EPISODE 190
January 8, 2021

"Your Tool, Your Sword, Your Treasure"

Shopify removes Trump eCommerce stores. The New York Post reports 1 in 5 Shopify sites "pose a risk to shoppers". The Amazon Halo band's infiltration into body data and how Amazon and other retailers thrive via ad networks. PLUS: Elon Musk becomes the richest man alive. Listen now!

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Today, Brian and Phillip talk about the extension of 2020 into 2021, corporate leadership, and personal data. 

Corporate Leadership, Shopify, and Your Personal Data

  • Anything related to Donald Trump is effectively not what Shopify wants to promote. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat have all suspended Donald Trump’s account across their services. This brings to question businesses and their corporate leadership stepping forward.
  • Elon Musk has surpassed Jeff Bezos as the world’s richest man. Musk found ways of implementing what the future could be—compared to Bezos, who just found the most efficient way to do things.
  • eCommerce, being all around us, is in a unique position. Comparing it to the time when viruses weren’t on Macs because they were less popular than PCs, Shopify has seen an amount of stores as fraudulent/risky. Just as Macs were on the rise and were ripe for fraud, so is the world of e-Commerce. 
  • In 2020, you’re responsible for managing your own data—with whom and what your data is used for. 
  • Many retailers are becoming advertisers in and of themselves using this data—like Amazon, who brought in more ad revenue in 2020 through its own ad network than Twitter has brought in revenue in its entire existence.

Stealth Luxury

  • “Every brand is either a marketplace today or will have to adapt to become one.” - Phillip Jackson
  • As marketplaces (or curators), brands all interweave and interact with other brands and their stories. 
  • Bottega Veneta deleted all of its social accounts—a deliberate move to build their brand identity of luxury. In a noise-filled world, silent spaces (like flying first class) can feel more luxurious.
  • From the GQ article on Bottega Veneta: “[The move] is the ultimate act of stealth luxury. It will now be a brand that travels strictly by word of mouth.”
  • Tied into this, Parade Underwear has taken a new spin on influencer marketing, in delivering free underwear to Instagram users with fewer than a thousand followers in exchange for posting.
  • There’s a separation in the market for luxuries vs price-centered items. Amazon and other marketplaces are saturated with knockoff brands so Brian predicts that the brands that are going to see the most success in the 2020s are brands that are marketed for broad markets and brands that are extreme luxury. The middle ground of “premium mediocre” brands is thinning.

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If you have any comments or questions about this episode, you can reach out to us at hello@futurecommerce.fm or any of our social channels. We love hearing from our listeners!


Phillip: [00:00:01] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce. I'm Phillip.

Brian: [00:00:04] And I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:00:06] And wow, OK, there's literally no way to even start this podcast without just recognizing that we are... It is officially, as of this date of recording, it's December 38, 2020.

Brian: [00:00:23] Exactly.

Phillip: [00:00:25] Exactly.

Brian: [00:00:26] It stays behind. You know what, the year starts on Inauguration.

Phillip: [00:00:30] On the 20th. Yeah I think so. The country's a dumpster fire right now, but thankfully our corporate leaders, nay overlords, nay leaders are at the helm and they are guiding us to safety with their fearless leadership. And we'll get into that in just a little bit. But before we do, I just want to give a quick shout out. Thank you so much to Vertex for sponsoring this episode of Future Commerce. If you are looking for a tax solution for businesses of all sizes, you can get that by visiting VertexCloud.com and tell them that Future Commerce sent you, and they'll give you 13 months for the price of twelve. And they can handle filing, they can handle business, use tax... They could do all the things that you need in the realm of tax. And they work for some of the biggest companies that you've heard of in the world and some of the smallest companies you never have. Visit Vertex online. All right, Brian, goodness gracious. We started talking about this around a year and a half ago or so when the Business Roundtable sort of redefined from shareholder to stakeholder. And we were talking about, oh, is this a new era of corporate leadership? And then the pandemic happened and we said that's a new era of corporate leadership because, you know, before the government, state or federal governments, ever stepped in and did anything about social distancing measures, or mask wearing, or mask requirements, businesses were implementing that. We see that a little bit here again today with Shopify.

Brian: [00:02:09] Shopify is doing some very interesting things. So Shopify has declared anything related to Donald Trump sales basically as a site that effectively promotes stuff that Shopify doesn't want to promote. And it's against their terms of service in terms of service and use. And so they are shutting off all Donald Trump sites.

Phillip: [00:02:38] Yeah.

Brian: [00:02:39] Those using Shopify to sell stuff.

Phillip: [00:02:42] Effective immediately. And they're not the only ones.

Brian: [00:02:48] Nope.

Phillip: [00:02:49] Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and SNAP have all suspended Donald Trump's accounts for varying lengths of times across the services. But we're seeing a lot of corporate leadership that, you know, what we have seen in the past, Brian, is corporations stepping up ahead of the government's willingness or unwillingness to actually act on the will of the people. So maybe this is a precursor to what is to come yet.

Brian: [00:03:21] It's going to be government by corporation.

Phillip: [00:03:24] There's a really... Exactly. So this is sort of the Weyland Yutani corporation, right? On the same day that Elon Musk is now the richest man in the world.

Brian: [00:03:34] Should we talk about that?

Phillip: [00:03:36] I told you I didn't want to, but it ties in nicely to my alien theme that I'm going to head into.

Brian: [00:03:41] It does. I said I was done with Elon. I want to come back to talk about Elon a little bit more at some point, but not because I'm not done with him just because, you know, we need to probably talk about Elon.

Phillip: [00:03:53] It's incredible. You and I were at a dinner in the before times about a year and some change ago. I think it was like a post award dinner. We had just won an award for some work that we had done with this really interesting startup in South Florida called Material Bank, which is a division of Sandahl who puts out, I believe not Architectural Digest, it's the other one... Interior Design Magazine, probably. And anyway, we had this dinner and we were sitting with Farshid, and he had said... Farshid Tafazzoli, I think, is his name. And he was saying he objected to the idea that the markets were frothy. Do you remember this? We had this whole...

Brian: [00:04:42] Oh yeah. I don't think I was actually at that dinner, but...

Phillip: [00:04:44] No. It was at the dinner. It was definitely at that dinner. There was a very long conversation about it.

Brian: [00:04:48] No. I wasn't there at that one. You weren't there? Oh.

Phillip: [00:04:51] Yeah I wasn't there at that one. I heard about the story.

Brian: [00:04:54] He rejects the notion... And if Farshid is listening, a good friend of the show and really, really stellar guy... And they're doing some incredible stuff in the B2B space at Material Bank, which I think we've covered in the past on the show. But if you thought markets were frothy a year and a half ago, {laughter} they're completely unhinged now. And Tesla may be a good indicator of just how disassociated markets are from any sort of reality. Tesla being one of the most valuable companies in the world at this point. And now Elon is a very, very rich man.

Brian: [00:05:44] From bankrupt at midnight to one hundred and eighty billion dollars.

Phillip: [00:05:50] What's that reference? I don't know the reference.

Brian: [00:05:53] There's a story with Elon and how he was like literally minutes away from bankruptcy.

Phillip: [00:06:00] Oh, that's right. That's right.

Brian: [00:06:04] What I think is interesting about this is that I think Elon is a better person to be the richest person in the world right now. Like he's a better example. Not that I want him to be. Not that I wanted to be. I feel like he's a better reflection of this age than Bezos is.

Phillip: [00:06:23] Oh in the era that we're in. Than Jeff Bezos.

Brian: [00:06:24] The era that we're in. Yeah, Elon, I kind of feel like he is Jobs' successor and Bezos is more like Jack Walsh's successor.

Phillip: [00:06:36] {laughter} There's a really interesting parallel there. I think you and I had chatted before that I feel like Bezos is a capitalist, right?

Brian: [00:06:46] Yes.

Phillip: [00:06:47] And Elon is a cult leader. Elon's a religious figure of some sort.

Brian: [00:06:51] Yeah yeah. Totally, totally. It's like Jobs. Jobs had this sort of cult following and just had all of these things that he thought and did and like visions of what the future would be and how to implement them. And Bezos just is sort of the opposite of that in that he just found the most efficient way to do things all the time.

Phillip: [00:07:14] Well...

Brian: [00:07:15] Elon's got more of that hype. He's got the hype.

Phillip: [00:07:18] Incredible. What an incredible time. But the reason I was bringing that up is this idea of corporate leadership and corporate leadership specifically as it pertains to an idea that it's like there's a global corporation that at some point in the future owns everything and controls everything. And kind of we're slowly heading that way, which I had revisited recently the movie Alien and Aliens. Alien kind of holds up. Aliens, not so much. But yeah, this whole idea that the Weyland Yutani Corporation is this conglomerate, the universal conglomerate that owns everything and produces everything. And I think if you had to look at one corporation that's trying to go to space and go to Mars and and take Elon back to his home planet, it's Tesla and SpaceX. And apparently... And if they can't get there in space, they're going to tunnel their way there with Hyperloop {laughter} underground.

Brian: [00:08:33] Oh my gosh. I was doing a crossword puzzle and the clue was a name that's boring. Boring first name. And I was like, oh come on.

Phillip: [00:08:49] Well, that's funny. That's funny. Well, I think...

Brian: [00:08:52] Thanks The Atlantic.

Phillip: [00:08:54] There's another sort of related story about corporate leadership. And it's funny because it's sort of related to Shopify. There was a story in The New York Post, I think it was, a couple of weeks ago. Well, I don't know. It was before Christmas, which sort of didn't like happen. It happened right around the Black Friday or sorry, the post Black Friday sort of Christmas, that lull there where you really couldn't buy anything online to get to delivered anyway. But there was an article from Noah Manskar in The New York Post that says one in five Shopify stores reportedly pose a risk to shoppers going into it... Effectively eCommerce scams are on the rise, and we've seen this for years and years now. But there was a report from an eCommerce authentication service called Fake Spot that said that they had discovered red flags with nearly 26,000 of the 124,000 Shopify stores that had been examined. Some merchants are selling fake products or pirated media. Others are just fake stores altogether and never deliver any products. And yeah, long story short, 39% of the sketchy stores were problematic sellers, meaning they were hawking something like counterfeit goods or infringing on brands. But close to 17% were fraudulent stores that had negative reports from customers. And anyway, I think this is kind of a non story, but I wanted to seed an idea in that this reminds me of the Mac versus PC debate of the early 2000s. There was this whole thing about Macs not having viruses, and it was because the surface area was so small and there's no threat there because who would craft a virus for a Mac when nobody had a Mac? Right? Who would go to the trouble? And with eCommerce so commonplace, especially with Shopify becoming so commonplace, I think it was 2PM just revised their direct to consumer list and their top brands, top DTC brands, number one platform among all of them, Brian...

Brian: [00:11:21] Shopify.

Phillip: [00:11:22] There you go. And so the surface area is getting bigger.

Brian: [00:11:26] Nobody ever wrote a virus for Shopify.

Phillip: [00:11:29] Yeah, that's never happened, right?

Brian: [00:11:32] No, it's just kind of mind boggling. I think it doesn't matter what platform you're on, although, honestly, what I'm shopping online, do you think I use the Wappalyzer when I'm going to make a purchase on a site?

Phillip: [00:11:43] Oh yeah you do.

Brian: [00:11:43] You better believe I do.

Phillip: [00:11:45] I very much look at the platform and kind of like WooCommerce? Hmmm...

Brian: [00:11:51] Not so much.

Phillip: [00:11:52] I don't know if I'm shopping in a WooCommerce site.

Brian: [00:11:55] Magento 1? Definitely not.

Phillip: [00:11:56] Definitely not going to shop at a Magento 1 site. Godspeed, my former employer who is still on Magento 1. Eight years ago. Rest in Peace. So I don't know, there's this whole kind of there's a story here. eCommerce is part of our necessity for life in this modernity. Right?

Brian: [00:12:20] Yes. It is.

Phillip: [00:12:21] We have to engage in some sort of digital commerce transaction at some point. And if it's not one that you initiate, you're going to a store and you're checking yourself out at a kiosk yourself. You're going to Chick fil A and you're driving through the drive thru and they're using a digital ordering screen.

Brian: [00:12:40] That's correct.

Phillip: [00:12:41] eCommerce is all around us. And the fact of the matter is, is that the surface area is bigger and this is the mode of attack now. It's ripe for fraud.

Brian: [00:12:57] Absolutely. In fact, I wrote an article recently called Your 2020 Body Is A Dataland. And at the end of it, I talked about how, while there's been a lot of discussion about what it means to own your data, I kind of wanted to flip that on its head a little bit and say you need to take ownership of your data. Because actually you are responsible for what happens to you right now. No one else is looking out for you. Not really. And so you need to understand where your data goes, when it goes there, why it went there, and you need to get good at figuring out how to leverage your data to get what you want. And sometimes that's as simple as making a purchase on Amazon. And you already know that Amazon is going to do all these things with your data that Amazon does. And it's mostly to promote themselves. In many ways that might be a good thing, because when you go make a purchase on a different site, your data might go somewhere you have no idea where it goes. So you need to understand how your data is being used, how it's being stored, how people are profiting off of it, and make sure that you are the one that gets to find out how to do that and get your sort of reward for managing your own data. It is your tool. It is your sword. It is your treasure. It's all of the above.

Phillip: [00:14:38] {laughter} It's your tool, your sword, your treasure. I like that. This is... Yes, and at the same time, like right before we started the show, I was talking about a GDPR information removal request that we had received to Future Commerce. And my mind was sort of thinking like, well, who all might have information about this person? So I started thinking about what are the marketing integrations we have? MailChimp is on the site. You know, Google Analytics is on the site. HubSpot has an integration on the site. There's no shortage. There's, you know, a whole bunch of other marketing functions that are on FutureCommerce.fm. That's not a trivial request.

Brian: [00:15:32] No, it's not.

Phillip: [00:15:33] And honoring that request from that person is something that like we should deeply care about. This is something that I've seen and had conversations with retailers specifically about how they define processes that honor these types of requests and do so in a timely and respectful manner to respect the data privacy requests of the person. This is that person's data. It's the attention data. It's their behavior data. This kind of behavioral and attention data is being mined around us at all times. In that same article you mentioned Amazon's competitor to the WHOOP band, Halo. Is it Halo?

Brian: [00:16:22] Halo. Right. Yup.

Phillip: [00:16:23] And Amazon also has a digital shelf now which, you know, sort of acts as a reordering scale. So if it's not just your attitudinal... By the way the Halo band tracks heart rate.

Brian: [00:16:37] But it tracks your voice.

Phillip: [00:16:37] But it tracks your voice to sense your mood.

Brian: [00:16:46] Is that a Halo band on your wrist right now I see?

Phillip: [00:16:48] No, no, it's not. No, no.

Brian: [00:16:50] That was a joke.

Phillip: [00:16:52] Remember we did the unboxing of the MSCHF thing to turn off your Alexa devices.

Brian: [00:17:04] Yeah yeah yeah.

Phillip: [00:17:04] In my mind, I'm sort of like, it's getting a little creepy. I don't know.

Brian: [00:17:05] Maybe what we need...

Phillip: [00:17:05] This is cue the clip, Chris, from four years ago when I was like, "Track everything I do. I don't care. If it makes my life easier. Please."

Brian: [00:17:25] Oh, my gosh.

Phillip: [00:17:25] Anyway, yeah.

Brian: [00:17:27] You know what's interesting? Actually, this is a really... This OK... This leads into a whole additional conversation.

Phillip: [00:17:33] Before you go down a whole rabbit hole, let me finish up the idea, the reason why I brought up the Halo.

Brian: [00:17:40] Ok.

Phillip: [00:17:40] I do believe that with Amazon being a top advertiser now, and it only just launched its ad network a couple of years ago. Amazon delivers trillions of ad impressions a year and takes in billions upon billions of dollars. In fact, Amazon brought in more advertising revenue, I saw this stat on Twitter, someone fact check me on this. But Amazon brought in more ad revenue in 2020 through its own ad network than Twitter has brought in revenue in its entire existence.

Brian: [00:18:23] I would believe that. I believe that wholeheartedly.

Phillip: [00:18:27] That gives you like a sense of the scale of Amazon itself as an advertiser. Many retailers are becoming advertisers in and of themselves and onto themselves now. And following that lead. Walmart recently doubled down, invested in its own ad network. Another I forget who else? Maybe you can help me find it. I think it was in the Senses newsletter a few weeks ago about who else just launched an ad network. Can't remember who it was.  [00:18:57]But when you think about the scale of Amazon as an advertising outfit, their ability to track your mood and the time of day and whether you've eaten or not based on your heart rate gives a whole new dimension to ad targeting efficacy. And this idea of being able to deliver the right ad at the right time, well, the right time is dependent on whether you're hangry or not. And [00:19:22] if you're hangry, maybe you need to go to Burger King and get a new Whopper. Thank you, Amazon, for delivering that ad in exactly the right time. You knew that I was hungry.

Brian: [00:19:32] Or one hour delivery Snickers Bar.

Phillip: [00:19:34] There you go. And hey, what's better? By the way, I think the ad network was Walgreens. And so what's so interesting about that is that actually could deliver if I had to kind of like put on the marketer hat for a minute. That could be a really effective way of managing ad spend to get even more targeted, to talk to very specific people, to lower CPMs, to lower customer acquisition costs, because you're not delivering an ad that's ineffective. You're delivering a more effective ad and you're willing to pay more for that ad, but deliver fewer of them to just get in front of the right person at the right time. I might have just talked myself into why I think that the Halo brand is a good idea.

Brian: [00:20:18] Now, just add this onto it. Then it starts to tell you, like you should not eat until this time and then it serves the ad. Right at that moment.

Phillip: [00:20:25] Oh. There you go. Oh, there it is. Yeah. It's like, yeah, it becomes sort of like self-fulfilling is like, no, we'll hold them off until one o'clock until he's really upset and then we'll make him eat the really bad thing that... You know, by the way, it's not just our attention anymore that's being auctioned off to the highest bidder. Now it's our behavior. It's grooming us.

Brian: [00:20:46] And this is deserving of a whole article unto itself.

Phillip: [00:20:49] Yeah. Anyway, I loved Brian's piece. If you haven't seen it, it's called Your 2020 Body Is A Dataland. Incredible follow up to a piece you wrote a few years ago and I thought it was really, really great. Oh, there was a little shout out in there too to this sort of connected fitness movement and the Peloton acquisition of Precor, which I thought was a really interesting little side journey too. But it's that we are so deep into... Think about the investment, because I remember we were talking last year about the new formal and the new formal being this sense that we're returning to formal living room, formal dining room, and our formal customs, like formal education, all these things are changing as a result of the pandemic. People made these huge investments. In fact, a lot of people like myself have outfitted very elaborate home gyms. And their whole fitness routine is now based around the home. That's not going away any time soon because people have put so much money and time and effort into bringing that into the house.

Brian: [00:21:56] That's correct. There's a lot of things like that. Gardens. Gyms.

Phillip: [00:22:01] These are eco systems that are data rich.

Brian: [00:22:05] Exactly. They feed themselves. The things that you have to keep up that you want to keep up that you have to continually spend money on.

Phillip: [00:22:12] Yeah. There's such an interesting thing there, too. I have a SoulCycle bike. I opted not to do Peloton. That's a whole other conversation. But when you think about all the devices that actually make that, it's an ecosystem of devices that are value added to that. There's a heart rate monitor, right? There's a fitness tracker. There's the social component where you can share a ride. There's riding with your friends. There's the music that's licensed as part of the experience and apparently Peloton is going to be creating its own music that's customer native to the platform. They're doing influencer rides now, or they have been for a long time. But now they have like exclusives with the Beatles catalog and with Beyonce. And it's becoming such a rich ecosystem that it's no longer just like a blurred line between fitness and media brand or even now an apparel brand. It's like it's the Disney Corporation in that I feel like Peloton really could launch its own entertainment network that is well beyond fitness at some point in the mid future.

Brian: [00:23:24] Shopping network.

Phillip: [00:23:24] And oh, that and for sure. And that's a thing we've said for a while. We had just had Sucharita to close out 2020. We had Sucharita Kodali on the show from Forrester. She had said it many years ago, and now we are definitely in violent agreement. Every brand is a marketplace.

Brian: [00:23:44] Every brand.

Phillip: [00:23:45] Every brand is either a marketplace today or will have to adapt to become one.

Brian: [00:23:51] At minimum, they are curators. Like at minimum their brand story plays in with other stories. It has to be in concert. You can't live and die by yourself. I mean, I guess you could die by yourself. But you can't live by yourself. What's interesting about all of this is...

Phillip: [00:24:14] Oh, is this the rabbit hole?

Brian: [00:24:15] Yeah, it's a good rabbit hole. So Bottega Veneta just signed off from Social Media Altogether, which signals something. Which signals that perhaps the ultimate luxury is just not engaging.

Phillip: [00:24:34] Yeah, Bottega Veneta is the Italian luxury fashion house.

Brian: [00:24:38] Yep.

Phillip: [00:24:43] Yeah. It's funny, there have been other rumblings of this, certainly not in the high fashion space, but I love where you're going with this. Reminds me of a story we covered a year or two ago when Starbucks decided they didn't want to do eCommerce anymore. And there's a reason behind it.

Brian: [00:25:06] Right.

Phillip: [00:25:07] For Starbucks, it was to drive mobile app adoption and get people into the store. For Bottega Veneta, what is it? What's the outcome? Is it just more mystique, less accessible?

Brian: [00:25:19] They didn't actually say, at least not at the point I'd read the article.

Phillip: [00:25:22] I mean, they paid a publicist to do a lot of work to make sure everybody knew that they were doing this. So, you know, this was really well thought out and calculated for sure.

Brian: [00:25:31] I think there's an Atlantic article I read maybe six months ago as well. Maybe it was longer. It was probably longer than that. I think it was before, in the before, about the luxury of silence and like there's so much noise in this world right now. So much noise. There's more noise right now than it has ever been. Right?

Phillip: [00:25:55] Sure.

Brian: [00:25:55] Yeah. And so having silent spaces is why first class feels so good. It's so quiet. It's so many things that want our ears and our eyes and want us to engage also and speak. Perhaps luxury is just not having to do any of it.

Phillip: [00:26:22] Hmm.

Brian: [00:26:22] Sounds amazing actually. Just get out of it for a minute.

Phillip: [00:26:28] I kind of love that.

Brian: [00:26:30] Yeah. So I think that that's maybe where luxury is headed a little bit, and it has been. I don't think it's new actually.

Phillip: [00:26:39] Hmm. There's an article on GQ about this. It's titled Why Did Bottega Veneta Delete Its Social Media? And it's written by Rachel Tashjian, who actually covered CARLY from our Nine by Nine report. She wrote the piece back in June, I believe, in GQ about our...

Brian: [00:27:05] Her conclusion to that article was so good.

Phillip: [00:27:06] It was so good. Yeah CARLY with a Y is now CARLE with an E. Yeah, but with no qualifier.

Brian: [00:27:12] No qualifier. It was so good.

Phillip: [00:27:13] It was just like your brain fills in a gap. I love that so much.

Brian: [00:27:17] This is why you write for GQ and not for us because...

Phillip: [00:27:19] Yes. Right. That's the reason? There's so many more reasons.

Brian: [00:27:24] All right. There's a lot more reasons.

Phillip: [00:27:26] Rachel's brilliant. But this article from January 5th is subtitled An Investigation into a New Frontier in Stealth Luxury. Stealth Luxury. Hmm, yeah.

Brian: [00:27:44] So it actually...

Phillip: [00:27:46] It was an interesting close. Maybe Rachel is just brilliant in the way that she closes all pieces. But she supposes that their career site had at least a month ago they posted for a global social media manager and maybe they either hired that person as this part of an elaborate campaign, or they're clearing the deck to make way for some next run up, you know, so that when they come back, they come back in a completely new way with no baggage. But yeah, the idea... So I love the sentence. "Perhaps the Bottega deletion is the ultimate act of stealth luxury. It will now be a brand that travels strictly by word of mouth, or if only the fans of a brand are posting about it, perhaps it will move like a secret throughout the industry with it items popping up organically by dint of consumer taste instead of beaming down like a mandate from the corporate account."

Brian: [00:28:57] She's so good. Oh, she's a great writer.

Phillip: [00:29:02] So this actually parallels really nicely. I mean, it's really what you just said is this idea of like a vacuum or a silence from the corporate account creates more space for other people to share on their own accord, which is kind of tied in to the story recently in The New York Times of Parade Underwear's success in 2020.

Brian: [00:29:37] Yes.

Phillip: [00:29:38] Parade's Jack DeFuria was on the show just about a month and a half ago and in late October, I think. And Jack is Co-Founder of Parade and Chief Digital Officer. He and Cami Téllez Co-Founded the brand in late 2019. They've barely got 13, 14 months in business and according to The New York Times ten million in sales, 700,000 pairs of underwear delivered in 2020 for what is ostensibly a value brand.

Brian: [00:30:16] So impressive.

Phillip: [00:30:16] That is found a way to crack the influencer or micro influencer, nano influencer Instagram code. Really, really impressive run up there. But their whole strategy on Instagram was to basically deliver free underwear to folks with as little as two thousand followers and ask them to post them with a brand guide of how they want the pictures to be taken to post pictures of themselves in exchange for the underwear if they felt so inclined. And that's how they've built their brand. And what an amazing run.

Brian: [00:30:52] They took over. They took over. Yeah, impressive. It is interesting. I think, if we look at sort of the types of brands that we're going to have coming out of the pandemic and the K shape recovery, to me, it feels like, you know, we're probably going to get into this a little bit in the Vision 2021 one report, which is coming very, very soon. But it seems to me that because brands have advanced over the past number of years and Amazon has become so flooded with knockoff brands and like the knockoff brands are like people struggle to get through. I mean, I wrote a whole article about that as well. Black Friday where I was just scrolling through endless sales of products that just had zero interest to me because I was just flooded with all of these knockoffs and all kinds of things, just horrible. But it seems to me that the types of brands that are going to be successful going into the 2020s are going to be ones that are branded and our broad market and do a really good job with branded broad market or going to be extremely luxury. And I think that, you know, we talked a lot about the premium mediocre brands. I think we're going to start to see a market for those sort of fade into the branded broad because you can accomplish a lot of what premium mediocre has done for less cost and premium mediocre brands are selling your stuff. If you take lower margin you go big. So because we've got a group that's like done very well and made a lot of money. Anyone that's in home and garden and in gym.

Phillip: [00:32:56] Right. Sure.

Brian: [00:32:56] We had all these certain types of businesses and people do really, really well. They're going to move from the HENRY category to the actually rich category, or at least they're going to feel rich enough to buy truly premium experiences.

Phillip: [00:33:12] Sure.

Brian: [00:33:13] And we're going to have another group that wants branded stuff that does sort of have that premium mediocre feel. But they're going to have the budget for Parade.

Phillip: [00:33:23] You keep saying premium mediocre as if it's a thing or that people understand it. And I don't want to disparage...

Brian: [00:33:32] Well I did write two articles about it. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:33:32] OK, yeah, but let's give people the benefit of the doubt if they hadn't read it. That phrase has been used a lot, but in a disparaging way.

Brian: [00:33:43] It has. Yeah, so it's mid market.

Phillip: [00:33:46] Middling brands that have an expensive price point, but are not as quality of products as they purport themselves to be.

Brian: [00:33:57] Correct.

Phillip: [00:33:57] I don't want to disparage Parade by calling them premium mediocre.

Brian: [00:34:02] No, I didn't. I wasn't. I was saying the opposite. I'm not disparaging Parade at all.

Phillip: [00:34:06] I mean, the price point is, is quite low actually compared to other brands in their category.

Brian: [00:34:12] No, no, no. I think parade's doing exactly what they should be doing, which is broad market well branded for the new generation.

Phillip: [00:34:21] Right. Ok.

Brian: [00:34:22] That is the future of commerce right there. Parade is the future of commerce in the approach that they took to building out their company. Well priced, lots of value, great brand, modern thought process.

Phillip: [00:34:37] Yeah.

Brian: [00:34:38] All of that stuff at a price that everyone can afford.

Phillip: [00:34:40] Inclusive. Incredibly inclusive.

Brian: [00:34:43] Price point's inclusive, everything about it is inclusive.

Phillip: [00:34:45] That's true.

Brian: [00:34:46] That is the sort of the next wave of brands is going to model after Parade. And I think actually didn't Jack talk about like DTC 2.0, DTC 3.0? And he's like, we are the next wave of DTC. And I agree with him. So I think that we're going to see sort of the ways of the world...

Phillip: [00:35:09] Yeah, and by the way, I think Jen Rubio is an investor in Parade.

Brian: [00:35:16] Yes. I'm not saying the people who created Away were not smart.

Phillip: [00:35:20] But what's really interesting about that is that they can help to inform the direction of the future of DTC 3.0, which is what I think Jack was saying, which is like wise is the man who takes counsel from other people. He and Cami are definitely receiving the benefit of how to build a business on the back of the very smart people who've come before them.

Brian: [00:35:51] So the flip side of all this, of course, is that I think we're going to see more luxury experiences and a lot of investment in luxury experiences because the rich are richer and so because the richer are richer and also we're seeing, you know, a lot of entrepreneurship right now. People are looking for ways to make money. And so I think you're going to see a lot of investment towards premium experiences because there are people that have a lot of disposable income right now.

Phillip: [00:36:19] To that point, there is a Twitter account that I follow that tweets words as they first appear in The New York Times. And this was an account that said it was called the word I believe was covidcation. I want to say covidcation. And there was this idea that there's all these like pent-up vacations that people have plenty of money to go take now that it's like there's a... Vaxication. That was the word. Sorry. It's way better than covidcation.

Brian: [00:37:00] Yeah. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:37:01] Vaxication. And just this idea that there's so much pent up demand and desire for certain things and folks have had 10 months or, you know, in some parts of the country, 11, 12 months to kind of figure out what they really don't need in their life and where they want to put more investment in things. I think you're right. But there is a bifurcation, right? The rich are going to get richer. So what is a truly premium experience then? You're saying it's more like Bottega, which is it's going back toward... It's not about access anymore. Anybody can have a Birkin bag if you have the money to spend on StockX.

Brian: [00:37:40] Correct.

Phillip: [00:37:40] It's about only those in the know. Right?

Brian: [00:37:45] And the experience. The experience is one that just makes you feel free. That's another thing about this whole time is we've all felt so contained because we have been. And so things that make people feel free... Oh, man. That's going to be a lot of money there. You know what this all reminds me of is Fargo Season 3. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:38:15] {laughter} Before we get there, I want to know how that ties in, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention our other sponsor MarketerHire. So let me do a quick little dip in here and then we'll figure out why Fargo Season 3 has anything to do with any of this. I got to ask the listeners a question. Are you torn? That's it. Are you torn? Are you torn between hiring an email marketer or growth marketer right now in 2021? You don't have to be because with MarketerHire you can staff a team of expert marketers on an hourly part time or a full time basis. So stop looking for the one, do it all marketer and instead work with the experts that have been pre vetted from MarketerHire. And you know what? If you act right now, they're going to give you a deal. Future Commerce listeners get $500 in credit when signing a contract before January 31st, 2021. You got to get it. You got to go to MarketerHire. Check them out right now. MarketerHire.com. You know, a very recent Harvard Business Review report said that 83% of business leaders reported that automation and digitalization are putting strong or extremely strong pressure on their organizations to find skilled talent. You can find skilled talent today at MarketerHire and tell them the Future Commerce sent you. MarketerHire.com and get that $500 credit. OK, Brian. Oh! MarketerHire.com/podcast. That's an important piece of it.

Brian: [00:39:43] You want that $500, you got to go with the slash podcast.

Phillip: [00:39:49] That's right. And tell him Future Commerce sent you when you sign up. And give them some love. We love the folks over at MarketerHire. OK, Brian, how is a raven like a writing desk? Tell me.

Brian: [00:40:03] Oh yes. So...

Phillip: [00:40:08] Season 3.

Brian: [00:40:08] Yeah, Fargo Season 3. The reason my brain went there is because there's the scene where Varga, who's like the most vile person you've ever seen on film, talks about what it actually means to be rich. And he talks about how the rich are invisible and you'll never even know that someone who is super rich exists. They have fleets of private planes. You never see them. You never know them. When they do go in public they'll take coach, and you won't even know that they're actually rich. It's this idea that you know, and this is sort of the fear that's in that character a little bit. But I wonder if... There's a lot of fear going on right now. And so I don't think this is too far off from people's thought processes right now. But they're afraid their money is going to be taken away from them because the disparity between rich and poor is getting so big. And so they don't really want to show off their wealth. They just want to be wealthy and live an invisible life. And obviously, that's that character and that's what that character said. But it just reminded me of that.

Phillip: [00:41:28] I can't get over the fact... I have not watched the show, although this is a fascinating premise and one that sounds right. So in my world, it is right. How could they possibly have a show called Fargo, and they have a character named Varga?

Brian: [00:41:46] They do.

Phillip: [00:41:46] That blows my mind. All right, I've got to check that show out. I hear very good things.

Brian: [00:41:54] Fargo's amazing. Highly recommended it.

Phillip: [00:41:56] I heard it's very good. We just finished the Flight Attendant on HBO Max. I don't know if you've heard anything about it.

Brian: [00:42:03] I haven't heard about it.

Phillip: [00:42:03] Kaley Cuoco. Very, very good.

Brian: [00:42:08] All right. What do you think about HBO Max? How's it coming for you?

Phillip: [00:42:12] Oh, my gosh. OK, total shift here. HBO Max might be my favorite streaming network right now. Definitely my favorite one that came out in 2020. Sorry Quibi.

Brian: [00:42:27] No, you mean or Roku.

Phillip: [00:42:30] Yeah. I guess Roku's going to buy the rights to the Quibi shows that nobody wanted to watch. You have to turn your TV vertical to get the Quibi thing.

Brian: [00:42:41] {laughter} Roku is going to start putting out TVs that you can turn.

Phillip: [00:42:44] Yeah TVs that just swivel for no reason, for no apparent reason other than to watch a Quibi show. So I love HBO Max. It's actually really good. So they have some great original programing. Ted Lasso is phenomenal. The Flight Attendant was really good. I hear sort of there's like a morning show, one that has like very star studded...

Brian: [00:43:06] Wait, Ted Lasso's on Apple. Is that on HBO Max, too?

Phillip: [00:43:08] Oh I'm sorry. You're right. No, it's on Apple Plus. You're right. I'm sorry. That's on Apple TV Plus. I'm getting it all mixed up right now. What are other HBO Max shows? Well, it's going to have all the Warner Brothers stuff. I watched Wonder Woman. I have a whole thing about that. But that's we won't go there.

Brian: [00:43:27] Have to go there someday. Someday.

Phillip: [00:43:29] We'll go there someday. People don't like things that aren't cynical. And that's what it is. That's the world that we live in now.

Brian: [00:43:37] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:43:38] It has to be dark and cynical for anybody to like it. That's kind of what it is. And because Wonder Woman wasn't that, so basically I won't save it for later. That's the whole take.

Brian: [00:43:48] Ok. Escapism is dead.

Phillip: [00:43:51] That's true. Yeah. We can't have, you know, wholesome... By the way. And in that and now we're just there, by the way. Sorry. Pedro Pascal is giving it everything in this performance. It's like probably one of the most insane performances of his entire career. It's an incredible performance and sort of misspent on this movie. It's a pretty good movie. It's an okay movie.

Brian: [00:44:17] That's so good. I love Pedro Pascal actually.

Phillip: [00:44:19] He's so good.

Brian: [00:44:20] Mandalorian notes aside, did you see the movie Prospect? It's really good.

Phillip: [00:44:25] No, I haven't seen it.

Brian: [00:44:27] I highly recommend it.

Phillip: [00:44:29] Anyway. HBO Max has a lot of great stuff. I mean, it's all a lot of the HBO stuff, but they've bundled in some stuff that I hadn't really considered. They have all of the Studio Ghibli stuff. I don't know if you watched any of that with your kids.

Brian: [00:44:47] No.

Phillip: [00:44:48] So like Spirited Away or Totaro.

Brian: [00:44:52] Awesome.

Phillip: [00:44:52] Just incredible, incredible films. There's a ton of stuff that I just didn't expect. Rick and Marty's on there. I'm basically just going to read from a list now. It's been really unexpected how good it is.

Brian: [00:45:07] Didn't it have some serious glitches, though? This is something that's really interested me, actually. When Wonder Woman was released, apparently there were a ton of people that couldn't watch it.

Phillip: [00:45:18] Oh, I watched it on launch day. It was fine. I didn't have any problems with it.

Brian: [00:45:21] Interesting. I saw a story around that..

Phillip: [00:45:26] Let me let me say this. Would I pay for HBO Max if I didn't already get it with my HOA? Probably not. I don't know.

Brian: [00:45:39] Ah ha! Ah ha!

Phillip: [00:45:39] But I'm very happy that I have it. I also get Peacock as well. It kind of all just happened. Like I just get it, and I just have it. So why not use it? Flight Attendant was actually surprisingly good. Is a really good show.

Brian: [00:45:54] Yeah. I think that's really interesting actually.

Phillip: [00:45:56] We're like officially done with the show. We've been done for like 20 minutes.

Brian: [00:45:59] Oh no, no we're not even close to done.

Phillip: [00:46:02] Oh no.

Brian: [00:46:03] Because think about this. So I just saw a story about bundling for cord cutters.

Phillip: [00:46:12] Yeah, like if you could take all of the networks.

Brian: [00:46:15] Yes. And manage all of them.

Phillip: [00:46:16] And have it as one price. And maybe, like have a way to flip between them really easily.

Brian: [00:46:24] Yes, and unsubscribe.

Phillip: [00:46:27] No or even just like maybe I just want to see what's happening on another network while I'm watching one. And I could just, like, hit a button and, like, go to another channel. They're all in channels all flowing next to each other. And I can just change channels. Put them all in one package and then I could just change channels. Brian?

Brian: [00:46:52] Hmm hmm.

Phillip: [00:46:53] I could change channels.

Brian: [00:46:56] {laughter} Wait a minute. Wait a minute.

Phillip: [00:46:57] I'm on this one channel. I don't like what's happening. And I can't go another channel.

Brian: [00:47:02] So let's say you're on this show. It's like called maybe like, I don't know, ABC.

Phillip: [00:47:07] Right. Right. I'm watching ABC.

Brian: [00:47:09] ABC and there could be like AMC, right.

Phillip: [00:47:15] Yeah. And then, like, I want to see what's happening over there. And I could just change channels.

Brian: [00:47:21] You could just change channels.

Phillip: [00:47:22] I wish somebody could just come up with this. This would be brilliant.

Brian: [00:47:24] A whole bunch of, like, options within that channel.

Phillip: [00:47:33] This joke is so done.

Brian: [00:47:34] Yeah we're done. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:47:34] I get it. I get it. That's effectively what I have today. I mean because I have Amazon Prime, I get prime video, which I never really signed up for. It just comes along for the ride. I watch all of this stuff. We have a smart TV. We have an Apple TV. You know, stuff just happens. I don't know how I get it. It just happens. I have it all.

Brian: [00:48:00] You just have it at all. It just comes with everything. You just buy T-Mobile and you just get it all.

Phillip: [00:48:07] I had to get Disney plus but it's the app is on the... Anyway, whatever. OK, long story short...

Brian: [00:48:15] To wrap all this up...

Phillip: [00:48:17] What does this have to do with anything? Bundling and unbundling.

Brian: [00:48:22] So bundling, that's just just business. What's old is new. What's new is old.

Phillip: [00:48:28] That's right.

Brian: [00:48:29] It happens over and over. Linear commerce and all that. So, yeah, that's actually not what that was in reference to.

Phillip: [00:48:38] I got it. Yeah.

Brian: [00:48:39] Yeah. So I want to go back to something that we got into at the beginning of the episode at the end of the episode, which was we talked extensively about all of the data gathering throughout this episode. Before that, we started talking about Weyland Yutani. Before that, we talked about Tesla. And as I was all this was happening, I didn't get to interject and say something that I want to say now, which was that Huxley was obsessed with Ford. And Ford pretty much runs the world in Aldous Huxley's writings.

Phillip: [00:49:23] Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Brian: [00:49:26] Maybe he got the car company wrong. Maybe it's a big T, instead of a big F. That's your Weyland Yutani.

Phillip: [00:49:35] {laughter} There it is.

Brian: [00:49:36] There it is.

Phillip: [00:49:37] It's Tesla. I like it.

Brian: [00:49:38] Comes full circle. I meant to get there a long time ago. Totally out of context, but there you go.

Phillip: [00:49:44] I'll let you have it.

Brian: [00:49:44] Elon. Tesla. Game over. Corporate overlords. Corporations taking leadership positions in public life. Game over.

Phillip: [00:49:53] Yeah, that's the corporate... If nothing else, we can trust capitalism to have a solve for everything, even insurrection in our nation's capital. All right. That's it.

Brian: [00:50:05] Peace.

Phillip: [00:50:05] Thank you for listening to Future Commerce. If you will, you can support the show in two ways. One, go subscribe to our emails. We love them and we know you will, too. We put out an essay twice a week. Once on Tuesday. It's called Insiders. It's a long, insightful and very deep piece, one we've mentioned multiple times here.

Brian: [00:50:29] Sometimes even poems.

Phillip: [00:50:29] Yeah. Sometimes. One time at least. And it was phenomenal, by the way, Brian. Many of the pieces that we've written have been cited here. Future Commerce Insiders comes out every Tuesday. You can get it at FutureCommerce.fm/Subscribe. When you sign up for that totally free, you'll also get The Senses, which is our email newsletter that goes out every Friday. And what's great about that particular newsletter is it kind of wraps up and puts into context some of the things that we think are really important that you need to know of how people connect to products and therefore the world around them and how we can engage in conscious commerce in a more human centric way. And so get both of those at FutureCommerce.fm/Subscribe. That's your way of supporting the podcast. The other way is it takes literally no effort on your part whatsoever. Go give us five stars on iTunes. Go do it right now. And leave us a review if you can. But it takes three seconds of your life. Just go to Future Commerce and rate it on iTunes. That would be really great if you did. Share it with a friend. OK, that's it. Thank you so much for listening to Future Commerce. Remember, the future is what you make of it. Let's build a future and shape that future for the betterment of all of us because we can. All right.

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