pockets and a black leather trim.

Luxury is culture now.

Luxury Brands / Vogue Business: The desired outcome: building cachet by establishing shared values and moments that are bigger than the brands themselves, experts say. Such curation allows brands to become part of the cultural zeitgeist in a seemingly organic way, says Paul Greenwood, head of research and insights at We Are Social, the creative agency that works with brands from Adidas to Netflix.

By 2PM: Read The New Definition of Luxury 🔓 to understand how post-pandemic luxury consumption will manifest.

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Industrial lease vacancy is plummeting in Oklahoma (Oklahoman). Alibaba announces the NFT art festival (Yahoo). Rent the Runway files for IPO (Reuters). And venture capital is having its biggest year (QZ). 

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Note: this memo is an expansion of the short analysis from Friday's member brief. That version had a few grammatical errors. This version has been improved and is worth your time. To all who emailed in, I apologize for the errors

One side has the advantage of distribution, the other side has the advantage of brand equity. I believe that the holding company trend will favor brand equity in the long run.

As the rumor persists that Thrasio is nearing a public offering, its competitors are growing in force, with Branded Group, Elevate Brands, Unybrands, Technology Commerce Management, Boosted Commerce, Heyday, and Win Brands Group among them. While technology may play a role in quantifying each investment’s viability and potential upside, none rely solely on an algorithm to determine a brand’s fate. That is, until recently.

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