Episode 158
May 21, 2020

"Our Base Sense of Self is Heightened Right Now"

Peloton, Mirror, fanaticism, and the intersection of digital communities with real-world experiences. Featuring Ingrid Milman Cordy.

this episode sponsored by

Phillip and Brian are joined today by Ingrid Milman Cordy. How have brands contributed to community-based fanaticism or an individualized mindset? How has COVID-19 affected the online and in-person consumer experiences? What residual effects will the pandemic have on consumer experience? How can we be innovative in staying ahead of the curve on these changes?

PELOTON, MIRROR, AND THEIR DIVIDING LINE:

  • Ingrid owns a Mirror, which has proven an essential and loved piece of equipment in the time of COVID-19 because of its individualized and private user experience. 
  • Peloton has avoided accusations of “technology for the sake of technology” because of its contribution to building a connected, fanatical community.
  • Competitiveness contributes to a more community-based mindset in the likes of Peloton users, Crossfitters, etc.
  • Brands have an open market right now for niche devices supporting at-home and individualized experiences.
  • Brands have become like “tribes” of communities during a time of physical disconnection.

EVERYTHING HAS A BEGINNING, A MIDDLE, AND…:

  • Ingrid predicts that after all of this is over, people are going to want community and in-person experiences even more after the pandemic. 
  • Phillip plays ‘devil’s advocate' (and quotes his Insiders piece) and proposes that reality now is mimicking an unpleasant eCommerce experience.
  • Digital commerce is now the new preferred method of purchasing, so there is a need for online customer service to change with this, in incorporating better systems for handling post-purchase relations.
  • Phillip, Brian, and Ingrid discuss innovative ways to cultivate IRL experiences for customers on a digital platform in order to establish and keep positive online and IRL relationships. 

… AN END:

  • We discuss the possibilities for social changes in customer relations after the pandemic ends, in stronger communities being built or the likelihood of there being long-lasting effects for social norms in IRL experiences.
  • IRL experiences and eCommerce experiences have both changed dramatically in the last few months, in product affordability, access to products, as well as the jobs involved in the production, shipping, and selling of the product.

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

Brian: [00:00:03] I'm Brian.

Ingrid: [00:00:04] I'm Ingrid.

Phillip: [00:00:06] Ingrid's back.

Ingrid: [00:00:10] Not everyone can see me raising the roof. Which I always do. But no one can actually see me doing it. Hey, guys.

Phillip: [00:00:16] It's exactly the right time to be bringing back the old stuff, the raising of the roof. I'm eating... I've taken up cooking again and baking. And we made brown butter cookies. And I'm eating a brown butter cookie right now.

Ingrid: [00:00:32] Yum. Are those the ones that are like toasty on the bottom? Oh, yeah.

Phillip: [00:00:36] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let me get real close for this. Oh yeah. Oh it's gotten Maldon Salt on it.

Ingrid: [00:00:47] The flakes.

Brian: [00:00:48] That's the good stuff.

Ingrid: [00:00:49] Can't mess with the flakes.

Phillip: [00:00:50] If you've followed me for any amount of time, you'll know I've lost quite a bit of weight over the last four years. And this is a little bit of a stress point for me, that I'm even eating this, especially eating it on camera, because the thing that I'm worried about most is coming out of quarantine, the Q, as kids are calling it... Coming out having gained 20 pounds, which I'm now calling the Rona 20. Do you think that will catch on?

Brian: [00:01:20] Or the COVID 19.

Ingrid: [00:01:25] The COVID 19.

Phillip: [00:01:25] Yes, exactly. Ba dum chh. We did it.

Brian: [00:01:29] Oh man.

Ingrid: [00:01:29] I love that. I love it. And Brian, you're kind of on the opposite train here.

Brian: [00:01:33] I was until this weekend. Mother's Day weekend got me a little back, but no, I had been losing some weight. It's been good. It's been great actually.

Phillip: [00:01:43] You bought a rower.

Brian: [00:01:44] I bought a rower.

Ingrid: [00:01:44] Oh those are the best.

Brian: [00:01:45] I know. I know. I'm kind of like doing... I feel like a COVID stereotype right now. I'm getting all of the exercise equipment. I'm sort of keeping up my running routine, like, sort of. And, you know, I mean, I'm watching what I eat as well, which has been really, really good. Actually it's been interesting. I travel a lot and typically.

Phillip: [00:02:10] Not anymore you don't. {laughter}

Brian: [00:02:12] Not anymore I don't. Right. But it's interesting. When you travel, it's a little harder. At least it's been harder for me to watch how I eat. And at home, like when I'm just not traveling on a consistent basis, it's just a lot easier to keep track of things. So I COVID 19 could go the other direction for me, actually.

Phillip: [00:02:29] Yeah. You're going to lose the 19. Ingrid, is that a Mirror I see behind you?

Ingrid: [00:02:36] Yes, I. The Mirror is a very important piece of furniture in my house. It's like our roommate. My husband and I use it almost every day for like all sorts of different things. And it even has meditation on it, which is super cool. And we live in a small, one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn. And this is our gym. You're seeing it. There's like a lot of weight over here and there's like yoga blocks, and we get it all done. Strength... Like everything you need, which is super cool, especially because, like, you can't go outside without your face covered. So, like, running outside is definitely compromised. Although shout out to all of the runners in New York that are running with masks on. I give them so much credit.

Brian: [00:03:25] Oh my gosh.

Ingrid: [00:03:26] That just seems so hard. I have a hard time, like walking three blocks with a mask on, but of course I do it. But they're running and they're sweating and I'm just like, wow, they're such an inspiration. I love my Mirror. I think it's like the coolest thing. The quality of the workouts are great. Yeah. Highly recommend.

Phillip: [00:03:45] This is such an interesting thing. And this ties into the retail story a little bit. We have been very critical in the past of like technology for technology sake. Right? You could argue that Peloton is an outlier if having created a connected, fanatical community through technology on an otherwise commonplace, you know, piece of exercise equipment. How thankful are you right now for your Mirror, Ingrid. It seems like it's very useful to you in your daily life.

Ingrid: [00:04:22] Yeah. So my birthday was in February, and I got it for myself as a birthday gift. {laughter}

Brian: [00:04:32] There's a time and a place to buy yourself a birthday present.

Ingrid: [00:04:35] Yeah. I was like, I'm gonna do it. And it came like the first week of lockdown, and it was just... So we have not experienced life in lockdown without a Mirror. And I am very, very grateful. I feel like my marriage is healthier. I'm certainly healthier. All of that pent up stress has a place. You know, there's like boxing classes and pilates and barre. And there's just like so much and so many different options. There's like live classes and recorded classes. I have noticed, though, that people who are Peloton users are different than the Mirror users.

Phillip: [00:05:22] {laughter}

Ingrid: [00:05:22] No hate at all.

Phillip: [00:05:22] I'm sorry. I don't know what you mean by that...

Ingrid: [00:05:29] It's similar to how back when, like Soul Cycle, everyone got all culty and crazy about Soul Cycle. There's something about cycling that just creates, like, really, really overzealous fanatical community. I don't really know what it is, but Mirror, which is also a great workout. It has all this variance in what you can do. I feel like I'm not like, you know, thanking my Mirror and posting it on social media, and I don't really see them like in my feed, whereas Peleton like I know that that person worked out. I know what they did. I know how much they love their instructor, like daily. And I'm like, thank you. I guess. I don't know why.

Brian: [00:06:15] It's interesting. I wonder if, like...

Phillip: [00:06:17] You know why. You're just not going to say why.

Brian: [00:06:20] Wait. Why do I know why. What?

Ingrid: [00:06:21] I don't know why. Do you think I know why?

Phillip: [00:06:23] I think everybody knows why. It's the same person who's probably, you know, who is mostly plant based. And also, you know, it's like they're going to tell you. It just attracts that kind of person. And I think it's because a lot of it is the quantified self and the gamification of it of competing with people. And when fitness comes into effect, then it's like, yeah, there's like a certain kind of a person. And Crossfitters, you know... There's a community competitiveness that has a very sticky component to it in these like little niches. And that's great. Mirror seems like a real middle of the road version of it where. Actually there is an incredible interview that I'm trying to find right now while we're talking with Mirror's co-founder on the modern retail podcast. I'm having trouble finding it at the moment. I'll find it in a second. But long story short, it's like the idea of it was that it grows with you and it becomes like fundamentally unique to each person that uses it. So if you like barre, then you use it for barre. It's also like great in like the class past type sense where you can sample a lot, but then you'll find what sticks for you and then you'll go deep on that. And I think from a discovery platform perspective, Peloton's only good for one thing. Your legs go round in circles and someone yells at you, you know, and that's it.

Ingrid: [00:07:58] But that's probably what breeds that community because you're all doing the same thing. Similar to Crossfit. Whereas you're right, it's like it's much more individualized. So I'm not as connected to, like the Mirror community, even though they have like during the live classes, they'll be like, "Shout out to Ramon. He's killing it today." You know, they try. But I think you're right in the sense that it's not like all of us doing the same type of exercise and like uniting in that.

Brian: [00:08:29] It's not a shared experience as much.

Ingrid: [00:08:32] As much.

Brian: [00:08:32] Yeah, yeah, that's really interesting. Have you guys seen Studio Dot live? Another interesting one.

Phillip: [00:08:39] No. What is that?

Brian: [00:08:40] It is a... Shout out to old school FC alum, Jason L Baptiste.

Phillip: [00:08:48] Oh wow. Oh yeah, yeah.

Brian: [00:08:48] Yeah. Co-founded by Jason L Baptiste. It's another live work out community. It's interesting. And I think they've got I believe they actually have some hardware. I believe they've got an app and kind of like all of the above. But I think it's pretty interesting seeing more entrants into this space as there's been such clear success. I wonder how that's going to change these communities as we see more and more niche devices and additional communities pop up. Right now is a perfect time to be in the market. So I think that it could adjust how we think about Peloton in general and also like work out communities. It's interesting, too. I think we're seeing a lot of different... I feel like this is a great example of the types of things that we're doing as a result of being stuck at home. It would be interesting to kind of think through some of the other things that are going through similar transformations. Like the gaming community. Gaming is out of control right now.

Phillip: [00:10:05] Ok. The meta topic here. You're right. You're right about all of this. I remember Emmett Shine, of Pattern Brands, who also is an alum of the show, recently was quoted somewhere. I can't remember where it was. He said that brands are like the new tribes. And I feel like that is very accurate because you kind of find your tribe. And one of the things about being physically disconnected from people is that I feel like our sense, our base sense of self, and how we express ourselves is heightened because your feeling of belonging is at jeopardy.

Brian: [00:10:48] Yes.

Phillip: [00:10:48] And so we become more tribal in these moments. Ingrid, what do you think about that as like the sort of overarching thing here?

Ingrid: [00:10:57] Yeah, I mean, I think you're right. To me, I have seen the two extremes where it's like people who need that type of interactivity and are so used to being like parts of bigger communities. They have gone and gone full on into like I'm going to Zoom for the next 12 hours. Like, I'll see you later. I'm just going to, like, wake up, and do it all over again. I'm going to invite all of my Zoom, and Zoom happy hours and Zoom everything...

Brian: [00:11:29] So many Zooms.

Ingrid: [00:11:30] So many Zooms. So, like, you've got that. And then you've got the people who are sort of naturally more, I would say, like classically introverted who are not taking this as I think hard as like us extroverts. And they're like actually going a little bit further into their cocoon and shifting away into that. But what I would say is that when this is over, and this will be over at some point. Everything has a middle... Beginning, middle and end. I keep saying that every day. It's your mantra. But when this is over, I think that people are going to want actual community, like real connected in person experiences, much more than they have recently leading up to this. You know how we've all gone into our phone worlds and our computer worlds and our individualized worlds? I think that we're going to be so grateful to have the ability to gather again after this that both people on both sides of the spectrum are going to want that more than ever.

Brian: [00:12:39] That resonates with me hard core. I am so ready for that. And I think it's interesting, like we're all talking about, you know, the new normal. This whole idea that we're going to be more and more disconnected. But what if there's like a weird backlash to this? I think that's what you're kind of getting at.

Ingrid: [00:12:58] Yeah.

Brian: [00:12:58] Like, actually, the net result of this isn't that we get more disconnected. It's that we all really want to be around each other more. It's almost like when you go through any great crisis and you go to overcome it. You actually end up in like a stronger place than you were before.

Ingrid: [00:13:17] Totally.

Brian: [00:13:17] And so I think there might be... I think you're such a good point. Maybe we actually should be ready to invest in real life experiences.

Ingrid: [00:13:27] Yeah, I think all the knee jerk reaction is to start thinking about like, oh, how do we bring more things into the home, and how do we continue to be able to do this? And I think that's very like we're living this world now and we're reacting to that world. But I think, like really innovative people will be thinking about how do we build stronger, more resilient communities going forward.

Brian: [00:13:49] Wow.

Phillip: [00:13:52] You both are probably right. But since you're in agreement, I guess I'll just I'll play the devil's advocate.

Ingrid: [00:14:00] Please do.

Brian: [00:14:00] {laughter} You wanted to anyway. So you might as well.

Phillip: [00:14:05] He knows me too well. I just wrote a piece for Insiders on our weekly essay, which, by the way, you can go get at FutureCommerce.fm. If you're not on Insiders, you're missing out. We drop a new essay every week. And this week Ingrid is dropping some knowledge on all of us, which I think is loosely titled Data is King. But long live the Queen.

Ingrid: [00:14:32] That's right, baby.

Phillip: [00:14:33] I'm going to have to ask for a little bit more context on that in a second. But the way that you're going to catch her really, really thoughtful piece or anything that we write is by subscribing to FC Insiders. You can do that right now at FutureCommerce.fm. Go do that. But I wrote a piece about body swap movies. It was mostly about movies and body swaps.

Ingrid: [00:14:56] Freaky Friday. I loved it.

Phillip: [00:14:57] And 13 going on 30. And my weird obsession with body swap films. But aside from that, there is a thing that I wrote in here that I was very proud of myself for having written, which I will quote to you now. {laughter}

Brian: [00:15:10] He's quoting himself. Watch out.

Phillip: [00:15:16] I know. I know. It says... So in understanding what real life retail experiences, real life experiences are like versus online experiences now, and it's basically recounting a trip that I had when I went to Lowe's home improvement store. And it says this... "As I spoke to a cashier, it felt like eCommerce of old. I had a mask on, as did she. And there was glass between us. Neither of us could hear each other. And she couldn't tell that I was smiling. It felt like the real life equivalent of a no reply abandoned cart email from an eComm brand. You're asking me if I found everything I need, but you're physically incapable of hearing my response." And I think that when we all get to this place of pent up desire to have real life experiences, again, like it or not, there will be barriers that will have to be present between us. From a safety perspective, even if they're not mandated by the government... There was I think at Axios and Dan Primack had a piece over the weekend about social media shaming being out of control. And I think that there's this idea... In the Atlantic, by the way, Brian, your favorite journal...

Brian: [00:16:30] You're quoting The Atlantic? {laughter}  

Phillip: [00:16:32] The Atlantic had a piece two weeks ago saying that there are folks who are engaging in policing that think they're doing detective work, like you wearing a mask, and you don't... Or you're in line for senior hours at Publix, but you shouldn't be because you don't look like a senior. Like all these like little things that people are finding new ways to soapbox about...

Ingrid: [00:16:58] Citizen's arrest.

Phillip: [00:16:59] Exactly. Oh, God. That's so... That's very. Ouch. But long story short, people are going to have, whether it's mandated or not, like from a government level or from the Centers for Disease Control recommendation perspective, there's going to be a long lasting social norm that is developing right now around behavior. And you will have your defense up regardless whether there's a mask present or not. And I wonder how in person experiences really fair in that regard. That was a very long form rebuttal. I'm sorry.

Brian: [00:17:36] This makes me sad.

Ingrid: [00:17:36] I think it's fair. I really I do think it's fair. I'm almost just... And maybe it comes down to like the science getting here faster. Like either a vaccine or a treatment or more standardized antibody tests or like something that can be a piece of science that people can rely on. So I think I was having this conversation earlier with someone about the anxiety then this pandemic has ensued is mostly about the ambiguity around it.

Brian: [00:18:14] Yeah.

Ingrid: [00:18:14] It's like there aren't clear guidelines by the government or by doctors other than, "Stay at home. Wash your hands. Don't touch your face," which is like we've all been told that since kindergarten. But like, you know, in a much more guarded manner. I mean, there's no OK, there's X amount of strains of this. This is how you can 100% tell that you have it. These are the things that you need to look out for. We just, we don't have that. And because of that ambiguity, because it's brand new disease, it's not anyone's fault, it's now become like politicized. And people form their opinions and get on their soapboxes and stuff. And I just think that with some of that ambiguity being cleared up through more substantial time to have science that may help us with our anxieties of returning back to society.

Brian: [00:19:14] Yeah, I agree with you there. I do think this is unfortunate, and I think this is the case and it actually makes me incredibly sad, but I think kind of going forward, I'm really concerned that there's gonna be a like last thing sort of psychological component to this, a little bit of like a... Even if once we do have the science, and we do get to a point... But like, I'm worried that there's gonna be like an element of like cultural, "Oh, I can't touch you. You can't touch me." And maybe there are people out there that think that's a good thing. I don't want that to be a lasting effect of this. I think it's important for people to be connected by touch and by face and by voice. And being in person means so much to me.

Ingrid: [00:20:02] I agree.

Brian: [00:20:02] And so I hope that isn't like that sort of post...

Ingrid: [00:20:05] Residual.

Brian: [00:20:07] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:20:07] Yeah... But I feel like the stock on in person touching has been going down since "Me too." So it's like... I'm not bullish on the... I'm serious. I'm dead serious.

Brian: [00:20:20] I'm agreeing with you. No. I know. I agree.

Ingrid: [00:20:22] But there's so many there's like science behind the physiological effects of being hugged and giving a hug. There's really a measurable change in people's attitudes toward themselves, towards other people, their moods. If you give 30 hugs a day or whatever, like you're...

Phillip: [00:20:45] You might be Joe Biden?

Ingrid: [00:20:45] ...exponentially making the world a better place.

Brian: [00:20:49] Oh, oh. And we just went there.

Phillip: [00:20:52] Here's a question. What does the eCommerce or digital equivalent of, you know, a hug?

Ingrid: [00:20:58] Discount.

Brian: [00:21:01] {laughter}

Phillip: [00:21:01] {laughter}

Ingrid: [00:21:01] That was easy.

Brian: [00:21:02] That was easy.

Phillip: [00:21:05] One hundred off three hundred at Todd Snider. That is your digital equivalent of a hug.

Brian: [00:21:11] I think that, like, good customer service is obviously like really, really important. Having that post purchase touch, like let alone the sales touch. That's one thing. But like post purchase coming back around and showing you actually care... It's super important. That's why it's super awesome that we're sponsored by Gladly, which has the software to do stuff like that really, really, really well.

Phillip: [00:21:36] Did you just slip into an ad spot? You're amazing.

Brian: [00:21:42] {laughter} I actually believe in it. So it makes it easy to talk about them.

Phillip: [00:21:44] What if customer service could just feel like a conversation between friends, Brian?

Brian: [00:21:50] Man, you just made it weird, man.

Ingrid: [00:21:53] I love. I love what Gladly does. Like, I think that that's a very, very cool solution as an eCommerce professional. I think it's very cool. I'm down with their whole mission.

Phillip: [00:22:02] Thank you.

Brian: [00:22:03] It's super easy to talk about because actually it makes sense right now. So anyway.

Ingrid: [00:22:07] Yeah. It does.

Brian: [00:22:08] The point is, right now, I think that actually if we talk about Freaky Friday. And we talk about how eCommerce and like digital experiences are now the preferred method of interacting, then customer service and having a plan and a system for handling post purchase is the hug that you need to provide to your customers right now.

Ingrid: [00:22:36] Definitely. Yeah.

Brian: [00:22:38] Yes.

Ingrid: [00:22:41] I couldn't agree more.

Phillip: [00:22:41] So we've covered a bunch of things. We covered the idea that... We've covered a lot of ground here. I don't need to recap it all. What do you think about this idea that... What happens to us in a rebound? Let's say that the there's some seasonality to our needing to go in and out of quarantine for sometimes in certain cities and maybe not at a national level, but in certain areas. Some people are more connected than others. Some people have more freedom to move about than others. Maybe travel to certain countries is restricted for a time. What do you think the recovery effort looks like? And does it make sense for brands to just kind of hedge their bets and make a bunch of eCom and digital relationship building investments now, you know, just to kind of future proof themselves, so to speak? Ingrid, any thoughts about that?

Ingrid: [00:23:38] Oh, I think it's critical. I think it was critical before this all happened. And I think now it's just like hopefully getting to this C suite or whoever is making those larger budgetary investment decisions to show, like not only is this going to help us now in this time period, but it's going to allow this, establish this one to one relationship with our consumers, regardless of where they shop, forever. Because once we... First we're getting this rich first party data that we've never had before because of the influx of transactions and people visiting and things like that. But like, let's action on that data and just take some insights and then use it as a big opportunity that we've never gotten before to have those relationships with our customers. And I'm not even talking about brands that have their owned and operated stores. I'm talking about the majority of brands that are on the shelves of wholesale businesses like Target and Walmart and all those guys that don't otherwise, other than their eCommerce direct to consumer, don't have the opportunity to learn about their customer and establish that relationship. And even if the customer goes back and does decide to keep shopping at Target the way they once were, you at least know about them. You can quantify, oh, this person does shop at Target. We can email them about that or we can text them about that and it's OK. But I think that the need for establishing a one to one relationship with their consumer was necessary before. And now it's just like a no brainer.

Brian: [00:25:22] Good thoughts. Yeah, I would agree with that. It's actually kind of getting back to what we talked about before, which was we were making investments in technology maybe a little bit ahead of the curve. And this is accelerating everything. So if we're not making investments... If this doesn't spurred you to make an investment. I don't know what will at this point. And so I do think that it's kind of a no brainer. And then also I do think that preparing for if you do have some sort of way to create an IRL experience in the future, I think that getting ready for that is important. And maybe that looks like, you know, getting something set up where we are social distancing. Because I think people are going to be desperate, even in that context, to see each other.

Ingrid: [00:26:15] What you like use technology to book your appointment to come into a store because there're limits to how many people can be in a retail store and then you can be like, "Oh, I need to go to Lululemon..." I just always use Lululemon. But "I want to go to Lululemon. I want to be there around noon. I filled in the slot," and instead of having crazy queues outside of every single retail store the way that we do with groceries right now, that's another way to use technology. And then you can get some data from that. And you can make the experience better because the store employees know that the person is going to come in, and they can prepare for them knowing, oh, you are a yogi. You're a runner. You row, or whatever. And being able to tailor those experiences.

Phillip: [00:27:09] I think that that would be like for, at least for a non big box store experience, would be like best in class. That would provide.

Ingrid: [00:27:21] And it's not that hard to do.

Phillip: [00:27:22] Well, it's not. But I think that there's no great motivator like competition or boundaries that are sort of put on your business. I think having to do that will spur us all forward on that front. I love that. Plus, you're going to learn more about your customer. You are going to have a better relationship with them for sure.

Ingrid: [00:27:45] Exactly.

Phillip: [00:27:45] This is super interesting, though, even with, let's take Target, for example. Target last week, I think story is about a week or two old now, but Target put out its quarter sales, which included March, which most of March was locked down in the United States. They said quarter to date same store sales rose 7%. Rose. Even with all of the quarantines in place and of that, then they had more than 100% growth in digital and month to date in March digital same store sales were up 275%. So if you were to boil that down, you know, Shipt alone, added more than 100,000 new shoppers in the month of March. And that doesn't account for half of the month not being... Like that's basically only half of the month. So, yeah, like people were shopping more at Target. They grew 100% in digital. And the people that went to the store decided to use, like, order ahead pick up options that are available in various places. I think that is the template for the future is the assisted in-store experience. Target's going to do it on a like best fit average that is probably not purpose-built or good for anybody, like any one person. But as for the masses, think about what specialty stores could do to make that experience just ultra slick.

Brian: [00:29:29] Yes.

Ingrid: [00:29:31] Totally. I mean, that's like, you know, we've talked to like Allstair from Hero before, and I just think that that's such a cool thing for Hero. They've been like killing it because so many people are coming... So just to give everyone... Hero is what connects your store associates with your online consumer. So when things are slow in the store, which, you know, it's definitely the case now, but has been even leading up to now, your store associates who are really well trained and know a lot about your product can talk to your consumers. And so they've been onboarding so many new brands. But I think like another iteration of that is what's the roadmap for when stores open back up and how can we double down on this approach? And how do we continue that type of personalization, regardless of what channel they're shopping in?

Brian: [00:30:21] I think it's a really good point. Like, it's interesting we keep coming back to I think that the one the one aspect of all of this. I think that that's the opportunity here is to create more tailored experiences because we have better data. And I guess I'm just summarizing what we've already said. But that's sort of the take away. Whatever way that you feel like you can best get to one to one with your customers, whether it be through, you know, a curated in-store experience or something else. I think that that's the key. Now is a good time to get to know your customers better and then work that into your shopping processes.

Ingrid: [00:31:02] Yeah, yeah. The time is to stop looking at what you're doing right now for COVID, because honestly, as a consumer, I am so done with COVID related commercial. Like "We're all in this..." Like I can't. The only stuff I can still deal with, which I'm so grateful for, is all the like Thank Yous to the doctors and nurses and first responders and you know, all of those people. I think that those are incredible. But like as a brand, please stop telling me how we're in this together.

Phillip: [00:31:33] Yeah, I had a Twitter rant about this today. This also sort of being tired over... Think about how much fatigue we've had around messaging and certain things in crises and how much is coming from brands. People are sort of, I think people are getting a little bit tired of brands, brands being the standard bearers of every social movement. Brand leadership on its own is is like very hit and miss and very rarely in between. And so I'm of the mindset that a technology assisted future, where people shop from each other and from curated product selections, like think of Spotify playlists but, you know, for social commerce. That's where I'm heading.

Brian: [00:32:24] I'm on board with that.

Ingrid: [00:32:25] Kind of like the "Like to Buy it" thing, like on Instagram with influencers.

Phillip: [00:32:29] That's exactly. Right. But, you know, but just for normies, because in my mind, Ingrid is not going to send me a GDPR email. She's not going to send me a COVID email. Ingrid's just Ingrid. And I want to buy whatever Ingrid buys. Right?

Ingrid: [00:32:46] Yeah. No, I agree.

Phillip: [00:32:47] All right. Well that kind of fell flat. I'm excited about that idea. I don't know y'all. We're also we're the way that we acquire... So this is an interesting thought. The pendulum swung towards you having direct relationship with so many brands. And now we have a cacophony of brands who yell at us about all kinds of things, whether it's a hug from them with a discount per Ingrid or they're like positioning on whatever social issue and trust washing and all the like. I'm curious if the pendulum doesn't swing back to life was simpler when we had one relationship with the retailer, and they managed the relationships with the brands. Every brand having my email...

Ingrid: [00:33:41] I think that's what we're seeing in the domination of Target. Target is slowly trying to become that arbiter. And I think that they're getting really, really good at knowing what's in the zeitgeist.

Phillip: [00:33:57] Yeah.

Ingrid: [00:33:57] They're doubling down on clean beauty. They're getting much more into health and wellness and they're definitely like tapping in in a real way to what's happening in society. And I think that for purchases that are at that mainstream level, they are becoming more that. For sure.

Brian: [00:34:22] This is a good example of the next step up from that.

Phillip: [00:34:24] Brian, there was a story... I don't know if we covered it. It was maybe three years ago or so or in February. It feels like the same length of time. That Target was launching a new luggage brand. Yeah, it was in February. And it was called Open Story.

Brian: [00:34:41] Oh, yeah.

Phillip: [00:34:43] And it was to compete with Away at a just a little bit less than that price point.

Brian: [00:34:50] Yeah. I think I actually looked at some of those like in store initially. I was looking at some of Target's luggage. It's interesting.

Phillip: [00:34:56] A couple hundred bucks or one hundred and fifty bucks or so instead of, you know, $300. They're trying to do the Casper thing, you know, provide a cheaper option in store. They really have nailed that. Ingrid, I think you're right. And that's why I think I said back in January in our Vision 2020 was something like Target has been the chief beneficiary of the DTC era because all these brands are doing R&D for Target's in-house.

Ingrid: [00:35:28] Yeah. We talked about that.

Phillip: [00:35:28] Yeah.

Ingrid: [00:35:29] Totally. I completely agree. And honestly if Amazon changed a little bit about the way that they approach consumer products, like fashion and beauty and things like that, I think they would be even bigger, which is scary to think about.

Brian: [00:35:47] I do think, sort of the counterpoint to this is Nordstrom just closed twelve department stores. They sort of were like the standard bearer in being that arbiter before for a certain type of consumer. And so it's interesting. Maybe it's just we don't trust classic arbiters. That's where we're at. We want new tastemakers. And maybe it's more than just like education or just selection. But it's like they kind of want the people that are going to have that relationship with us, that they can go a step beyond and be sort of a tastemaker.

Phillip: [00:36:31] Yeah. Yeah. You're breaking up a little bit again, Brian.

Brian: [00:36:35] Yeah. Maybe we're blending roles between that arbiter and that tastemaker.

Ingrid: [00:36:44] I think there's something to that for sure. But I also think that the Nordstrom example... I love Nordstrom. I've been a hardcore Nordstrom fan my whole life. But that is like a solidly middle to upper middle class price point. And what we're seeing in society is that is the divide is coming pretty... It's getting bigger. So the people who may have shopped at Nordstrom before are with the increase in quality that's available at Target, they're like, "I don't need to spend what I would at Nordstrom before." And then the people who would never walk into a Target are already shopping in their own individual boutique situation anyway. And so I think that Nordstrom has sort of hit in two different directions.

Brian: [00:37:41] Interesting. You're talking about the death of the sort of like upper middle class, not upper middle, but like the high end of the middle class.

Ingrid: [00:37:51] The high end of the middle class. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:37:51] Brian, just to remind you, your bandwidth is pretty bad. You're breaking up quite a bit.

Brian: [00:37:57] What happened here? Disappeared. I'm done. All right. Well, I think I've made my point. I'll shut up now.

Phillip: [00:38:05] You're good. You're good. I just don't want your points to be lost. I'm sorry, bud. Just kind of wrapping up a little bit, I think the bigger fear is... We talked about tribalism. I do think that if we weren't already being sort of segmented in the United States of America into haves and have nots prior to an economic downturn from, you know, social distancing, which whatever, that is where we are, then we're having a further entrenchment of that in that digital jobs and digital professionals who were already probably doing quite well before coronavirus are probably still working and still now saving money. The gap has widened even further in two months. And something that traditionally would have happened over a few years happened in two months. And so I worry about...

Brian: [00:39:14] You're breaking my heart, man.

Phillip: [00:39:15] Yeah, I know.

Brian: [00:39:16] It's true though. It's true. It's true.

Phillip: [00:39:16] I worry about the ultimate direction of everything. Every brand. Every eCommerce experience. Every retail experience. Because it all has an impact. Right? Not just on the affordability of goods or access to goods, but the jobs that come along with those in making products and getting them to market and getting them into stores and then selling them to the end consumer. So that's a point of worry. But anyway, final thoughts. Ingrid.

Ingrid: [00:39:52] Oh, we're going to be OK. We're going to get through this, and we will be better and stronger and faster in the end.

Phillip: [00:40:02] {laughter} Yay.

Brian: [00:40:02] That is a good place to end it. Thank you, Ingrid. That was pretty dark, Phillip.

Phillip: [00:40:07] I was just saying where we were, but thank you, Ingrid, for brightening up. Any final thoughts? I won't say anything after you're done. Promise.

Brian: [00:40:18] {breaking up sounds}

Phillip: [00:40:19] No. It's...

Ingrid: [00:40:23] His computer has just shut him down. {laughter}  

Brian: [00:40:23] Yeah. It's done for.

Phillip: [00:40:25] All right. Well...

Brian: [00:40:25] That's my brain actually. That was really my brain, not my computer.

Phillip: [00:40:30] Thank you so much for watching this or listening over on our podcast feed. You can catch every episode that we've ever made at FutureCommerce.fm. Get on our FC Insiders newsletter that goes out every Sunday at 8am. It's a preparation, if you will, for the week and the years to come. What's ahead and a roll up of our thoughts of the things you need to know as an eCommerce operator in your business. Whether you're in a brand or you work in retail. If you're in this business and you need to stay up on not just news, but a distillation of the things that are important, we've got you covered and we cover all of that and Insiders and in spades. All right. Thanks for listening. And now let's get out there and get back to work and shape a future we can all be proud of.

Brian: [00:41:15] Ok everybody. Thank you.

Phillip: [00:41:16] Can we all do the wave bye?

Brian: [00:41:17] Yeah the wave. Same time. Raise the roof, Ingrid.

Phillip: [00:41:20] {laughter} Raise the... {laughter} Yeah.

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