We ask the question - is social activism by brands virtue-signaling or tone-deaf marketing? Listen now!
- Woke-washing has become more and more prevalent in today's economy, where social awareness is a major selling point.
- Are there ways to be socially conscious without completely being dedicated to a cause or movement?
- Woke gatekeepers are the first to point out how brands are deviating from their message, even if those brands are putting in the extra work to remain socially conscious.
- Is it possible for a discount store to also be ethically sourced?
The Woke Debaucle: Setting the Record Straight:
- To set the record straight, Phillip and Brian clarify that they indeed know what "woke" means (do they though?) despite coming off as a Baby Boomer and Gen Xer, respectively.
- Just a short while after the episode on woke commerce dropped, there was an article posted on woke-washing.
- Phillip thinks that there is something about this particular time of year that leads to brands using patriotism and socially conscious messaging as part of their marketing.
- There was another article recently that said that woke-washing is beginning to infect the advertising industry due to brands running purpose-driven campaigns, but failing to take real action.
Real-World Examples: How Do You Do "Woke" Right?
- "If you are highlighting something that you do to your customers for a specific cause or issue and highlight that yourself as part of your marketing, that is not very woke."
- Brian and Phillip refer back to Patagonia, whose customers and typical customer persona does not always match up to Patagonia's political views.
- Patagonia is an excellent example of a company that would rather lose some business in pursuing something right and just as opposed to just focusing on financial gain.
- Phillip bets that there are very few businesses that can claim that they genuinely favor social or environmental benefits as opposed to money.
Levels of Wokeness: Is It All or Nothing?:
- Brian questions if a brand needs to be dedicated entirely to a social cause to be authentic.
- Phillip refers to the opening line of the woke-washing article that brings up "razor company talking about #MeToo and a burger chain tackling depression".
- Do you think Burger King was commenting on mental health with their Real Meal Campaign and did this make them woke?
- Brian proposes changing the terminology to "social awareness commerce." (And there were cringes to be had by all from this statement.)
- Phillip brings up Emily Singer's newsletter called Chips + Dips that talks about really cool things in the direct-to-consumer world, but more specifically DIP:011 that talks about Everlane being a great example of a socially conscious brand.
- Brian brings up Krochet Kids as an example of a great, ethically sourced brand.
Combatting the Critiques: How To Deal With Woke Gatekeepers:
- It needs to be clear that you care about the communities that you are involved in.
- Phillip asks the listeners: "If you set out to be socially conscious as a strategy, is that inherently undoing the good you are trying to accomplish?" (That's a great question.)
- Phillip brings up a recent article in the New York Times by Allbirds that is content that is truly about birds in partnership with the National Audobon Society.
- Brian uncomfortably combines Gary Vaynerchuk and woke in the same sentence and cements his place as a Gen Xer (which wasn't a secret).
The Halo Effect: Discount Stores in a Strong Economy:
- Brian questions what a "woke dollar store" would look like. (Oh boy. There will be a link included at the end so you can send in your hate mail.)
- Is there a way for a discount store that sources its goods from areas of the world that have unfair labor practices to also be sustainable created and produced?
- While they may not sell fresh fruit at dollar stores, the next best thing would probably be Aldi.
- Phillip brings up Dress Barn as an example of a discount store that is struggling in an economy in which people can afford better goods.
- Brian mentions Brandless as a brand that fulfills both the discount requirements as well as being ethically sourced.
- Phillip also finds and briefly goes over the Dollar Tree Sustainability Report.
Brands Mentioned in this Episode:
As always: We want to hear what our listeners think! Can a brand make small contributions to social change, or do they have to be fully invested in a cause to be authentic?
Have any questions or comments about the show? You can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or any of our social channels; we love hearing from our listeners!
Retail Tech is moving fast, but Future Commerce is moving faster.
Brian: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge next generation commerce. I'm Brian.
Phillip: [00:00:04] And I'm Phillip. And we are actually together for once.
Brian: [00:00:07] Live.
Phillip: [00:00:09] Sort of Live. Live-ish.
Brian: [00:00:10] Live with each other.
Phillip: [00:00:12] Yeah, I'm actually looking at you, which is... Right.
Brian: [00:00:15] It's kind of fun.
Phillip: [00:00:16] I'd like to do a Live Live show. We should do that. We have some interesting news to cover. But I'd like to bring something to the light. So we had a lot of feedback about our Woke Commerce episode...a couple weeks back.
Brian: [00:00:35] That was a fun of one.
Phillip: [00:00:37] Somebody said, and I won't name names, although we appreciate their listenership. They said that we sounded like the two oldest people ever to talk about the word "Woke."
Brian: [00:00:50] Well...
Phillip: [00:00:51] And that we don't understand what "Woke" means.
Brian: [00:00:53] Well...
Phillip: [00:00:53] I want to set the record straight.
Brian: [00:00:56] Well...
Phillip: [00:00:58] Why what do you think, Brian?
Brian: [00:00:59] Oh, no, I just got referred to as coming across as a Gen Xer. You came across as a Baby Boomer.
Phillip: [00:01:04] Yeah, apparently. Supposedly. Which, you know, if that means I get a pension then yeah, I'll be a Baby Boomer all day long. Give me that, please.
Brian: [00:01:12] Oh they don't get pensions.
Phillip: [00:01:14] No. There are plenty of Baby Boomers who had pensions. So let's...
Brian: [00:01:18] Oh, I should be a Baby Boomer.
Phillip: [00:01:20] Let's get the record straight. We know what "Woke" means. All right. We're Woke to the word "Woke.".
Brian: [00:01:26] Are we?
Phillip: [00:01:29] I don't feel like I need to explain myself.
Brian: [00:01:32] This is why I looked up the definition in Urban Dictionary before the episode started.
Phillip: [00:01:37] Yeah, fine. OK. But yeah. You're not helping your case here.
Brian: [00:01:41] No, that was a joke.
Phillip: [00:01:41] So the point is, is that not a week after we published that episode is an article on Retail Dives specifically about the concept of Woke washing.
Brian: [00:01:54] I mean, this wasn't just Retail Dive. It was like a big trend on even like Linkedin.
Phillip: [00:01:58] Yeah, a lot of people were talking about it. And I think what I wanted to talk about, you know, without going back to the whole Woke Commerce discussion. But to comment on this phenomenon is I think there is something about this particular time of year. So we have Pride in the month of June, right? We have 4th of July in the United States here, which is a very patriotic, our Independence Day celebration. And I think this particular time of year, you see a lot of brands who, you know, are positioning a lot of social...
Brian: [00:02:37] Posturing.
Phillip: [00:02:39] Okay, fine. Yeah. Maybe.
Brian: [00:02:40] That's where you're headed, right?
Phillip: [00:02:41] That's where I'm heading is that there's a lot of marketing hype that's built around things like patriotism and socially conscious messages like, you know, like a celebration of Pride. So I think what's interesting is that it's not just Woke washing that we're talking about. I think it's any sort of advertising that is pandering to the...to a message to a particular people group. And that... If you want to call that Woke washing, maybe... There was an interesting article that was also featured, I think, in Marketing Dive not too long ago. It wasn't just called Woke Washing, it was called Trust Washing, and effectively... So in 2019 at Cannes Lions, the Unilever CEO Alan Jope, I believe, basically said that, you know, running purpose driven campaigns, but failing to take real actions is beginning to infect the advertising industry.
Phillip: [00:03:43] And it's interesting because in this Marketing Dive article, they had referenced an Edelman 2019 Trust Barometer survey that said 81% of customers said they consider brand trust in purchasing decisions, but only 34% of them actually trust the brands that they buy from. And further, just a little more than half.
Brian: [00:04:03] That sounds high to me.
Phillip: [00:04:05] 53% of consumers think that brands Trust Wash or that they aren't as committed to society as they claim to be. So with that as sort of the topic, I thought we could take, you know, both a positive and negative spin on who's doing it well, right?
Brian: [00:04:24] Well, I think that the brand that we brought up on the Woke Commerce episode, Patagonia is doing it really well.
Phillip: [00:04:31] Right.
Brian: [00:04:31] And because... I think that this was actually a topic of discussion recently, but people are getting much better at seeing through B.S. If you're not being authentic, it's going to eventually... it's gonna get lost. We were talking with a friend of ours who felt like the whole Colin Kaepernick thing with Nike was "posturing." And, you know, whether or not it was or wasn't, it felt like it to him. And he's like, you know, he's a very, like, aware customer who cares about these things and also cares about sports. And so, you know, it's just interesting what can come across as authentic and what doesn't. And in what's truly authentic, I think most of the truly authentic things that happen in business. A lot of them aren't even highlighted. And so I think it's important... If you're highlighting something that you do to your customers, that's for a specific cause or issue, and you're highlighting it yourself for marketing purposes...that's not very Woke. And so I think that effectively, like if you do something for selfish reasons, that's not necessarily very Woke.
Phillip: [00:06:14] When you... I'm going to try not to say the word "Woke" after this moment.
Brian: [00:06:19] Yeah right. Good luck.
Phillip: [00:06:21] What I would like...
Brian: [00:06:22] We're talking about that right now.
Phillip: [00:06:23] I know, this is specifically what the whole focus is of this episode. I think that it doesn't just stop at, you know, Woke commerce, like Woke washing. I think that patriot washing... The display of patriotism is absolutely a thing.
Brian: [00:06:39] So you can put it on any category. Yeah. Oh I see what you're saying. Like Woke is just a broad term.
Phillip: [00:06:44] Right.
Brian: [00:06:45] We call it...
Phillip: [00:06:46] Woke washing...
Brian: [00:06:47] Patriot washing...
Phillip: [00:06:47] Pride washing... I mean there's all kinds of things that you could... Unless they actually are doing something that publicly backs up their commitment to a cause, then it's basically lip service.
Brian: [00:06:59] But what would if they even are? Even the people that are...
Phillip: [00:07:03] Let's use the example that you used, which was Patagonia.
Brian: [00:07:06] Yeah, they're very public about what they do.
Phillip: [00:07:08] Very. It's kind of incredible. So, you know, Patagonia, sort of famously very recently, we didn't talk about this on the show, that they have a corporate sales program where they sell to other companies, including non-profits and other organizations. And they've basically put out the... They basically said they're going to shift the focus of that program to increase investment to certify B corporations. And the idea here is... Patagonia is very much the brand of the VC Sand Hill Road, you know, leather sneaker wearing Patagonia vest, you know, khaki... There's an aesthetic that goes along with a certain type of person and...
Brian: [00:08:15] Bay Area
Phillip: [00:08:15] Yeah, exactly. That does work in a certain type of job...does not align with the companies with Patagonia's, you know, political leanings. You know, they very publicly back in March came out in support of the Green New Deal, which most people you know, most of the I don't know, most of the banker, especially Wall Street types that probably, you know, buy and are fans of the Patagonia brand, are probably not fans of the Green New Deal...
Brian: [00:08:45] Well probably not Wall Street types, but like...
Phillip: [00:08:47] Sure.
Brian: [00:08:48] These fees, and...
Phillip: [00:08:50] I mean, there's like a VC on both coasts.
Brian: [00:08:55] Sure. Sure.
Phillip: [00:08:56] The point that I'm making...
Brian: [00:08:57] Yes, I see the point you're making.
Phillip: [00:08:58] You see the point that I'm making is that Patagonia is putting their money where their mouth is. And they're saying, we don't need your business. Right? We'll do business with other people. The thing that we're doubling down on is that we believe that our commitment to the environment, our commitment to companies that have sustainable business models is what matters. And we would rather lose some business in pursuit of something that's right and just, that aligns with our values, than go in search of the almighty dollar. Can everybody say that? Nobody, or very few other businesses, can go to that extent? Right?
Brian: [00:09:37] Right. Yeah. And I think you're right. I think you're... I think you're dead on here...
Phillip: [00:09:42] So I do believe Woke washing is the thing.
Brian: [00:09:45] Oh, absolutely.
Phillip: [00:09:45] Right. And it's not just... It's one thing to know it instinctively, to feel it. Right? And when you see it you notice it.
Brian: [00:09:54] But I think there's also... And this is not a devil's advocate point here. This is a... I think that there's some truth to what I'm about to say, which is there's levels of this. Right? A brand might be very clearly for profit. And, you know, get out there and make some money.
Phillip: [00:10:17] I would hope so.
Brian: [00:10:18] Right. And they might contribute to something that is important in some small way. And that might be a real legitimate position of their company and something that they actually care about. And they've done it in a small way. I guess what I'm getting at is... Do you have to be all in to be completely authentic? Do you see what I'm getting at here? Like, effectively...
Phillip: [00:10:51] Fine, fine, fine. But again...
Brian: [00:10:54] You can do things in an authentic way in small steps.
Phillip: [00:10:58] What if we... If we go back to the opening phrase of the article that we've referenced, which we'll link up in the show notes, you know, if you just take two examples of ads that have been run by... Basically the opening line is phenomenal, by the way... And this is Peter Adams at Retail Dive. So credit where credit's due. But a razor company talking about "Me, too," and a burger chain talking about depression... That is what we are talking about. That is like.
Brian: [00:11:29] Right.
Phillip: [00:11:30] Those are social discussions and social issues that I don't believe Burger King and Gillette have larger corporate commitments to support. They just want to be part of the Zeit Geist or the...
Brian: [00:11:41] Sure. Yes. Yes.
Phillip: [00:11:43] They want to be part of a social conversation...
Brian: [00:11:45] That's relevant. Popular.
Phillip: [00:11:46] Well, I think people might argue it makes them irrelevant.
Brian: [00:11:51] Right.
Phillip: [00:11:52] Right? So the right... That is absolutely Woke washing. That is a great...
Brian: [00:11:58] To be fair. I don't think Burger King's was actually about depression. I think it was actually kind of a... It was a... To me, it was a little bit more.
Phillip: [00:12:07] You think it was? I believe that it was though...
Brian: [00:12:09] It was a little snarky.
Phillip: [00:12:10] "No one is happy all the time, so we have a sad meal."
Brian: [00:12:13] Yeah, I think it was a little snarky.
Phillip: [00:12:15] Angry meal? You want an angry meal?
Brian: [00:12:17] Yeah.
Phillip: [00:12:17] You don't think they were commenting on mental health?
Brian: [00:12:21] I don't.
Phillip: [00:12:22] So they weren't commenting on mental health and Nike wasn't commenting on Betsy Ross?
Brian: [00:12:26] I was not saying anything about Nike. But I do think that Burger King was making a... They were doing a little play off of the Happy Meal. It was a bit of a joke. We don't have to take everything so seriously. That's another thing. Yeah. Now, the criticism that we got also was like, effectively, "if anyone is a corporation, then they're not Woke." And I get that, I get that. But also, let's maybe put a different word on it. Maybe we've taken the wrong word here.
Phillip: [00:12:58] Ok fine. Whatever the word is... I guess what I would like to say is even... There are brands that are doing...
Brian: [00:13:09] Social awareness commerce. That's a mouthful.
Phillip: [00:13:16] We'll use "Woke." Or Trust Washing. I like Trust Washing. There are people that are doing it well. There are other brands that are doing it well, that are committed to doing it well. In fact, Emily Singer, who we met recently on an article, she has this really great newsletter called Chips and Dip.
Brian: [00:13:41] I love chipos and dip, the food. But I also love this newsletter.
Phillip: [00:13:48] For people who haven't heard of Chips and Dip, could you just set it up while I look for it?
Brian: [00:13:52] Yeah, so, effectively, this is a newsletter about really, the cool stuff that's happening in direct to consumer.
Phillip: [00:13:58] Right.
Brian: [00:13:59] And what I love about it is at the end, there's actually a dip recipe, as well.
Phillip: [00:14:04] Yeah. Like so the chips is like, a bulleted list of all of these things that are cool news, and like the DTC world. And then there's, you know, her take on a particular story. And anyway, she's a brilliant writer. Please go check her out. She's great. Everlane always comes to mind. And recently, her dip #11, the Chips and Dip #11, is really, really good because what really it's talking about operational transparency, brands, market sustainability initiatives. Everlane always comes to mind. That's the one that... Everlane... If you go and shop on everlane.com, you'll find that there is a carbon calculation for every garment. So they've gone to the point of every single part of the making of every garment is ethically sourced. And it shows you where it's sourced from and the percentages of where they come from and who works on the creation of the clothing. It's an interesting...
Brian: [00:15:22] Which, by the way, if you want to check out a really cool brand that does ethical sourcing better than anyone and is an early adopter here, Crochet Kids.
Phillip: [00:15:36] Crochet kids? That's a new one for me.
Brian: [00:15:38] Yeah. The founder, Cold Crisilias, I knew him in college. Unbelievable brand. They're in Nordstrom, or they were in Nordstrom. And they're really interesting. Really interesting. Every single article of clothing has the maker's name on it.
Phillip: [00:15:56] Oh, OK. Yeah, OK. That's that's really cool. I didn't know about that. We'll have to link that one up, as well. Emily Singer, the point that she was making is that, slow fashion presents an antidote to many of the pain points around large scale production and she's talking about brands like Older Brother, First Right, and Fight. Which Fight, by the way I would love to own a pair of Fight shoes one day. I'll have to take out a second mortgage to do it.
Brian: [00:16:25] I feel like you've already taken a second mortgage out for shoes.
Phillip: [00:16:28] I've probably... I have shoes that are more expensive than that. That's true. But they're sneakers. What's really interesting is that she teases out a story from a brand called Elizabeth Suzanne, which is a Nashville based line that's producing tailored and handsewn, made to order clothing. And...
Brian: [00:16:49] That's my jam right there.
Phillip: [00:16:51] And they were recently criticized for posting a job for $14 an hour starting salary. And the argument basically says that a brand that calls itself sustainable without providing its employees a sustainable wage, isn't truly a sustainable brand.
Brian: [00:17:06] Oooh, oooh. That's not my jam.
Phillip: [00:17:08] It's super, super interesting. But the company's founder responds to the criticism... I'm reading from the newsletter here via Instagram story, saying that the $14 hour wage is nearly double the federal minimum wage. And it's one of the many ways that the brand invests in its employees, as well as that company's financial model, which they're very transparent about. And basically it's like they source and dye their textiles locally. They sew their products by hands.
Brian: [00:17:35] Impressive.
Phillip: [00:17:35] You know, they they don't package in plastic. They do everything thoughtfully and with intention and still can't win. So even a brand who has thought from end to end how to do things the right wa, who is objectively probably Woke, will still struggle with naysayers who tell them how not Woke they are, right?
Brian: [00:17:58] Yeah.
Phillip: [00:17:58] So I guess the...
Brian: [00:18:00] How far is too far?
Phillip: [00:18:02] That's not really what you're saying? I think what you're saying is... At what point is it just unfair criticism? Nobody can actually do it perfectly.
Brian: [00:18:11] Right. Let's see authentic steps. I think that's what we're looking for. And ultimately this gets back to just our most recent episode. But it needs to be clear that you care about the communities that you're involved in, whether it be the community of people that you're selling to or the community of people that you're sourcing from. If you use that, I think that's the key here, is you need to actually care about the people that you're engaged with. Then you effect.
Phillip: [00:18:46] And I would actually ask our audience, because I want your input. This is snackable content. Maybe this is where we end it. I'm not sure. But I'd love our audience to weigh in, because I'm curious. If you set out to be socially conscious as a strategy, is that inherently undoing the good that you're trying to accomplish? Like is that itself, by making that a strategy, does that itself basically corrupt the values that you supposedly possess?
Brian: [00:19:25] Yeah. You're putting a financial engine behind something, behind the social cause effectively.
Phillip: [00:19:33] Right. Yeah, right. I guess it makes me question my dedication to certain brands, like Allbirds, who have that element to the story. And they say it's sort of foundational to the story. In fact they had a great article. It was paid content recently about their commitment to the Audubon Society, which I thought was really interesting. It was New York Times. The New York Times. And it was it was called "The View from Above." Really beautiful article about why our future may depend on the fate of birds. You know, the fact that they don't spend the entire article talking about how, you know, how their shoes do some good in the world, how they're creating ethically sourced bamboo and sugar cane foam and wool that's a renewable resource... They don't even talk about themselves hardly at all.
Phillip: [00:20:26] They're actually creating content that is truth truthfully about birds, like it's truly about birds, in partnership with the Audubon Society. And I think that is a really interesting content marketing approach to having a sustainable message without beating people over the head.
Brian: [00:20:43] Say what you will about Gary V. but this is exactly what he's talking about when he talks about unselfish content.
Phillip: [00:20:48] Right. Oh, I see. I see what you're saying.
Brian: [00:20:51] Putting stuff out into the world that there's zero tie back to ROI. Zero.
Phillip: [00:20:56] Has nothing to do with that. Right. Right. It's that you are sharing something that will enrich the lives of other people. And you're doing that unselfishly.
Brian: [00:21:04] And you're investing in it.
Phillip: [00:21:05] Right.
Brian: [00:21:06] Yeah.
Phillip: [00:21:06] OK. Well, our love for Allbirds continues.
Brian: [00:21:11] I can't believe I just brought up Gary V. plus Woke. I am a Gen-Xer.
Phillip: [00:21:19] No. We're gonna get some comments about that one. I will say, at least for posterity sake, at the end of this paid content from the Audubon Society and Allbirds, there is a link that says "Learn more about how Allbirds approaches conscious commerce to make shoes in a better way." So they do, of course, they're going to, like they have to, at the end of something like this, which is, by the way, it's like a 2500 word article. It's not small. They do turn it back to a link to their Web site.
Brian: [00:21:47] And of course, you should always check out our sponsors.
Phillip: [00:21:50] You should. We'd like you to, and thank you to Vertex for continuing to support Future Commerce. And you know, we want to hear from you. Go over to FutureCommerce.fm... Leave your voice and add your voice to the conversation on the show.
Brian: [00:22:06] Wait before we end...
Phillip: [00:22:07] Okay. Oh, no.
Brian: [00:22:09] Yeah, there's one of those.
Phillip: [00:22:10] Oh, there's one more thing. You Steve Jobs-ed me.
Brian: [00:22:13] I do that all the time. Well, occasionally I Steve Jobs you.
Phillip: [00:22:17] Let's see if we have to cut this one out because this wasn't as good. What is it?
Brian: [00:22:20] Well. No, it's just a little small follow up to our Woke commerce episode. And I figured to be a good time to bring it up. Something just has been like flooding my mind. I want to like get a picture of what this would actually look like because it's so interesting to me. But you have this whole thing about how there are brands that are going under and leaving some markets underserved.
Phillip: [00:22:48] Yeah. Yeah. The digital divide, store closings and the digital divide. Right. Right.
Brian: [00:22:54] But there is a there's a great brand out there that's serving the lower classes, you know, whatever it is.
Phillip: [00:23:06] We need to find it better... I need to help you. I need to help you with that. Because every time we say lower class, somebody cringes and it's Tony Chiarelli.
Brian: [00:23:13] Yeah. I know. No, it's not Tony.
Phillip: [00:23:16] Who was it?
Brian: [00:23:16] Lianne.
Phillip: [00:23:16] Oh was it Lianne? Thank you. We love you, Lianne. Lianne, who's our director of content at Future Commerce, I should say. Lianne Hikind.
Brian: [00:23:23] Dollar stores... I would love to see what a woke dollar store would look like.
Phillip: [00:23:31] You know, you didn't need any of this preamble. You could have just said that.
Brian: [00:23:34] I know.
Phillip: [00:23:35] You should have just said that because it would've been better. What does a woke dollar store look like?
Brian: [00:23:39] No, it's an interesting question.
Phillip: [00:23:40] Now you're shouting into the microphone.
Brian: [00:23:40] I'm shouting into the microphone. This is not our normal microphone, so hopefully...
Phillip: [00:23:45] You're excited. But...
Brian: [00:23:47] It is exciting...
Phillip: [00:23:47] I don't know what a... Have you thought about this? What does it look like?
Brian: [00:23:52] First of all, should it even be a dollar store? Should it be...
Phillip: [00:23:56] It couldn't possibly be a dollar store.
Brian: [00:23:57] Could it be a dollar store?
Phillip: [00:23:57] It couldn't.
Brian: [00:23:59] Well, no. I mean, there's certain things that could be responsibly sourced that could get into a dollar store.
Phillip: [00:24:03] I doubt it highly.
Brian: [00:24:04] Like a pack of gum.
Phillip: [00:24:07] I don't know. Go to Whole Foods. What is a pack of honey gum at Whole Foods cost, like two and a half bucks?
Brian: [00:24:12] No, but but, but, but, but you could buy a piece of fruit for under a dollar.
Phillip: [00:24:16] Yeah. Well if you would find... OK. Yes... And most dollar stores don't have fresh fruit already. Right? They already don't, so why would...
Brian: [00:24:31] No, but that would be very Woke to have a fresh fruit dollar store.
Phillip: [00:24:35] I would love... Okay. What else?
Brian: [00:24:36] But here's another thing I was thinking about...
Phillip: [00:24:37] I think the biggest problem with your dollar store analogy is that a discount store by virtue sources it's goods that are cheaply made in areas of the world that have unfair labor practices because that is what makes it a product that is can be sold for a dollar.
Brian: [00:24:57] So... Can we not have a store that serves the lower class that...
Phillip: [00:25:01] I'm totally cutting all of this out of the show.
Brian: [00:25:07] Oh, excellent. No, that is more affordable, that actually is sustainably created and produced?
Phillip: [00:25:17] I mean, I don't know anything about the business model at all, but it's something that just comes to mind that I saw. This is a terrible way because it's completely on researched. But I don't consider, you know, Dress Barn might be more in the category of what you're talking about, which is... What? You're shaking your head. What I'm saying... I'm trying to find an example of a store that's gone under that has you know, that has very affordable and accessible clothing. You don't have to look far to find that even discounters are having trouble in an economy where people can afford better goods, and they still depend on areas of the country to purchase from them that aren't necessarily the ones that they serve the most, right? There's this weird halo effect of...
Brian: [00:26:13] Right.
Phillip: [00:26:14] This has nothing to do with anything but something to get your brain turning. I was just speaking with a guy who will have on the show pretty soon, the CEO of Observa, which is a retail compliance agency. And that firm, they do some really, really cool stuff. So we'll be talking with them pretty soon. Ceo Hugh Hallman. And he was telling me that one of the interesting halo effects of digitally native brands opening brick and mortar stores is that they actually heighten awareness of activation to e-commerce. So everywhere that Warby Parker drops a physical brick and mortar location, it activates more engagement on e-commerce in that market. The same with Casper and the same with pretty much everybody else. Even Marine Layer. Marine Layer is like a digitally native, you know, casual brand. And they themselves in going clicks to bricks, see activation. And they're not as much of a household name as, you know, as Casper.
Phillip: [00:27:19] So this is a phenomenon that exists. And I believe that just by the virtue of a Dress Barn existing in major metros helps support the business as a whole that will serve their target customer, which is the person who doesn't necessarily live in, you know, in the city and make a six figure income. They're not the coastal elites. It's the middle America that needs the Dress Barn the most. All that to say, I don't think you can do a dollar store. I don't think you can be a discounter and be woke.
Brian: [00:27:55] You just think it's possible?
Phillip: [00:27:57] I don't think it's even possible. I think by virtue of the things that the way that that business model has to work, somebody loses out in the end. Right. Somebody has to get the short end of the stick. From fair labor practices to like, think about the brands that put those values at the forefront and they are premium brands.
Brian: [00:28:20] Yeah, I think I think you're onto something here. I think this is this is kind of what I was driving at, like a woke dollar store to be pretty empty. However...
Phillip: [00:28:32] Oooh, I see what you're saying.
Brian: [00:28:33] Yes, that's kind of what I was driving at. However, that's why I asked. Should it even be a dollar store? Right. Because I actually think that even those with, you know, maybe have a little bit less disposable income are willing to buy up for certain things and find that they can buy up for certain things. There's not even really a dollar menu in McDonald's anymore. There really isn't. The only thing they have on there is like coffee. It's not food. So my view is, I think we could have a $2 or $3 dollar store, and it could be sustainably created. So that was my ultimate conclusion. I know very little about this.
Brian: [00:29:23] I think that we could see something like that succeed. And the closest thing that I could think of to that was Brandless, which is pretty interesting. But I would love to hear from our audience, their thoughts on this and how they see a store that could serve a broader set of, you know, and we are basically speaking about Americans here, but a broader set of consumers that is still sustainably created.
Phillip: [00:29:57] Yeah. Well, you mentioned Brandless, and I also know nothing about this. I think that's what's really interesting about us and more authentic than most, which is there's no pretense and that we're not just we're not gonna pretend like we're experts on everything.
Brian: [00:30:11] Did you say we were more authentic than most?
Phillip: [00:30:13] Yeah. That, I think is more authentic than most, is that we are not pretending like we know things. We are actively broadcasting that. We're figuring it out. Yeah, that is... I think that that's you know, we're trying not to keep up a facade. And I think that's really important in knowing nothing about Brandless... You know, one way to promote sustainability in an organization isn't necessarily just like we ethically source goods. It's that we give back. And, you know, Brandless has on its About Page that they've donated over three million meals with Pay It Forward and Feeding America. And so I find that. Yeah, like they really... there should be some message of this kind somewhere in in the ethos of an organization. You're going to be hard pressed to find... Let's go look at Dollar Tree since we're already here. We've gone down this path. Let's go and find out what what Dollar Tree says on its About Page.
Phillip: [00:31:20] Oh, Sustainability Report. This is interesting. They have a Sustainability Report. 2018 Sustainability Report from Dollar Tree... Every day in each of our nearly fifteen thousand stores in North America, we help customers get the most for their money. In fact, with respect to product sourcing, testing, quality assurance and internal requirements typically exceed those mandated by federal, state and local..." Well this doesn't say very much, does it? All right. Well, we'll have to look deeper. Have to look deeper into that at some point. I am interested. I really kind of I want us to shut down this idea and let our listeners speak back to us.
Phillip: [00:32:06] So please shoot us an e-mail. You can do that, Phillip, with two L's @futurecommerce.fm or Brian with an I @futurecommerce.fm, and let us know what you think. And if your brand is woke... Is your brand woke? Is it woke AF? Drop us an e-mail and let us know. And that's it.
Brian: [00:32:26] Retail tech moves fast,
Phillip: [00:32:27] But Future Commerce is moving faster.