Main Takeaways:

  • Brian and Phillip are joined in today's episode by guest host extraordinaire, Ingrid Cordy, the Vice President of Global E-Commerce and Consumer Experience at e.l.f. Cosmetics.
  • The direct to consumer industry is taking a shift towards profitability, and significant changes are happening to accompany it.
  • Why are smaller companies expected to innovate and scale entire categories?
  • Larger and more established brands are no longer the most relevant in the spaces that they helped define.

Update: Shoptalk Postponed

The Profitability Shift: The End of an Era?

  • Recently, it was announced that founder Ty Haney is stepping down from her role as CEO at Outdoor Voices.
  • Despite getting their name out there and establishing themselves as a leader in the athleisure space, the company was losing two million dollars a month.
  • With as much innovation and inspiration that has been shown by direct to consumer brands, we are going to start seeing people expecting profits.
  • You can do a lot of things right (like Outdoor Voices) and still have trouble reaching profitability.
  • Do customers only want to live their lives with products in their periphery, and have the recent trends of content channels and customer experience just been fads?

A Shift In Perspective: Ego Shifts Over Time

  • Is it egocentric to think that your brand is changing the world and bringing people together?
  • The concept of luxury and the aspirational point of view that comes with it has changed from living the lifestyle of your dreams to thinking that we are saving the world and acting differently.
  • There is a bit of delusion in both of these viewpoints, but that delusion is necessary because we need to aspire to something.
  • There is a lot of pressure on a brand when you are venture-backed to grow at an exponential rate that might not be best for the brand as a whole.

Real-Life Comparisons: Comparing and Contrasting

  • Every single thing that is driving the economy stems from our current unchecked spending culture.
  • For comparison, what is it that lululemon is doing that Outdoor Voices is not when it comes to being profitable?
  • In the case of Amazon, they invested in infrastructure in their growth stages that allowed their business to run better as opposed to high spending in regards to its content production.
  • Private Equity knows to build businesses that have profitability while still considering growth and scale.
  • Has the era of retail owning fashion and apparel companies come to an end?
  • Brandless is ceasing operations after less than three years in business.

Looking Back to Look Ahead: Predicting Trends from the Future Commerce Report

  • Smart growth is the most significant trend for 2020, as predicted by the Future Commerce Vision Report.
  • You need a sustainable story not just in terms of the environment, but sustainable in terms of your business metrics and goals.
  • Why do we have expectations of smaller companies to innovate and scale categories so quickly?
  • Do consumers not care about brand anymore because we have gotten too good at copycatting?

Sifting Through the Gloom: It's Not All Bad

  • There are still brands out there that are growing smart and profitable direct to consumer businesses like Frank & Eileen.
  • Phillip harkens back to the optimism a year ago around direct to consumer businesses that wasn't just about consumerism.
  • The new creative and innovative brands are going to have a 2-3 year reign in a cycle that will eventually be replaced by larger players that can copy the best practices of those innovative smaller brands.
  • Building good brands takes time, and you can't always expect to take over the world with your business ventures.

Major Changes Across the Board: The Balance of Power is Shifting

  • The environment and the fashion style that Gap created is now the trend, and they are no longer the biggest player in their style.
  • Pier 1 just filed for bankruptcy in a time when they could be making a big splash and make their brand even more prevalent in the current climate.
  • The free-wheeling nature of getting funding is going to be disrupted because investors are going to be taking more time and putting more effort into what they are investing in.
  • There is a lot of money out there to be invested, and there is almost a desperation to spend these funds that results in riskier investments.

Outside Opposition: Government Interference:

  • The FTC sued to block the acquisition of Harry's by Schick, but they approved the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint.
  • What were the reasons behind this blocking?
  • There was finally a success story of a hugely successful direct to consumer brand being acquired and yet the deal was blocked by the government.
  • Why does the FTC approve some mergers that seem to be more egregious from an antitrust perspective?

Going Out on a Positive Note: Ridiculous Collabs

Brands Mentioned in this Episode