Issue no. 251. The last one had a 38.79% open rate. The most-read link was CB Insights' review of the biggest Direct-to-Consumer brands in play. It was so popular, LeanLuxe is featuring it today. Here is a key excerpt that you should read if you haven't:

“[Succeeding] earns you the right to go from product one to product two. Take as much time as you need to get product one right, and to prove it,” said co-founder Andy Dunn.

He goes on to compare this strategy to Ralph Lifshitz's early perfecting of his Ralph Lauren ties (read a history here). We were just having this same discussion during a planning round table for Cotton Bureau's Blank line of size-inclusive, American-made tees. It is important to get the very first product right before moving to the second.

"Because if you don’t [get it right], no one is going to be waiting on pins and needles for product two," added Dunn.

Web Smith, EIC

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Today's Top Intelligence (11 Reads)
Grailed: 30 Most Popular Brands in Fashion
The “K***e Effect” is still clearly real, but we might need to start discussing the “Virgil Effect” as well. While Adidas held the top spot in the realm of sneakers, and K***e West-affiliated garments rounded out our end-of-the-year “top five” in terms of popularity, it’s impossible to ignore the rise of both Off-White and Nike. With “The Ten” building hype with teases and celebrity sightings all the way up to its inevitable drop in Q4, Nike’s star continued to rise right alongside that of Abloh’s own Off-White.

Read More
DNVB: Our second look at the David's focuses on a curated selection of over 200 brands across five key categories: fashion, accessories, beauty, wellness and home. By definition, our Davids were founded, launched and nurtured online and our curation is centered on those which we believe are ones to watch. The 200+ are at varying stages of maturity and scale, but on average, through anecdotal evidence, we believe they are each generating an estimated $10 million in sales or $2 billion in total. 

Capstone: All the major digital players like Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram have developed ad offerings that start to bridge the gap between retail and media, in the form of shoppable ads or swipe-up-to-purchase type of ads, for instance. On the opposite side, the likes of Amazon and Walmart are acting like media owners. Amazon is really making inroads into advertising, renovating its search and programmatic products. So more and more, media is being wired for retail, and at the same time, more and more retail is wired for media. It’s an interesting convergence on both sides.

Retail: Make no mistake, it has been a year of transition for all retailers — from online to brick-and-mortar and everyone in between – and it hasn't been easy. But those that stood out for the better, did so by investing in themselves — in products, stores, experiences, technology and delivery. Others, however, made headlines this year for outdated business strategies that left some stagnate and others in bankruptcy court.

Digital Media: Podcasting has always been a way for people to creatively tell stories as there’s a minimal barrier to entry and it offers a good way to find niche audiences. Last year, we saw podcasts move beyond listeners’ ears and into television and books, with writers, producers and publishers using the stories from podcasts as a way of gauging the popularity of a subject, as well as providing a jump-off point for their own content.

Digital Media: Ad buyers agree that Snapchat’s best move of the year was introducing the Snapchat Ads Manager. In May, Snapchat began allowing ad buyers to run two of the platform’s ad units, Snap Ads and sponsored filters, via a self-serve auction. The platform’s third ad unit, sponsored lenses, must still be bought through the Snapchat sales team.

Content: Unmetric, a company that analyzes engagement data across social platforms, ranks posts from brands with an engagement score from zero to 1,000. Because every platform is different, and every brand has different metrics for success, Unmetric gives scores based on the idea that some metrics (like shares and retweets) have more value for brands than others such as likes or favorites.

Retail Apocalypse: Some of the most recent retail bankruptcies have been those of the traditional mall retailers, whose businesses have suffered significantly in light of fast fashion's growth. Moreover, market giants, such as Wal-Mart and Target have wiped out a number of other companies, who were unable to compete with their pricing power and general reach. And as noted by many sources, any existing retail problems only increased when Amazon arrived on the scene.

eCommerce: While ModCloth has removed the t-shirt from its site, it has not taken any further steps to rectify the situation, which very likely amounts to copyright infringement. Yes, Pardue very likely holds copyright protection in the nail polish-bearing fists design that she created, which ModCloth is thereby infringing by recreating for its own tees.

DNVB: At Away, our ultimate goal is to be known as a global travel brand—luggage is just the beginning. We know that there’s a lot that can be improved  with the current travel experience, and we want to help fix that—for Away to become synonymous with more seamless travel.  This past September over Paris Fashion Week, we created a pop-up hotel called Chez Away it was a big success and proved what our team is capable of when we think outside the box, so we are exploring similar opportunities to activate and offer an all encompassing Away travel experience for our community in 2018.

Digital Media: Along with subscriptions, commerce has emerged as a route to monetization. One of the most interesting, if unlikely cases, is with Barstool Sports, the millennial male-aimed sports comedy site.

2PM's 10 Thoughts for 2018
  1. Brand: Nike will make small gains against Adidas by copying the German brand's "creators" playbook (click above) but Adidas will remain the brand for rebels and the message will resonate better in 2018, as consumers shun the status quo.
  2. eCommerce: Podcasts will continue to mature their eCommerce operations. There will be more examples of refined stores and high quality brand plays in merchandise.
  3. Digital Media: Netflix is on to something and may scare the likes of AMC and Cinemark in 2018. Will Smith scored a big win with 11M week-one views. This is out of the 53 million Netflix subscribers. Expect the streaming service to redefine what Netflix means by building on the critical momentum of "Mudbound" and the viewership success of "Bright."
  4. eCommerce: Amazon will cut its affiliate spending by upwards of 40% in 2018. This will most likely affect independent media groups and some of BuzzFeed's most recent efforts. 
  5. Digital Media: 2018 will be the year that Youtube influencers take ownership over their eCommerce presences and flock to white glove services that are fully vertical.
  6. DNVB: Walmart will buy 1-2 more digitally vertical native brands in 2018. They will also test a smaller-box urban storefront, by a different name, for their higher end brands. 
  7. Brand: Brands with evergreen products will reduce Google SEM spend and shift to Amazon search products. Remember, Amazon is now a $1B+ advertising business.
  8. eCommerce: Spurred by GGV Capital's belief in China's commerce sector, brands will begin spending considerable time working with China's trove of mobile-first eCommerce platforms to grow through international channels. In 2008, it was SEM. In 2012, it was social. In 2016, it was the Soho pop-up. In 2018, it will be American exports in China.
  9. eCommerce: Shopify will develop a 'featured' marketplace for its top Shopify and Shopify Plus performers and it will compete against the likes of Wish and others. Expect this to be launched in the form of a mobile app with one-click purchasing. Tobi, Harley, and crew will also launch their first of many private label brands to appear on this marketplace app. 
  10. Digital Media: 🗣2PML will become a leading commerce podcast in 2018. It will become the go-to 20 minute pod for polymaths with little time for market research, continued education, and Porter's Five Forces analysis. 
Follow @2PMLinks for this thread and other updates. 
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