Temporary Brands are Here to Stay

Two weeks ago, CircleUp hosted a lunch for CPG buyers, brokers, merchandisers, sales/marketing/finance consultants, etc. Bringing together different perspectives (including experts on Amazon, Costco Wholesale, Whole Foods Market, along with emerging ways to shop i.e. Stockwell) was eye-opening. Here are my 5 takeaways (all views are my own).

  1. We live in an age of “temporary brands”, many of which may not be around for decades to come (they aren’t designed to be). The best ones will get acquired/absorbed. The worst ones will go out of business. As it gets easier to start a brand, it gets easier for a brand to fail. Which, to me, means that “temporary brands” are here to stay. As an investor, I spend a lot of time trying to figure out which brands (and founders) are in it for the long-run.
  2. Retailers win whether a brand succeeds or fails. Slotting fees are going up, and more brands are throwing themselves at buyers. It seems like the on-shelf environment is going to get worse before it gets better. But, prioritizing slotting fees is not going to lead to success for a retailer (the retail environment is tough for more reasons beyond that as evidenced by the news on Fairway, Lucky’s and Earth Fare).
  3. Amazon strategy is a need to have for brands (not a nice to have). But, Amazon can’t be the only channel a brand uses for awareness. Amazon is great at servicing a set of customers that are interested in something about a product, brand or its attributes - it’s not as good at introducing brand new customers to a brand.
  4. If you’re an emerging brand, don’t forget about co-ops — they are great places to build a brand (turns are great but shelf-space is limited). NCG should be a part of your strategy.
  5. The industry is still early in how it uses data in decision-making.While everyone at the event was hungry for data, I got the sense that brands and retailers hadn’t quite gotten there yet. There’s a lot of room for improvement and understanding here.

Product obsessed. People focused. Easily intrigued. Rarely impressed.