Weekly News Brief
WHO MOVED MY CHEESE?
The latest company on the retail chopping block is True Religion, who has filed for bankruptcy protection and is most likely to close under-performing stores as well as shore up their e-commerce business. This year has seen significant retail job losses, exceeding 60,000 YTD in the US alone.
This problem then, is that e-commerce jobs are not growing at a rate where they can absorb the unemployment caused by mass lay-offs at traditional retailers. Moreover, e-commerce jobs tend to gravitate towards different skill sets, large cities, and tech hubs. Where does this leave suburban communities? This Bloomberg article speculates on how suburban towns and cities will adapt and become more compact in response to the decline in physical retail.
NOT THE ONLY ONE
Amazon, Google and Apple better make room for more competition in the digital speaker-assistant arena. Going head-to-head are Alibaba's Tmall Genie X-1, and Baidu's Xiaoyu, powered by their proprietary DuerOS voice recognition software. Tencent is also expected to release their own voice-activated speaker within the year.
It's a race to capture market share, and Amazon is trying to get a leg up on voice shopping with Prime Day promotions, offering Alexa users early access (before July 11) and sweetening the pot with more deals. Just don't try to order Whole Foods on it.
BACK TO THE STREETS
What it comes to courting Generation Y and Z consumers, the most efficient method for luxury fashion houses is to collaborate on capsule collections with, you guessed it, cool streetwear brands. Limited edition collabs hit a sweet spot, releasing hoodies, bags and sneakers that roll up scarcity, novelty, and practicality all in one. The streetwear wave has been rapidly gaining momentum in the past years, to the point where Fashionista calls it into question: Is streetwear the new Americana?
On July 4th, a boiler exploded at a garment factory in Bangladesh, resulting in 13 casualties and dozens of injuries. While this has been called an outlier accident, it serves to emphasize that there is still much work to do to uphold the Bangladesh Accord (which was agreed upon after the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013). This article by Quartz talks about the difficulties faced by garment factory businesses, who carry the burden of paying for and implementing the improvements required by the accord.
☀️ THIS WEEK'S BRIGHT SPOT ☀️
Sharing is caring (and profitable). China's sharing economy is on the rise, and is estimated to contribute 10% to the mainland's GDP by 2020. Riding on this wave are start-ups like Dou Bao Bao and Y-Closet, who make a business out of renting luxury bags and apparel, respectively.
On the topic of the Chinese consumer, Technode has collated reports from McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group on the five digital trends and consumer profiles to know in 2017.