PLUS: Soylent for boomers, transparency as table stakes, and Subway x Tastemade
|Apr 4||Public post|| 4|
👋 Hi. It’s been a minute. 2019 is shaping up to be a strong year in the D2C space, with Glossier, Rent The Runway, and Casper all announcing unicorn valuations within a few days of each other. I think they call that a tricorn…
The Chips 🐭
Perennial is Soylent for baby boomers.
Small-but-mighty wellness brand Golde is making on-the-go packs.
The Dip 🏐
Like any good, food-loving millennial, I adore Bon Appétit. I also love media and storytelling, especially when it defies convention. That’s why Adam Rapoport’s most recent editor’s letter struck a chord.
He notes that Bon Appetit's digital consumers — those who follow the brand on Instagram, listen to its podcast, subscribe to its YouTube channel — are far younger than its print readers. And — wait for it — he celebrates that range and diversity.
Bon Appetit has succeeded because it has grown into secondary (read: non-print magazine) channels in a meaningful, authentic way. The team knows what its audience likes, regardless of platform or age, and it delivers content that’s not gimmicky or transactional. Bon Appetit has managed to build a real, dynamic relationship with its readers — something that brands, just as much as media companies, can learn from.
Omnichannel is the buzzword du jour. Today’s brands have their core digital channel, social media outlets, and maybe a blog. As they gain traction, they’ll open a pop-up, which might turn into a permanent space. Maybe they’ll introduce an app, maybe they’ll publish a cookbook…
But omnichannel isn’t about doing everything. It’s about doing what adds the most value.
And it’s not about transactions, it’s about deepening relationships.
That could mean opening a long-term pop-up that functions as a lounge during the day and hosts events at night (hi, Recess). Or maybe it’s an AR-powered app that lets you try on glasses without getting out of bed (hi, Warby Parker). Or a podcast that spotlights a B2B company’s partners (hi, Lumi).
The transaction is the tip of the iceberg, and exciting things can happen when a brand looks below the surface.
The Everlane Example
I’ve been an Everlane evangelist since 2012. On any given day, I’m wearing at least one (more likely two) Everlane pieces. I’ve been to every NYC pop-up they’ve hosted, starting with the 2012 “Not A Shop.” Its positioning is rock solid and has only grown stronger as the brand has evolved.
The brand’s collection-specific pop-ups — like Shoe Park, Room Service, and the ReNew Experience — are always delightfully innovative, but its Prince Street store falls flat. When it opened in 2017, the brand said it would use the space to "host panels, community events, and art installations." That hasn’t happened more than a handful of times.
Instead, it’s just another store. It lacks the robust storytelling that Everlane has mastered elsewhere. It’s a large white box that stocks a limited number of products, and has a line that’s in competition with Prince Street Pizza across the street. I want to love it, and I want to want to shop there, but Everlane isn’t giving me a good reason to…
Away’s success is a testament to the power of omnichannel marketing done right. Competitors like Raden and Bluesmart have shuttered, blaming their downfall on the ruling that smart luggage batteries must be removable (for Raden, at least, that wasn’t exactly true…).
With smart marketing, a clear brand POV, and an ever-expanding assortment of products, Away built an impenetrable moat. And that moat keeps growing.
Away sells luggage, but it’s not a luggage company. It’s a travel company. It helps get you from point A to point B, and it enables authentic experiences. It has a magazine with a dedicated editorial staff, a podcast, seven stores across the globe, and has dabbled in pop-ups. With all of this, it inspires.
It’s all working, and I want it to do more. I want Away to launch a trip planner and host group tours (group travel is a super interesting space, but I’ll save that for another time…).
What About Words?
Blogs and digital magazines allow brands to own the narrative around their products and their positioning, and they offer another outlet through which to engage with customers.
But a lot of brand-led content is bad. Too many brands use blogs to draw in organic traffic through search optimization, but today’s best content isn’t (nor should be) an SEO play.
It’s about rich, aspirational, educational storytelling that brings products to life. More importantly, it should be woven into the site experience, giving consumers the information they need exactly where they need it. Content should be omnipresent. Tracksmith has always done this well. Beni Rugs and Great Jones, too. Glossier is just starting to dabble in it, embedding content about customers’ skincare routines into product pages.
Ikea’s Planning Studio is one of my favorite examples of smart omnichannel marketing. Think of it as a guideshop (in that it doesn’t house inventory) with design consultants. Ikea’s ecomm experience is weak (though not for much longer — it’s working with Work&Co), making a visit to a “real” Ikea store the easiest way to buy furniture. But most New Yorkers who go to Ikea don’t actually walk out with their furniture — they have it delivered.
Planning Studio is a secondary retail outlet that streamlines the entire shopping experience and pares the store down to its most essential part: a checkout kiosk. No lines, no meatballs, no forgetting to buy a middle beam… Just a fast, simple experience that gives customers exactly what they need.
Real Dip 🎧
Chipotle adobo dip. It’s hard to screw up and hard to stop eating.
Put about a cup of cashews (toasted, if that’s your jam) and a can of chipotles in adobo sauce in a food processor. Add a three-finger pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime juice. Pulse until everything looks pebbly, then add a glug of olive oil and let ‘er rip.
Scoop it with tortilla chips, schmear it on a sandwich, serve it with crudités, eat it by the spoonful.
Thanks for snacking. Questions, comments, compliments? Hit reply and type to me.
— Emily 🐙