How do brands create retention strategies centered around content to keep their customers consistently purchasing? Emily Singer, the founder of consumer brand-focused newsletter Chips + Dip, joins the show to talk trends, brand analysis and how modern brands are using storytelling to create rich, immersive experiences for their customers.

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Main Takeaways:

  • Emily Singer, Marketing Manager at Alma and the Founder of the Chips + Dips newsletter, joins Brian and Philip on today's episode.
  • Brands are trending towards developing unique voices that automatically identify their target customers.
  • How do smaller brands compete with the widespread voice of larger brands?
  • Phillip and Emily have visited Showfields, but did it live up to the hype?

Chips + Dips: The Story Behind the Content (And The Author):

  • Emily gives us a walkthrough of a typical issue of Chips + Dips as well as what she prefers to cover in her writing. (Spoiler: there are dip recipes with every edition.)
  • Phillip asks Emily to give us a brief history of how Chips + Dips came about and to give us the "Emily Singer Story".
  • Early in her career, Emily wanted to work in media, and Chips + Dips came about because she wanted an outlet where she could write the stories that she wanted to write.
  • No one was creating a casual analysis of news and trends that focused on the brand stories instead of looking at numbers and revenue, so Emily created Chips + Dips to fill that void.

Untangling the Threads: Discovering Brand Trends:

  • Brian asks Emily to explain a bit how she untangles the threads she discovers in the world of brands and marketing.
  • By latching onto things that may seem insignificant or small, Emily can use her unique mind to piece together the bigger picture amidst several publications.
  • Emily blows Phillip's mind by letting him know that she has a separate Instagram account that just follows brands so it doesn't disrupt the flow of her interests on her main account. (Phillip also brings up how he doesn't let Brian choose music on his Spotify account.)

Bridging the Gap: Insights from a Direct to Consumer Insider:

  • Emily talks about her first direct to consumer experience with JackThreads (which was acquired by Thrillist) and what she did when working with the brand.
  • Most recently, Emily worked at Daily Harvest, and how the subscription service company differed from her other direct to consumer experience.
  • Phillip brings up how there are brands (such as JackThreads and Gilt Groupe) that harken back to a certain "era" of eCommerce and how these brands change with the times.
  • People are more thoughtful and intentional consumers nowadays which has caused brands to shift their focus to customer retention as opposed to flash sales.

Retail and Direct-To-Consumer: Competing For Your Attention:

  • Brian asks Emily to talk a bit more about content and the role that content plays in retail and brands.
  • In the retail space, brands are spreading their wings and trying to cast a wider net and provide customers with more ways to engage, and content is a simple and logical way to do that.
  • Outdoor Voices sells workout gear, but they also have a very robust Instagram story approach that allows consumers to engage with the brand differently.
  • "Brand is all about storytelling and building a rich, immersive experience."

The Power of Touchpoints: Reaching the Customer in New Ways:

  • Phillip brings up Haus, a brand that has one product, and how Haus needs a way and reason to talk to you outside of selling their product.
  • Do companies with a narrow vertical need to expand the number of customer touchpoints to remain relevant?
  • Emily discusses Great Jones, a cookware company, and how their strategy differs because what they sell is supposed to be a more permanent fixture in their customers' lives.
  • Brian references the episode with Charlie Cole from Tumi and how Tumi wants its customers to use their bags for a long time so it has to create new touchpoints to stay relevant with their customers.

Smaller Brand Strategies: How to Compete with the Big Guys:

  • Phillip remembers the panel he led at Commerce Next that covered how smaller brands need to reorient the way they view lifetime value to be customer-centric.
  • Floyd has partnered with Airbnb in a collaboration called Stay Floyd that features home rentals fully outfitted with Floyd furniture.
  • Brian cleverly points out that stories with multiple characters are the best stories, and when you think about brand partnerships, you see how their stories merge and create something more complete and powerful when told with others.
  • In the episode with Jeremy King from Pinterest, Jeremy spoke about how Pinterest was trying to lead its users to interact with the real world, and Phillip compares this to brands with a conscious.

The Most Interesting Store in the World: Did It Live Up to the Hype?:

  • Back in Episode 89 with Brandon Singer (Phillip mistakenly says it's Episode 97) was when Showfields was first discussed, and now Phillip and Emily recently visited the location.
  • Emily describes Showfields as one of the few companies trying to make a direct to consumer department store. (Neighborhood Goods is another one that is opening in New York this fall.)
  • When Emily first visited Showfields, there was only one floor and felt much more like an Instagram experience than an actual department store.
  • Each brand has its own micro experience, but there is no cohesion between the different brands because the Showfields brand is too strong and competing with the brands it contains. (Phillip agrees with some serious sass.)

The Other Side of the Screen: Phillip Tries a Thought Experiment:

  • Phillip tries a thought experiment and asks Brian and Emily to think about the persona of brands and not the persona of the consumer.
  • Should brands enable their consumers to be content creators to then leverage that consumer-created content to make their brand more socially aware?
  • What people care about and value is more important to a marketer than their personality.
  • Brands that are focused and have a strong story will find their audience without having to cast a wide net to capture the attention of a vast range of consumers. (Tracksmith is a great example of this.)

What the Future Holds: Emily's Predictions:

  • Emily predicts that retail space is only going to get increasingly crowded and increasingly noisy, thus making staying in business a challenge
  • Retention overgrowth and finding ways to foster brand affinity and lifetime value are going to be keys to staying in business and being successful.
  • You don't need to build a billion-dollar brand, you can stay small.
  • Building brands that are sustainable and thoughtful calls upon the people running the brands to be more thoughtful themselves when it comes to raising capital.

Brands Mentioned in this Episode:

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Retail Tech is moving fast, but Future Commerce is moving faster.

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