Behind 5 of Last Week's Consumer Headlines

Boon + Gable closes on $2.5 million for its in-home stylist and shopping service

I've been talking about the opportunity for a business like this for years. But I didn't do it and this team did. Good for them! Why I'm excited about it:

  • Stores often have too much inventory and not enough traffic -- personal shoppers going to local stores to pick up items for their clients addresses both
  • With so many related desires addressable on-demand, in-home personal styling is a ripe opportunity (and one I'm impressed Bloomingdale's has jumped on as a launch partner)
  • Paying commission to a shopper may be less expensive than covering online shipping and returns and losing selling time on that inventory
  • My question: Which retailer will be the first to develop a business like this themselves? Or will someone just buy Boon + Gable?

Bigger-than-expected baskets at first 365 by Whole Foods Market

  • It's not surprising that this store would do well, as it's a logical concept with compelling features in a hot neighborhood
  • What's surprising is that it doesn't sound like Whole Foods had a plan for avoiding cannibalization of the core brand
  • Whole Foods is said to be targeting a younger customer with 365, but this is yet another example of "what millennials want" actually being what people of all ages want
  • I see a risk that many Whole Foods customers will be perfectly happy shopping 365 and that the original stores will need to look more like the new ones

Best Buy tests in-home service to help customers figure out their tech needs

  • Plenty of retailers offer free help in stores, but sending (good) people out to homes and just hoping for conversion is an unknown 
  • It might be better to charge a nominal fee that would be credited toward a purchase, which is what The Container Store does with their consultant program
  • With so many of Best Buy's products being comparison-shoppable commodities, I hope consultants easily develop relationships with clients and tell them Best Buy won't be undersold 
  • I think this is a worthy test and admire Best Buy for doing it; if I sound less bullish on this than the at-home fashion services above, it's because of the personal nature of one's closet vs. her electrical wiring

Kellogg's is opening a restaurant that charges more than $7 for a bowl of cereal

  • Despite the understandably snarky headline, I think this Times Square cafe is a great idea
  • Part of the appeal is the high but accessible price, which elevates the humble bowl of cereal at a time when consumers are gravitating instead toward breakfast grab-and-go options 
  • Landing Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar fame was a score not just for the pastry chef's lemon-pistachio-Frosted Flake creativity, but because she has a cult consumer following and is a media darling on the press circuit talking up the project
  • Last week, I wrote about CPG shopper marketing; this is my favorite approach in recent memory

Your customers flow from online to offline, so should your marketing

  • This is one of the most best all-channel brand pieces I can remember reading; it's nearly comprehensive besides not mentioning stores
  • Engaging users via mobile when they're on mobile, but getting them to grab their phones in the rare moment they're not is more creative
  • We know we're being tracked all the time online, but simple online ad retargeting is predictable; follow-up via direct mail or experiences gets interesting
  • No, the online and offline results of a retailer's efforts don't "cannibalize" each other (though reporting and metrics should give everyone skin in the same game)

And the last "headline", Human E-commerce, is mine. I remain excited about technology that creates online shopping experiences that leverage the people working in retail stores.