Timid brands need not apply

When cosmetics brand Glossier first launched via a large subway campaign in New York City, my first thought was that this brand is going to fail.

I got it wrong. Last week, Glossier announced a Series E funding round of $80 million, pushing their total valuation $1.7 Billion.

Glossier’s 2016 subway campaign. Source: Pinterest

Why did I think that Glossier would fail?

Glossier did not fit my conception of what a beauty brand should look like. The plastic product containers, the use of emojis, the bubble wrap packaging, the non-serif and non-fussed font… None of this screamed something I want to put on my face. …

A quick and dirty valuation of the brand

A carton of Oatly oat milk on a counter next to a mug
Photo by Leon Seibert on Unsplash

Oatly debuted on the stock market last week at a $12 billion+ market cap. Much of the conversation has centered on the “frothy” (pun intended) valuation. With zero profits and a multi-billion valuation on the NASDAQ, the alternative milk manufacturer is certainly valued like a tech company.


Is Oatly Overvalued?

Oatly’s $12 billion valuations sit at 25x its revenues (Oatly’s 2020 revenues were $421 million). For comparison, typical revenue multiples are:

  • 1.71 for food processing companies (which would suggest a $720 million valuation for Oatly)
  • 3.70 for household products companies (which would suggest a $1.56 billion valuation)
  • 4.32 for soft beverages…

Photo by David Waschbüsch from Pexels

Brand Strategy

How brands will make money in the next phase of DTC

Direct to consumer (or ‘DTC’) branding sits at an inflection point. The model created a raft of household names from Allbirds to Warby Parker whose success opened the floodgates to thousands of new CPG, fashion, and home brands all vying for attention. According to Harvard Business Review, every product area with a sleepy TAM (total addressable market) has been innovated. Businessweek has called out the brand deluge, renaming DTC brands ‘blands’ due to their copycat visuals and laughably shallow mission statements.

Many of these brands are innovative — or at least they present a shift in taste to aesthetically pleasing…

Brand Strategy

How Peloton is disrupting athletic wear

Neutral colors, technical fabrics, and matching two-piece sets — the athleisure formula

Look around the athleisure industry, and you’ll notice a similar aesthetic. Stretchy. Monotone. Minimalist. Sometimes there’s a bit of flair thrown in — a pattern here, a strip of see-thru paneling there. But despite leading growth in the fashion industry, athleisure leaders like Lululemon and Gymshark evoke a similar future of matching sets and evermore technical fabrics.

Now, consider Peloton’s clothing. Peloton athleticwear stands out with bursts of neon and leopard print. Instructor Ally Love typically layers two sports bras in different colors, while head instructor Robin Arzón is known to rock army print and multi-colored ribbons through her braids…


Will Apple finally buy Peloton?

Last September, CNBC analyst Jim Cramer referred to Peloton’s upcoming IPO as, “the kind of thing that will be exciting for today, tomorrow. And then I think we’re going to look back and say, ‘What were we thinking?

Flash forward to July 2020, Peloton’s stock has more than doubled since its IPO and the company has shifted from a luxury bike producer to an exercise lifeline bought by Americans earning $75,000 or less. …

Source: Attest


Will their strategy hit the right note this time?

Brandless, the SoftBank-backed consumer goods company with a uniform $3 price point, shut down its operations in February.

Why couldn’t they make a profit? Confusion over their strategy.

Brandless attempted to create a brand of high quality, affordable products by eliminating the marketing costs of typical CPG companies. However, they failed to offer products at a consistent quality (hurting trust), while their uniform $3 price point was not cheap for many items (hurting value), and they confusingly spent heavily on marketing — which eroded their margins.

This time, Brandless appears to be ready to execute a more focused strategy. According…


The art of creating an enduring luxury brand.

In May 2020, Ferrari became more valuable than General Motors. This is despite the fact that Ferrari produces fewer than 10,000 cars per year, in contrast to the nearly 7 million produced by General Motors.

Clearly, each Ferrari is very, very profitable. But the secret to this profitability is a counter-intuitive marketing strategy: Ferrari makes it very difficult to buy its products.

In order to purchase a limited-edition Ferrari, you must undergo a rigorous character assessment and have a history of owning other less expensive Ferraris. Even to buy an entry model, would-be customers are told to first buy a…

Source: Ads of the World

After hotels and restaurants, advertisers are one of the hardest hit businesses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Closed businesses are no longer advertising, while others have severely dropped budgets. Google and Facebook are estimated to lose about ~$44 billion in ad revenue as companies pull marketing budgets, according to Cowen & Co. analyst estimates.

And yet, for brands, there may not be a better time than now to develop a new campaign. Historical data shows that those who market during a downturn emerge with stronger shares. To this I say, duh. …

Source: Brandless

An outsider’s perspective

Brandless, a DTC consumer goods company designed to provide groceries and essentials, minus the cost of marketing, ended its operations last week after failing to become profitable. The company was known for its a unique pricing model, where every item cost a uniform price of $3, as well as its clean product packaging.

Photo by Simon Ray on Unsplash

It’s a Saturday evening and my apartment is filled with bouts of laughter, shouting, and moments of concentration. Deep concentration.

It’s board game night, something that’s become a bit of a regular weekend ritual with my friends. And we’re not alone. Global market research firm Euromonitor reveals that board games are growing at their fastest rate since 2002. They’re not just for lounging around at home anymore, either. 2016 saw over 5000 board game cafes opened in in the US alone. That’s more than the total number of American Walmarts!

Looking ahead, the industry is expected to grow anywhere from…

Michelle Wiles

Marketer. Writing about startups, media, and anything related to brands. Former @McKinsey @Ogilvy @ProcterGamble. Co-founder @OceanBottle.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store