Back when GT Dave, founder of GT's Living Foods, single-handedly proved that there was a market for kombucha in the U.S., probiotic was hardly a buzzword. "Fortunately today, that hurdle or barrier is no longer there," Dave said on the Modern Retail Podcast. Kombucha is now big business; sales of the beverage exceeded $480 million in 2019, according to Nielsen. GT's Living Foods, which was founded in 1995, makes for a big piece of that pie. He joined the Modern Retail podcast and talked about what's ahead for the company.
Blueland CEO Sarah Paiji Yoo wants you to know that when you pay for cleaning supplies at the grocery stores, you're mostly buying water. "Often times consumers are paying really for a new plastic bottle -- and water, which we already have at home," Paiji Yoo said on the Modern Retail Podcast.
It took a trip to London for Emily Schildt to realize that American grocery stores could do better. "I came back personally really yearning for a grocery store experience like I had there," she said on the Modern Retail Podcast. "They were just beautiful spaces in which to shop -- gorgeous products, but really thoughtful display and design." Whole Foods changed with its acquisition by Amazon in 2017, Schildt feels, and another bright spot, Dean & DeLuca, has closed doors and scrapped expansion plans. Last year Schildt founded Pop Up Grocer, a traveling showcase of a few hundred products that sets up in U.S. cities for a month at a time.
Piggy banks aren't especially in vogue, but the idea behind them sticks. By saving up a little over the long haul, you can pool quite a bit of money — enough, in Reel's experience, to pay for a luxury handbag, furniture or some electronics. The personal finance app lets customers save up for specific items. CEO and co-founder Daniela Corrente joined this week's episode of the Modern Retail Podcast.
Closed spaces, mingling strangers and loud music to shout over -- bars seem purpose-built for spreading the coronavirus. According to Bacardi CMO John Burke, that means people will be doing their drinking, and less of it, at home. "This summer there'll be a lot more drinking out of home because people feel much more comfortable social distancing at home," Burke said on the Modern Retail Podcast. "We predicted that trend back in early April, and we've switched to producing quite a lot of our brands into ready-to-drink packaging."
Cleo Capital's Sarah Kunst sees a lot of the investors' landscape focusing on the top of Maslow's hierarchy of needs -- in plainspeak, that's stuff that isn't really essential, or in Kunst's words, the kind of product that answers the question: "what will make you feel better in the moment?" On the latest episode of the Modern Retail Podcast, she spoke about how she aims to do the opposite with her investments.
Before the pandemic, the zero (or low) sugar beverage brand Sanzo had all the scrappy upstart charm and aesthetic of a DTC brand. But, it still sold mostly through wholesale -- 70 to 80%, in founder Sandro Roco's estimate. That's changed. "Since the pandemic, it's completely inverted, and even more extremely so," Roco said on the Modern Retail Podcast. "During this pandemic, if you're looking at CPG sales and specifically sparkling water, a lot more folks are willing to order sparkling water to their home than many other CPG categories." That's changed. "Since the pandemic, it's completely inverted, and even more extremely so," Roco said on the Modern Retail Podcast. "During this pandemic, if you're looking at CPG sales and specifically sparkling water, a lot more folks are willing to order sparkling water to their home than many other CPG categories."
Aishwarya Iyer started Brightland, an olive oil company, in 2018 with the idea of describing the products like wine and marketing it like a beauty brand. "Beauty leads the way in terms of talking about benefits, packaging -- the shine and glimmer that beauty's able to do, food just isn't able to do that. Maybe there are some standouts!" Iyer said on the Modern Retail Podcast. "Beauty leads the way in terms of talking about benefits, packaging -- the shine and glimmer that beauty's able to do, food just isn't able to do that. Maybe there are some standouts!" Iyer said on the Modern Retail Podcast.
Business lost to the pandemic has rebounded for StockX, an online marketplace where people selling and buying items -- sneakers, mainly -- negotiate on a price before StockX provides authentication and shipping. "We've seen an incredible return to activity in the marketplace," StockX CMO Deena Bahri said on the Modern Retail Podcast. "By mid-April we started to see an incredible return back to normal -- and even better than normal -- shopping behaviors."
The professional world may have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, but there is one constant that still powers our workday: coffee. Trade Coffee is focused on how-tos and videos about the brewers that customers support. Next, it's looking to grow on YouTube. "That's where people are consuming content and nerding out, if you will, wanting to go down that rabbit hole. That's the nature of coffee. You get into it a little bit and then you want to keep going further," said the brand's CMO on the latest Modern Retail Podcast episode.
As existing commerce companies adapt to survive a global pandemic, Jimmy Wu actually launched one. His new company Cat Person sells cat food, toys, furniture and treats in a market that Wu sees as skewed toward dog owners. On the most recent episode of the Modern Retail Podcast, Wu talked about the pet food industry, launching a company during a pandemic and the overall DTC boom.
Retail stores are slowly reopening, but The Inside founder Christiane Lemieux still thinks people will want to invest most in the place they're spending most of their time: the home. She joined the Modern Retail Podcast to discuss how she's leading her furniture brand and business lessons she's learned over the years. "What you will be doing is focusing your time and disposable spend on making your home into everything it should be," Lemieux said on the Modern Retail Podcast.
Many current retail start-up founders didn't have the chance to learn from the 2008 financial crisis because "they were potentially in high school," according to seed stage investor Hunter Walk. And even for those entrepreneurs who survived the last global downturn, the big takeaways might not apply to current circumstances. "The answers from those entrepreneurs in 2008 may or not be the right answers for companies in 2020. But the questions they asked themselves might be the things that are evergreen. And so asking some of those questions of yourself as a founder who might be going through this the first time -- I think that's where it gets valuable," Walk said on the Modern Retail Podcast.
Grove Collaborative, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, still had hand sanitizer in stock. Rather than use that as a customer acquisition tool, he prioritized existing customers for the items available. "We probably left a lot of money on the table by doing that, in the short term," CEO Stuart Landesberg said on the Modern Retail podcast. He discussed how he's approaching growth for his home supplies brand.
Coefficient Capital co-founder Franklin Isacson describes himself as a cautious investor, especially in times of uncertainty like today, or the 2008 financial crisis. He also recognizes that now is a good time to invest. "The new funds that are being deployed over the next 24, 36 months are likely to be very good vintages, much like the '09 and '10 funds were excellent vintages," Isacson said on the Modern Retail Podcast.
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