Headwinds For DTC Brands; Tailwinds For Big Tech

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Store Of Value

Many direct-to-consumer brands haven’t been able to maintain growth rates or flip to profitability. It’s been more than three years since Unilever dropped $1 billion on the men’s grooming brand Dollar Shave Club, and that business is still losing money, The Wall Street Journal reports. The true CPG brand battlefield, at least for US consumers, may still be store shelves. Nowadays, DTC companies are judged on whether they can graduate from social media and ecommerce to big box stores or grocers. “We gave up on the direct-to-consumer angle to work with retailers,” said Yanghee Paik, co-founder and CEO of the feminine care product startup Rael. “We’re already asking people to convert from conventional products made by the P&Gs of the world. To also buy online is asking for a lot of change.” More.

Heads-Up For Headwinds

A year ago, big tech looked poised for calamity. The whole stock market was sinking under fears of a trade war or recession. And Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet were each being pummeled by scandals and macro-headwinds. But, seemingly against tough odds, the tech sector (and in particular the big five – the four aforementioned titans plus Microsoft) staged impressive rallies in 2019. But the gains for big tech are driven by results, The New York Times reports. Despite regulatory concerns and slowdowns in key markets like China, these companies put up strong growth numbers this year. Can the hot streak continue? “The law of large numbers means it is far more difficult to generate large percentage increases in value. A unique confluence of factors allowed these companies to break that law this year. But observers say it’s unlikely they will regularly clock such large gains.” More. It isn’t just a banner year for big tech, though. LiveRamp, The Trade Desk, Rubicon Project, Cardlytics and Telaria, among other ad tech and data companies, have also seen surprising growth in 2019, despite fears of a collapse late last year.

The Stories Story 

Facebook’s big bet on Instagram Stories is starting to pay off. The ad unit now takes in 10% of all ad spend across Facebook’s apps, according to a report by social media marketing firm Socialbakers. The success of Instagram Stories shows that Facebook is keeping up with shifts in user behavior and advertisers are catching on quickly, Bloomberg reports. Advertiser spending on Instagram stories was up 70% year over year, according to Socialbakers, and the feature has over 500 million daily active users. The Stories format isn’t having as much success on Facebook’s core platform, however; Facebook Stories commanded 0.3% of total ad spending across its platforms. More.

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