Reading time: 5 minutes

May 6, 2019

This month’s featured book is an exciting one! Kantar’s own Emmanuel Probst has just published Brand Hacks features myriad interesting, practical and sharp insights on why we buy to help companies escape the $560b ad waste cycle and instead employ simple brand hacks to create and grow brands that deliver meaning.

From Deepak’s neuroscience desk, new research from Duke tells us that variety is better at certain times of day – which can have real implications for willpower. Similarly, new research from IAB reveals that consumers’ mindsets and motivations for watching the digital video varies throughout the day – and has significant impact on advertising perceptions.



  • P&G is making efforts to grow its DTC portfolio through both acquisitions and its in-house innovation incubator – but will ensure these brands feel decidedly not big brand. Unilever, meanwhile, also aware of this “existential crisis for big brands”, is focusing on addressing the complexity of its business model to expedite innovation.
    • Consulting POV – You’ll hear a lot from us on #MultipleModels (one of the 7 pillars of IRG success is “Multiple Commercial Models”) in the back half of the year. It’s entirely possible that the future divide in retail isn’t “brick and mortar” vs. “eCommerce” for a supplier, but “scaled” vs “fragmented” routes to market (D2C falls into the fragmented bucket with small retail and 3P marketplaces).
  • Bed Bath & Beyond is losing “two of the most brilliant, innovative and successful retailers in the history of the industry” – its co-founders – though perhaps a signal of a critical new era for the struggling chain.
    • Consulting POV – Category specialist retailers ALWAYS have to go through a reinvention post-founder of their concept; mainstream retail ALWAYS catches up to and replicates winning attributes of the original model. Successful specialists like Home Depot get through this and thrive; unsuccessful ones don’t. If you think about Whole Foods as a category specialist in food, this is exactly the transition Amazon needs to take Whole Foods through. This business model had run its course – particularly in an eCom world, the economics of a BB&B store no longer make sense (too much ineffectively curated stuff per store).
  • Nordstrom is opening two of its Nordstrom Local stores, which have no on-hand inventory but offer services such as order pick-up, alterations, and tailoring, in NYC later this year.
    • Consulting POV – Great idea. This is why “brick and mortar” vs. “eCommerce” will increasingly become a useless distinction – if you’re picking up a Nordstrom order you made online in one of these stores and are prompted to buy something else while in the store using your phone, is that an in-store or an online sale? You can make an argument for either, but the real point is: who cares?  A quick overview of one of America’s smartest retailers can be found in Nordstrom: The 5 Slides You Need
  • More Centennial shoppers visit physical stores than those of other generations – and tend to find it a better experience than shopping online – meaning retailers have a critical opportunity to win them over from a young age through this touchpoint.
    • Consulting POV – This news shouldn’t be surprising: Gen Z shoppers have a much more flexible time schedule than most Millennials or Xers who have more complex lives. People don’t shop online because they’re magically digital and want to do everything digitally; they shop online because it solves a problem better given the resources that person has to bring to the problem. For shoppers for whom time is less scarce, the problem is different.  Meaghan Werle and Ben Antenore have put together a great overview of “Gen Z” (what we call Centennial shopping behavior) for those who want more detail.
  • Users will now be able to tap a shoppable product tag in an Instagram post, select product details, click a checkout button, and enter their payment and shipping information to complete the purchase, all without leaving the app.
  • HBR recommends that across nearly every industry, companies need to get a voice strategy – and fast.
    • Consulting POV – Well, Bradley Metrock (a voice consultant) clearly “worked with” HBR to author a piece saying brands need a voice strategy. This piece from Alice Fournier is a good overview of some good thinking on voice (or ping Bryan Gildenberg who has a couple of good decks on voice he’s used for industry events and for clients). 
  • Walmart’s latest pilot involves a new employee structure with fewer, but higher paid, midlevel managers.
    • Consulting POV – Fewer, more skilled employees makes sense as a construct, but creates an interesting social challenge for Walmart. They are either the #1 or #2 employer in 27 of America’s 50 state, and by a large margin the largest private employer in the USA.