This is issue no. 153 of 180. The last issue had a 😬 46.52% open rate with 5.99% of you visiting this article on application of the scientific method to eCommerce marketing. The daily letter returns after a three day break and thank you to all of the new subscribers. The caliber of the folks that read this never ceases to amaze me.
ECOMMERCE: The Times is hardly the first publisher to go there. Publishers have for years been trying to get credit for the purchases they inspire on their pages and websites. Some experiments are now scuttled, like New York magazine’s Shop-A-Matic and ShopVogue.tv, but new ones are popping up all the time: In the past two months, Style.com relaunched as a commerce hub, and New York unveiled The Strategist, a web page offering product recommendations.
ECOMMERCE: Slower growth was bound to happen. The bigger the base, the harder it is to grow. Just look at what's happening to Apple. As Gadfly colleague Shira Ovide wrote this week, the gargantuan phone and computer maker defied gravity with sales growth of at least 7 percent per year for 13 straight years -- until, well, it didn't. Reaching peak Prime -- and, again, we're not there yet, but we will get there eventually -- isn't necessarily a bad thing for Amazon.
ECOMMERCE: The solution is interactive eCommerce. It enables the business to set the parameters, by defining what can be customized and the options that customers have. Customers can then select the options that they desire. The end result are products that truly meet customers’ needs. So, customers can pick and choose. What’s new about that? Interactive eCommerce gives brands the chance to create interactive user experiences long before a customer is ready to convert.
ECOMMERCE: Burberry and Ralph Lauren’s sales depict a dismal retail landscape across the board. Burberry reported its first half trading update on October 18, and revenue was down 4 percent over last year, to $1.4 billion. Ralph Lauren’s first quarter results of its fiscal year 2017 also showed sales slipping 4 percent, to $1.6 billion. In North America, sales were down 11 percent.
MEDIA: Yesterday Nielsen announced its subscriber numbers for November 2016 and those numbers were the worst in the history of ESPN's existence as a cable company -- the worldwide leader in sports lost 621,000 cable subscribers. That's the most subscribers ESPN has ever lost in a month according to Nielsen estimates and it represents a terrifying and troubling trend for the company, an acceleration of subscriber loss that represents a doubling of the average losses over the past couple of years.
MEDIA: The scary truth for marketers is that a video can get millions of views and shares without affecting whether consumers think of your brand, what they think of your brand, or motivating them to purchase. So it’s no wonder CMOs are losing their jobs at an unprecedented rate. But it’s not because they took a risk on Vine. It’s much more likely because brands in general are losing focus on brand-building and, consequently, are losing brand equity faster than ever.
BRAND: Under Armour isn't serious about its women's footwear business. You say you really want to grow your women's business, yet you have 6 people running it? Actions speak louder than words, and the company spends top dollar on Manhattan real estate, UCLA, athlete sponsorships, league licensing deals, but has 6 people running women's footwear behind the scenes?!
ECOMMERCE: Goldberg called Yoox Net-a-Porter the “tallest dwarf” in terms of a luxury company being adept at mobile and e-commerce, as many luxury groups continue to debate whether a digital presence makes sense for them at all. But following the merger, the company’s technology push touches a lot of luxury online experience. The group includes Yoox, Net-a-Porter, men’s retailer Mr Porter, and off-season retailer The Outnet.
BRAND: As "cool" brands grow, they can just as easily recede into insignificance as they can develop too quickly, become synthetic and lose their appeal. It all comes back to authenticity, says Distenfeld: "Besides allowing the brands staying power, it allows the brand to expand. If they go into shoes or bags or home, you're buying into the lifestyle of the brand and it's organic when they grow because people want more of that natural voice."
MEDIA: Apple would probably need to pay a 20% premium at a minimum, which means an acquisition price north of $65 billion (and I’d bet higher). And yet, the biggest reason why I’m skeptical it will happen is that I’m not sure Netflix says yes: the company has made it this far with a ladder up strategy predicated on delivering a superior customer experience, and provided the company can keep the cash flowing the leverage in video is all theirs.
PR: I just read this article about Andy Dunn and Bonobos--or was it a press release. I'm not completely sure. If you've met Andy Dunn, you'll know why that's going to be a fine line for any reporter, because it's nearly impossible to have a conversation with him without getting wrapped up in a story optimized to share. And damn, does he have his story and the ability to perform inception with it down cold. That's what should be pretty obvious about getting good press: You can't get other people to tell your story unless you know how to tell it first.
ECOMMERCE: Etsy’s stock recovery has been partly fueled by services it sells to vendors, which now account for most of its revenues and growth. Its latest offering is a subscription service, reflecting a wider trend among marketplace companies looking for steadier revenues and higher valuations. Etsy’s push into subscriptions reflects how marketplace companies, including Doz and Opendoor, are using subscriptions to attract more business as well as a higher valuation.
Graph of the week: Netflix v. Cable
With Ben Thompson's rationale (linked above) as context, here is a visual of Netflix's position in the evolving market of cable-based subscriber services versus the ramping up of the villainous, millennial "cord cutter."