The grocery industry grew 10% in 2020, driven by increased e-commerce sales in particular. Now, faced with first quarter 2021 sales declines and the return of restaurant competitors, grocers are looking for ways to further the sales gains they saw during the pandemic.
Last year, the death of George Floyd and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests created a call for brands and retailers to do more to support Black-owned business. The answer, for many, was to create mentorship and grant programs for Black-owned businesses last year, for the first time. A year later, five Black business owners offered their reflections on these programs to Modern Retail.
Shoe brands are taking collaborations outside of the box, partnering with brands and media hubs like KFC and South Park to drive buzz. These partnerships are trying to bring in new audiences, revive struggling styles or brands and play towards nostalgia.
On Friday, Staples made a fourth attempt to acquire ODP, home to the combined Office Depot and Office Max, via a billion dollar offer for the company's consumer-facing businesses. Staples and ODP's businesses have been declining for years. They have sought to grow their businesses by investing in partnerships, experiential stores, and e-commerce. However, in Staples' eyes, the quickest -- and most surefire way -- to grow its business is to acquire assets from its biggest competitor. As such, Staples continues to be hellbent on getting a deal done, though ODP keeps rejecting its offers -- and shows no signs of changing its mind.
People are continuing to embrace the outdoors after a year of being stuck at home, and brands are responding accordingly. In June 2020, year-over-year sales of outdoor equipment like bicycles, paddle sport gear, golf equipment, camping gear and binoculars were up between 63% and 22%, according to the NPD Group. Now, as demand continues into 2021 brands and retailers across categories are entering the space in a variety of ways.
Before the pandemic, there was an explosion in new rental services as even retailers including Bloomingdale’s and Urban Outfitters, Inc. took up the trend. But when the pandemic hit, many of these companies took a hit as users paused their memberships and took up loungewear. Now, fashion rentals are focused on catering to users who have reactivated their accounts in time for summer gatherings.
This week, Etsy announced that it has acquired Depop, a clothing resale app for $1.6 billion. That announcement comes nearly two years after Etsy acquired Reverb, a marketplace for new and used music gear. In its press release, Etsy laid out its rationale for acquiring Depop: It help Etsy further its "house of brands" strategy, in which it will operate the three marketplaces separately -- Etsy, Depop and Reverb -- but share technology, marketing, product and customer services staff.
When it launched at the end of 2019, dairy alternative brand Eclipse was focused on selling wholesale ice cream to service shops. However, when the pandemic hit a few months into its launch, the company's co-founders decided to bet on retail by packaging and shipping product to grocery stores.
Gig workers have always faced issues related to pay and workload, but many of those came to a head during the pandemic. In retail, the pandemic drove demand for delivery services. Now, as the United States begins to reopen, platforms that facilitate rideshares and deliveries are offering short term incentives to workers amongst workforce shortages, but many don’t think these changes will be enough to support them financially.
Walmart continues to use celebrity influencers as anchors for its private label lines. The retailer's new collaboration, a crafting brand headed by interior designer Todd Oldham, is the latest in a series of expert influencer partnerships. In the past year, Walmart has tapped fashion designer Brandon Maxwell to oversee two fashion brands, as well as working with larger celebrities like DeGeneres, Sofia Vergara and Drew Barrymore on lifestyle lines.
In a bid to ride the post-pandemic sales boom, Bacardi North America is launching a record amount of new products this year. The privately-held parent company of brands like Bacardi Rum and Patron is set to launch over 40 new products this year, which a brand spokesperson said is the most launched in a single year in the company's 159-year history. Many of the launches have been and will be in trending subcategories like ready-to-drink (RTD) and low-alcohol-by-volume (low-ABV).
After a year of supply chain headaches, brands now have a new challenge to grapple with: the rising costs of commodities and raw materials. Many of the raw materials that startup food and beverage brands rely on have risen in price. As a result, brands that are experiencing a rise in costs of materials often have to cut costs elsewhere -- or, pass it on to customers as a last resort.
For the past year, the ongoing lockdowns had customers turning to at-home hair coloring and treatments, giving brands like Madison Reed an opportunity to grow sales. Now that salons are reopening and events are returning, the brand is looking to expand its physical footprint to continue its momentum.
With the wellness trend continuing to infiltrate more categories, big CPG companies -- including Nestle, Unilever and Mars Inc, among others -- are adding more health-focused brands to their portfolios. Some of these recent startup acquisitions include Nestle's purchase of Nuun and The Bountiful Company, along with Unilever's buyout of Liquid IV and Onnit.
Compared to most consumer-facing companies, wholesale has been slowly to adapt to many of the biggest e-commerce trends in retail. But the high-profile entrance of a major wholesale business marks the beginning of a bigger trend. What's more, it suggests that B-to-B online marketplaces are poised to become the next big shift in retail.
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