The Amazonification Of CPGs
Status Updates Are The New Status Symbol
If you manage a large brand in a low involvement category the stakes have never been higher. Many brands are still latching onto big retailers to help them hit their quarterly numbers, but to me this is no different than Blockbuster enjoying its steady DVD rental business in the early 2000s
Consumers will continue to shift their purchases of CPGs to Amazon
Once powerful CPG brands can no longer rely on their powerful big box distribution to drive volume
Private label pressure is mounting both from Amazon (through Amazon basics) and big box private label (Walmart’s Great Value brand.
Here are a few new paths I’d be looking to pursue:
Create or buy on-demand services for consumers to collect first party data and direct sales channels (Wag, Glam Squad, Handy)
Create multi-category subscription services bundled with content to differentiate
Buy or build in-home hardware (Washing Machines, Vacuum Cleaners, Dishwashers) to use as a loss leaders to drive intravenous selling through proprietary smart home integrations
Thoughts On Suzy Reaching Customer #100 :)
“Status updates are the new status symbol.” - said me
The way Millennials and Gen Z are building social currency is not through cars, houses, and watches but on the accumulation of experiences which are shared with others.
This undeniable shift is altering how the new consumer is spending their time and their money. It's clear to many that prospects for job offers, friendships, and relationships are directly impacted by one's online persona.
Gen X's BMW = Gen Y's Coachella
There are obvious downsides to this global cultural movement as there were downsides with the rampant consumerism in the 90s where kids defined themselves through the brands they adorned. People haven't changed just the world around them.
The Millennial Dichotomy: Grow Up Fast, Get Old Slow
Today we crossed the 100 customer milestone at Suzy which includes some of the most prolific brands in the world. Since officially launching in March it has been a whirlwind ride, to say the least, and it goes without saying that our incredible team is by far the sole reason we've been able to reach this meaningful accomplishment in a relatively short period of time….
What will the new model of news media look like in 2025?
When you hear about 50 to 60-year-old tech execs routinely going to Burning Man you know that the socially acceptable norms have changed for "acting young". Societal levers like Instagram, Tinder, and Urbanization has forever changed what it means to "grow up" in America. For better or worse, kids are growing up faster and adults are growing old slower and this has massive implications for any brand that is targeting their traditional notion of "mom and Dad". Restaurants nightlife, entertainment, and the broader travel sector will continue to see tremendous growth in targeting older, more affluent Americans at stages in life which would've been unthinkable just a decade ago.
Why The Uberfication Of Services Is Just Beginning...
What brand is more important at a traditional news media publication? The brand of the publication or the brand of the reporters? Look at Bill Simmons who instantly created a new media brand based on his personal brand right after he left ESPN. I question what news looks like in 10 years. Will it just be a bunch of verified reporters on Twitter crowdsourcing images and sources? In a world where "trust" seems to be a rare commodity, I believe reporters as personal brands will outweigh business brands as news media
Gigs Over Jobs In A Millennial Driven Workforce
Press a button and have the service arrive at your door. The birth of this business model is only just beginning as the millennial urbanization movement gathers steam. If I am a CPG manufacture I am either buying or building a Glam Squad, Handy, Wag, or Zeel as the first party data and intravenous sales model is just too critical to pass up when the alternative is a “race to the bottom” on Amazon or declining brick and mortar retail traffic.
#1 Advice For Consumer Marketers? Avoid THE MIDDLE
Do you have teenaged kids? How are you going about preparing them for tomorrow’s career path which will look remarkably different than the career paths of today?
Being a “jack of all skills and masters of none” or pursuing a path in “management” is a fool’s errand as we enter the 20s.
Despite the recent tariff legislation offshoring and outsourcing is here to stay and we are re-entering a world where trade and technical skills are going to be what matters in a globalized economy.
Lastly pursuing a career at a big company and working your way up the corporate ladder will be far less reliable than being the “CEO of you”.
Straight As ok your report card is nice.. but one A+ and all Cs is even better.
The millennial urbanization movement is here to stay
The top piece of advice I give to consumer marketers in this everlasting “barbell economy” is to AVOID THE MIDDLE at all costs.
Focus on the value side and focus on utility and supply chain efficiencies providing the best product at the lowest possible price. - Walmart, Vizio, Dollar Store, Southwest Airlines
Focus on the Luxury market: with storytelling, product innovation and premium time saving services . - Apple, Net a Porter, Aman Hotels, Prada, Jet Smarter
At all costs though... avoid the middle.
Moving forward our nation’s most prolific brands will have to increasingly make tough choices and “pick a side” in order to contend with the eroding middle class.
Why the TV itself is by far the most overlooked chess-piece in the battle for your living room
The urbanization movement for the new consumer is here to stay.
Millennials in developed markets around the world are getting married later, having children later, and are pushing off the desire to “grow up”.
Yesterday’s version of the American dream , a “white picket fence” lifestyle has taken a u-turn back to cities.
This trend has reverberating impact on the future of education, parenting, retail, jobs, and undeniably real estate.
I often get asked “but why about when they start a family and can no longer afford it?”.... well that’s where gentrification comes in... the livable boundaries of cities will continue to push outward for a generation that simply doesn’t want to leave.
The New Way to Work — the New Workforce Has More Options Than Ever Before, but They Come with a Cost
If Apple has proven anything with its historic success in the mobile spaceits that HARDWARE matters. Their ability to control and evolve the iPhone design in lockstep with evolutions in iOS is what has helped create the magical experience of using the iPhone.
When Microsoft created Windows Phone and largely relied on companies like HP and Dell to create the mobile hardware the results were less than ideal. In order to right the ship Microsoft purchased Nokia for $8 Billion which they would later write-off completely.
Arguably the same can be said for Google’s Android OS which only later in the development cycle after struggling with many 3rd party OEMs decided to acquire Motorola and create their own devices. only to flip Motorola a few years later at a $10 Billion loss. Samsung behind its popular Galaxy S8however has become the saving grace for Android solidifying its relevance in the mobile space.
Let’s not forget about Amazon’s epic failure in the creation of their Fire phone(yes they are mere mortals)
What Happens When Millennials Fill The C-Suite?
Every so often I get this question from a parent, “What is the best career path for my kids in this new generation?”
For Gen-X, the only way to a six-figure salary was to become a lawyer, a doctor, or work for a big brand while making your way up the corporate ladder and landing a job in the C-Suite. That WAS the only path to a stable six-figure income.
Now, the new workforce has options.
Before I jump into what options they have, I’m going to dive into what has changed from Gen-X to Gen-Y and how these new options evolved.
How I Started My First Agency
We all love to talk about digital disruption, but the reality is that we haven’t truly even experienced the effects of digital disruption yet.
The reason is that most CEOs and executives of major companies are still making decisions in a 1995 world, mainly because they never grew up with internet in their household and thus are not millennials.
Once millennials take over the C-Suite, we will start real disruption take place because their decisions will intuitively reflect today’s world.. What do you think will change the most when the C-Suite gets taken over by millennials?
Machines Don’t Get Branding
When I started my agency Mr. Youth fresh out of college I used to pick up my office phone when it rang(which was at the foot of my bed), change my voice, and act like I was the office admin.
I would tell the caller to hold on while I went to get “Matt,” and then 30 seconds later of me just staring at my phone, I would pick up the phone as myself and start the call. I grew that agency until it was acquired although at one point during the 2008 financial crisis, I was a few days from shutting down the entire company and had to put the entire payroll on my credit card.
I’m often asked, “How do you start?”… so I thought I’d share this…
My Top Piece Of Advice: For Emerging Millennial Entrepreneurs
They don’t get why people will pay to carry heavier credit cards in their wallets which make a thump when you drop after the bill arrives.
They don’t comprehend why consumers pay $18k more for a Lexus when it’s practically the same car as a Toyota, manufactured by the same company … in the same factories.
Branding is all about telling the right message to the right people at the right time. It’s not a formula or an algorithm. It requires a significant understanding of consumer behavior and the right mix of IQ and EQ for optimal impact.
AI and Machine Learning are making a lot of progress, but the human’s role in branding won’t be conquered any time soon. (The below video is from a guest lecture at Columbia Business School in March of 2018)
The #1 thing I look for when hiring
Spend time to cultivate your network, especially early in your career. Don’t just chase the people that can help you today . Take interest in as many reputable people you can, and add always add value without expectations , and the dividends will pay off throughout your journey.
Should America’s Tech Titans Step In To Solve Its Gun Problem?
The #1 trait I look for when hiring and promoting?
The reality is, if you need to wait to be told what to do when you walk into the office your job will soon be outsourced anyway.
Did this person take the initiative to propose new ideas and follow through with them?
Did they build a new side project? Do they create art of any form?
Did they ask for permission or did they do it anyway, and build something they believed in?
I believe in putting people in deep deep water and observing how they swim. Some tread water and some found a way back to the shore.
If I looked at just their experience, I don’t think I would have had built successful companies in the past.
What money will look like to the class of 2025
The market cap of Vista Outdoor, the largest U.S. gun manufacturer is only $2.9 Billion . Apple could buy them for 1% of the cash they have on hand and for a bit more in R&D use the same face or thumb recognition in iPhones to disable unauthorized shooters from pulling the trigger.
Smith & Wesson, another leader in U.S. gun manufacturing is worth $1.4 Billion… Google could take them out for .2% of their market cap and send all of their guns into space …
As for #3? Sturm, Ruger & Co. They are worth $1.2 Billion. Amazon could buy them for a week’s worth of sales and refuse to sell their products to anyone but government agencies.
I believe that this new age of tech billionaires and corporate titans whom have created untold wealth from the freedoms of this nation have a moral responsibility to turn their attention to gun control…
Our grandchildren won’t know what cash is.
They won’t know about the 99% of cryptocurrencies that existed in 2018, because there will only be a few that are going to make it.
They’ll never have to hire a wealth manager because AI will do it for them.
And they will think Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple have always been banks.
This isn’t one of those “doom and gloom” type of posts, I promise. I believe fintech is heading through a major transformation, and it will be better for consumers, and disastrous for banks.
The current administration is on path to deregulate many industries. It’s causing a big impact on many industries, but deregulation of the financial services industry will probably have the biggest impact.
Here is what I see as being impacted the most.