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Photo: Airbnb

This week’s announcement is a good sign for other companies

On Monday, Airbnb — the home-sharing, hotel-destroying startup founded in 2008 — submitted paperwork to the Securities and Exchange Commission for its initial public offering. This news alone doesn’t indicate a rebound, but a profitable third quarter sends an encouraging signal to businesses who cater to globetrotters.

The sun will rise again

Despite being a brutal year for the travel and tourism industry, this week brought some good news: Airbnb is looking to go public in mid-December and turned a profit of $219 million for the three months ended September 30. …

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Photo: Target

The retailer is bringing a big-name brand into its stores

In an unexpected improvement, Target announced yesterday that it would be welcoming new Ulta Beauty installments in locations starting in 2021. This partnership furthers Target’s success both before and during the coronavirus pandemic.

Red hot

Target (TGT) is on fire. Just since the end of March its stock is up over 50 percent. And from the time Brian Cornell was named CEO in July 2014, its share price has almost tripled. It wasn’t all smooth sailing though: 2016 gave slowed foot traffic and lower sales in many stores and the company had to pay $18.5 …

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Photo: Courtney Cook / Unsplash

Etsy, Faire, and Amazon Handmade bring local crafts to the world

2020 has been a difficult year for local shops, with forced shutdowns and a drastically-declined tourism and travel industry. But the past few weeks have brought some encouraging news for the industry.

Technology and policy

A series of both technological advancements and changing foreign relations has impacted both how and from where American consumers purchase everyday goods. In the past 50 years, the phrase “made in China” has become an evidence of the shift from domestic to foreign production.

In 1979, the United States and China signed a bilateral-trade pact that allowed a rapid increase in the amount of goods transferred between the two countries. ($2 billion of total merchandise transferred in 1979 to $636 billion in 2017, per the Congressional Research Service.) And in late 2001, China became a member of the World Trade Organization, which further boosted its manufacturing base and allowed American consumers to get products from China at a much lower cost. …

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Photo: Jeenah Moon / The New York Times

Retailers direct customers to e-commerce

America’s biggest shopping day is going to look a little different this year. As many states still grapple with rising cases of COVID-19, businesses are trying to reimagine the shopping experience. The challenge of balancing reopening and safety is facing its biggest challenge yet.

Spreading out the deals

Rather than have a weekend-long event with long lines and amazing deals, stores are taking a much more methodical approach.

Best Buy

The tech retailer kicked off its holiday season this week by offering sales online and in person now through November 1. …

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Photo: Allbirds

Is there room for another apparel brand?

Allbirds, creator of the sustainable line of wool footwear, is pushing into the apparel business as it looks for continued success during a year that is hurting a lot of fashion brands and retail brands. Fresh off a large cash infusion, the company is going full steam ahead with new products aimed at its mission of cutting down on environmental waste.

Growing through a pandemic

At the end of September, Allbirds raised $100 million in series E funding led by Franklin Templeton. The round valued the business at $1.7 billion which was only a slight increase from a 2018 round at a $1.4 billion valuation. …

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Photo: Cheetos

PepsiCo and other snack manufacturers are thriving this year

Whether it’s hot yoga, meditation, or kombucha, the United States is anecdotally healthier than ever. (Although the adult obesity rate was 42.4 percent in 2017~2018, according to the CDC.) With the rise of cheaper options to eat better, food makers have introduced entire innovative lines of chips, drinks, energy bars, and everything in between catering to new customer tastes and trends. But, classic goods are bolstering sustained growth — especially this year.

Frito-Lay saves the day

PepsiCo (PEP) reported a strong quarter at the beginning of October with consumers still showing strong demand for products to make food at home. Overall, quarterly sales grew by 5.3 …

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Photo: Starbucks

Coronavirus is ushering in fourth-wave coffee — does that mean quick caffeine or $65 luxury brews?

For the past six months, people across the globe have changed every aspect of their life. Although your daily cup of coffee may seem as simple as brushing your teeth in the morning, the coffee industry affects millions around the world. A 2011 Business Insider piece says that coffee farms are the economic livelihood of over 25 million people and 90 percent of coffee product happens in developing countries. A big impact for something that’s an afterthought for most people, and those numbers have most certainly gone up in the past ten years.

Coffee in quarantine

For many professionals living in metropolitan areas, the daily stop at Starbucks or the local cafe on the way to work was a simple habit. Once offices shut down and restaurants and shops followed, employment in “food services and drinking places” dropped by 5.5 million in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. …

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Photo: The Famer’s Dog

The humanization of pet food

The past decade in consumer packaged goods has been marked by a shift from foods marketed as “healthy” to foods made with organic ingredients or better-for-you substitutes. Think Diet Coke sweetened with aspartame to seltzer waters made tasty with natural flavors; I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! to Kerrygold butter made from grass-fed cows; and skim milk to almond or oat milk.

The transition to real ingredients is real, and now it’s extending beyond the nuclear family to the pet family.

2020 food trends

White Star Capital — the venture firm behind startups such as Dollar Shave Club and Digg — recently published their report on the current state of foodtech trends and funding. …

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Photo: McDonald’s

Recent collaborations show the value of celebrity in foodservice

Restaurants chains have always been on the forefront of using culture in marketing. Whether it be placing products in movies or sponsoring sports teams, simple burgers have found a way to be associated with a lifestyle or certain individuals.

In February, I wrote about several collaborations between fast food companies and fashion brands. For instance, Allbirds and Shake Shack released a special version of the popular wool shoe. Just last month, Chipotle upped its apparel offering as well with a collection called Chipotle Goods using organic cotton and upcycled avocados.

Rapper causes national beef shortage (kind of)

Travis Scott, the 28-year-old rapper, Kylie Jenner’s ex-boyfriend, and record-setting Fortnite video game performer, just partnered with McDonald’s to introduce a new meal. Interestingly, this is the first time the iconic burger chain has launched a massive promotion with a celebrity since enlisting Michael Jordan in 1992, the same year that Scott was born. …

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Photo: Simulate

Healthier alternatives to America’s favorite foods

It’s that time of year: leaves are (almost) turning brown, the weather is cooling, and pumpkin spice lattes keep coming back earlier and earlier. Despite it being one of the most difficult years we’ve experienced, people still need to eat and business is humming along.

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Everyone loves candy. No one likes cavities. Founder Mayssa Chehata created BEHAVE to offer an alternative to classic gummies filled with sugar and marketed to kids. She told Fast Company “I kept asking myself, why isn’t there anything in that aisle that will satisfy my craving but isn’t full of sugar?”

Chehata took candy to the next level. She hired a well-known pastry chef, Elizabeth Falkner, to help create the product and Falkner is now the Head of Candy at the company. Chehata cited Magic Spoon (“the cereal for adults”) as an inspiration for the brand. More on that later. …


Joe Niehaus

Perspectives on the consumer & retail industries, and the brands trying to upend them

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