This is issue no. 191. The last issue had a 41.61% open rate with an additional 6.23% of you going to this article on brands who've mastered content that sells. I've included a great excerpt below.
Hypebeast gets it:
In the world of hype, in the world of cool, you need to be the coolest platform selling the coolest products," says Kevin Ma, the unflappable founder of the Hong Kong–based streetwear site Hypebeast. Championing edgy brands such as Raf Simons, Vetements, and Hood by Air, Ma’s site has grown from a simple sneakerhead review hub (created in his Vancouver bedroom) to a multifaceted arbiter of all manner of urban fashion and culture that includes Hypebeast, the year-old female-focused Hypebae, and an online marketplace called HBX that sells everything from Yeezy Boosts to Leica cameras. Proof that Ma knows how to stay on just the right side of the hype cycle: Much of Hypebeast’s 46% increase in revenue in the first six months of last year was fueled by its growing creative services division, which helps brands such as Gucci and Adidas produce advertising for both Ma’s sites and others’.
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BRAND: Winthrop knew that if he was going to make clothes in America, he would have to approach the business differently. Worker salaries would cost more, so he would have to save money by doing away with splashy marketing. "There's a really fundamental shift going on in the marketplace, driven by consumers – there's this increasing awareness among consumers, and a desire to support brands that have values that they share, that reflect their own values," he said. If you can tap into that, "you're less reliant on massive marketing budgets, huge store roll outs."
MEDIA: If you don’t already know, DistroKid is a music distributor. That means we help musicians & record labels get their music into online stores & streaming services (iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Google Play, Amazon, and more). Then we collect the royalties and pay out. Payments go either to the artist, or to any group of collaborators that the artist specifies, in any percentage. When I came up with the idea for DistroKid, the incumbents were TuneCore and CD Baby. They were big — but old. I respect those guys; they paved the way for a lot of this stuff.
BRAND: At a StrictlyVC event in San Francisco last week, Glossier’s founder, Emily Weiss, talked about focusing on ways to engage customers that more traditional brands had neglected. Weiss, a former fashion assistant who launched Glossier several years after creating Into the Gloss — a site about women’s grooming routines that now attracts 1.5 million unique visitors monthly — also talked about the role of content in growing her business.
ECOMMERCE: As part of the deal, Alibaba and Bailian will co-design bricks-and-mortar stores that merge offline and online shopping and services to improve the buying experience for consumers. They will also combine their membership bases to deliver enhanced customer service through technologies such as geo-location, facial recognition and big-data driven sales and customer management systems.
MEDIA: On a related note, the Spectacles site previously had a map showing where vending machines were located, but it now simply links you to the new shopping page. That makes me wonder whether Snapchat is phasing out its vending machines. Spectacles marked a new direction for Snap Inc – in fact, they were launched simultaneously with the company’s name change – indicating it needs to grow its portfolio to combat Facebook’s increasingly aggressive apeing.
BRAND: The goal with the Yeti store, ultimately, is as a year-round brand activation that gives people a chance to interact with Yeti whenever they're in Austin. To that end, it's built to appeal to people who live in Austin, as well as visitors—the shop is located next to two hotels—and to attract both Yeti enthusiasts who might make a special trip to see the space as well as passers-by who are intrigued by the design (and the bar, which features a giant Texas flag display made of 12,000 bottle caps).
BRAND: Canada Goose, which is currently worth around three hundred million dollars and is about to announce an I.P.O., which could raise its value to more than two billion dollars, trickled into the mainstream, like most luxury brands do, with cameo appearances. The model and actor Kate Upton wore Canada Goose (and not much else) on the cover of Sports Illustrated, in 2013. Rihanna has recently been cavorting around the world in a scarlet version that the brand made in partnership with the cheeky French label Vetements.
ECOMMERCE: Another category — sneakers — has also seen more attention. Venture capital firm Forerunner Ventures, which invested in Birchbox, Bonobos, and Dollar Shave Club, recently made an investment in sneaker consignment store Stadium Goods. It was the firm's first investment in a consignment company. Sneakers are not considered a luxury category traditionally, but they can have luxury-level prices at resale to fanatical consumers.
ECOMMERCE: The art is how Casper has prioritized this science while cultivating its playful image. If Wes Anderson made a movie about a mattress company, it would probably look a lot like Casper—and not just because they’ve conducted sleep studies with dogs. It’s also about the way the marketing is built around meme-y blue-and-white cartoons designed to get people—even if they’re years away from needing new bedding—thinking about the brand. Or the company’s tastefully cheeky nods to the way the mattress, via its springy latex layer, can enhance "indoor sports."
ECOMMERCE: One cause of the slowdown appears to have been consumer resistance to the services’ prices. Half of the people surveyed by consumer research firm NPD Group last May stopped trying them because they were too expensive, according to Darren Seifer, a food industry analyst for NPD. Meals typically cost at least $10 per person and require about 40 minutes or more of preparation. “These services have to show the consumer that they can actually save them time by taking out the guesswork of what’s for dinner,” Mr. Seifer said.
For the longterm, I'm a big believer in this notion of sort of appliances. There will be lots of little things that will be connected to the internet. Your television is one of them.
In short, publishers (all of them, not just newspapers) don’t really have an exclusive on anything anymore. They are Acer, offering the same PC as the next guy, and watching as the lion’s share of the value goes to the folks who are actually putting the content in front of readers.
I mostly agree but there is a distinction to be made. A smiling curve is an illustration of value-adding potentials of different components of the value chain in an IT-related manufacturing industry. In the above graph, the order of the most valuable components of the chain are: (1) Consumers (Google, Facebook, Twitter) (2) Journalists or niche publications (3) and then, Publishers. The value of the publisher and its components are tied to action and the value of a consumer. The more passionate the consumer, the more valuable the publisher.
How do you gauge the value? Action. Action can mean: eCommerce sales or it can be something more opaque. This is an apolitical publication but you have to admit that the New York Times and the Washington Post are generating growth via subscription sales because their product is generating more action (activist citizenship, online chatter, intellectual curiosity). This inevitably will lead to increased digital and print ad spend. Advertisers will buy into activist citenzship, online chatter, and intellectual curiosity.
There are two above articles that delve further into the science of content creation, content delivery, and content discovery: (1) "On the Lore of Destrokid" and (2) the intro text on Hypebeast's ability to master sellable content. It is right there that media groups can be lost in all of this. Hypebeast's most valuable asset is not its journalists or even its publication, it's the consumers. They prime their consumers by generating online chatter and in many cases - direct commerce sales through HBX. The more successfully their journalism leads to eCommerce outcomes, the more reliable their native advertising sales funnel. It's no mistake that their creative services division has helped generate 46% growth YoY.
“The future of Snap isn’t Spectacles,” she says. “The future is advertising.”
Snap’s advertising revenue to date is minimal—it generated $404.5 million in ad revenue last year. However, that’s a sharp increase from $58.7 million in 2015. It’s also a far cry from the $2.248 billion in ad revenue Twitter Inc. generated last year and a modicum of the $26.885 billion in ad revenue Facebook Inc. generated. But Snap is a different platform and the ads that retailers use to drive sales on it will likely be distinct from those on other social networks, Lieb says
The most successful marketing campaign that Snapchat has led in the last two years wasn't through traditional advertising, it was through traditional retail and eCommerce. And they weren't building and selling a product for the sake of becoming an eCommerce brand. Two of their advertising selling points are a) the passion of their millennial consumers and b) their ability to generate action. In this case, millennial-driven online chatter and the sale of an elusive hardware piece that serves as a billboard of its own.
There is a virtuous cycle in modern digital media and eCommerce that shouldn't be ignored. Consumers want to go where they are influenced to act and advertisers to create content in those same spaces.