140 episodes

The Modern Retail Podcast hears from executives in the retail space, from legacy companies to the buzzy world of DTC startups. Shareen Pathak, Digiday's managing director of editorial products, hosts.

The Modern Retail Podcast Digiday

    • Marketing
    • 4.9, 36 Ratings

The Modern Retail Podcast hears from executives in the retail space, from legacy companies to the buzzy world of DTC startups. Shareen Pathak, Digiday's managing director of editorial products, hosts.

    Blueland CEO Sarah Paiji Yoo on how the pandemic changed the cleaning supplies aisle

    Blueland CEO Sarah Paiji Yoo on how the pandemic changed the cleaning supplies aisle

    Blueland CEO Sarah Paiji Yoo wants you to know that when you pay for cleaning supplies at the grocery stores, you're mostly buying water. "Oftentimes consumers are paying really for a new plastic bottle -- and water, which we already have at home," Paiji Yoo said on the Modern Retail Podcast, which was recorded live during our Modern Retail Virtual Summit this week.
    Blueland sells concentrated tablets for consumers to mix their cleaning supplies on their own. The relatively tiny packaging is another differentiator compared to what you see from Ajax and Dove.
    "Existing CPG players were incentivized to have larger, bulkier packaging because this packaging really served as billboards in stores," Paiji Yoo said.
    Blueland goes the direct-to-consumer route, which Paiji Yoo considers to be the only route for products that depend on changing consumer behavior. Its appeal isn't just that it's a smaller, new kind of product; Blueland wants to eliminate single-use plastics. In the last two months it's expanded to the dishwasher and laundry categories (with a powder and tablets, respectively).
    The plastic films that keep your typical dishwashing pod together aren't all that good for the environment. "I think people think that because it dissolves that magically disappear. But unfortunately those plastic mulches enter our water systems," Paiji Yoo said.
    The pandemic has made consumers somewhat more likely to demote previous green concerns in exchange for effectiveness and availability, she said. But as a result of the crisis, she estimated, demand has been 4x what it would have been otherwise.

    • 24 min
    Pop Up Grocer founder Emily Schildt on rethinking the grocery experience

    Pop Up Grocer founder Emily Schildt on rethinking the grocery experience

    It took a trip to London for Emily Schildt to realize that American grocery stores could do better.
    "I came back personally really yearning for a grocery store experience like I had there," she said on the Modern Retail Podcast. "They were just beautiful spaces in which to shop -- gorgeous products, but really thoughtful display and design."
    Last year Schildt founded Pop Up Grocer, a traveling showcase of a few hundred products that sets up in U.S. cities for a month at a time. It had four locations to date; the next one opens in Brooklyn this October.
    Many of the goods, like cauliflower crust, are available at grocery stores already, but Schildt argues that they're buried in a mass of other items. Since the 90s, the average grocery store's number of items has mushroomed from 7,000 to between 40,000 and 50,000, according to a recent book on the topic.
    "It's a lot of cold outreach," she said about how she gets products that are worth the spotlight, many of which she finds on Instagram. A place at Pop Up Grocer helps show off brands that might otherwise remain obscure or have trouble selling online. "I think people find starting their own business so hard if they don't have all of the connections. And it's hard even if you do," Schildt said.
    Schildt talked about the company's move into ecommerce, plans to raise outside capital and her favorite place to shop for food in Paris.

    • 34 min
    'We're humans, we're aspirational by nature': Reel CEO Daniela Corrente on what consumers are saving money for

    'We're humans, we're aspirational by nature': Reel CEO Daniela Corrente on what consumers are saving money for

    Piggy banks aren't especially in vogue, but the idea behind them sticks. By saving up a little over the long haul, you can pool quite a bit of money — enough, in Reel's experience, to pay for a luxury handbag, furniture or some electronics.
    The personal finance app lets customers save up for specific items. Users pick something and commit to wiring Reel a few dollars a day for it, setting an enticing timeline into motion. Put aside $5 a day for 12 weeks, for instance, and Reel will take care of shipping you that Apple Watch you've had your eye on.
    It's a win-win situation, in CEO and co-founder Daniela Corrente's telling. Customers save responsibly for stuff that may have felt was outside their price range, and companies working with Reel create a new touchpoint for cost-concerned customers (the only loser might be credit card companies, which Corrente doesn't feel too bad about; she had her fair share of credit card debt in college).
    "Many of our customers have gotten their first luxury handbag through our website. So we're actually converting them and giving brands the opportunity to leverage our platform," Corrente said on the Modern Retail Podcast.
    The average customer, she added, has two or three "active reels" they're saving for.
    With the pandemic continuing to constrict people's social lives, purchases for fashion -- Reel's first vertical when it launched in 2016 -- have dipped. Meanwhile, the company accelerated its expansion to other categories. "Our priorities has humans have varied, because we're 24/7 at home now. A lot of us, we don't necessarily have a house that's fit to work from," Corrente said. "All of a sudden, [users are] investing more in making your house prettier, more accommodating for working from home, investing more in fitness from home... those have all been categories that have catapulted since this happened."

    • 31 min
    Bacardi CMO John Burke on e-commerce and at-home drinking

    Bacardi CMO John Burke on e-commerce and at-home drinking

    Closed spaces, mingling strangers and loud music to shout over -- bars seem purpose-built for spreading the coronavirus.
    According to Bacardi CMO John Burke, that means people will be doing their drinking, and less of it, at home.
    "This summer there'll be a lot more drinking out of home because people feel much more comfortable social distancing at home," Burke said on the Modern Retail Podcast. "We predicted that trend back in early April, and we've switched to producing quite a lot of our brands into ready-to-drink packaging."
    The only bright spot in a recent report by IWSR is indeed in the ready-to-drink category (like last summer's hit, White Claw) which the market analyst estimates will grow by more than a fifth this year in the U.S.
    Alcohol's popularity was on a downward trajectory even before the pandemic, and globally may not return to pre-coronavirus levels until 2024, according to the report. The latest slump only sharpens, according to Burke, a trend that Bacardi is prepared for: "the desire to drink less spirits and seek lower alcohol or no alcohol solutions. That's a trend that we expect to see massively amplified."
    Given how that expectation combined with the pandemic, Bacardi expanded the launch of a zero alcohol aperitif under its Martini label. "Despite disruption in the industry we'll deliver ahead of target for this year on that innovation," Burke said.
    Another silver lining is the growth of e-commerce for Bacardi's spirits, starting from an "abnormally low level" compared to other sectors. "In the last three months we've probably seen two years' development take place," Burke said. "The number of people who've had their first ecomm experience of buying liquor online is huge. That creates a permanent change in our industry structure."

    • 33 min
    Cleo Capital's Sarah Kunst on scouting for business ideas in unlikely places

    Cleo Capital's Sarah Kunst on scouting for business ideas in unlikely places

    Cleo Capital's Sarah Kunst thinks the investing landscape focuses a great deal on the top of Maslow's hierarchy of needs -- in plainspeak, that's stuff that isn't really essential. Or, in Kunst's words, the kind of product that answers the question: "what will make you feel better in the moment?"
    Her investments are in companies that supply basic needs. "There's the whole thing on the bottom: where you do you live, where do you eat, how do you feel loved?' Kunst said on the Modern Retail Podcast.
    That includes Zero, which calls itself "the first plastic-free grocery delivery service" -- and is available in the Bay Area only, for now -- and StyleSeat, which aims to help beauty professionals run and grow their personal businesses.
    Kunst also started a scout program -- "when a venture fund pays for you to angel invest" -- and Chrysalis, a fellowship for tech workers laid-off as a result of the coronavirus (and curious to start their own businesses). "This wasn't us flying everybody to a private island for six weeks, it was 'hey, we have a Slack channel,'" Kunst said. "When you provide space for people, a lot of creativity just kind of flourishes."
    "We didn't turn people into founders. We took people that we believed could be founders and we showed them that a lot of what was holding them back was that zero to one. Candidly, they didn't even need an idea. Not every person started their own company. A lot of them joined with other people," Kunst said.

    • 35 min
    'It's completely inverted': Sanzo founder Sandro Roco on the coronavirus's effect on DTC demand

    'It's completely inverted': Sanzo founder Sandro Roco on the coronavirus's effect on DTC demand

    Before the pandemic, the zero (or low) sugar beverage brand Sanzo had all the scrappy upstart charm and aesthetic of a DTC brand. But, it still sold mostly through wholesale -- 70 to 80%, in founder Sandro Roco's estimate.
    That's changed. "Since the pandemic, it's completely inverted, and even more extremely so," Roco said on the Modern Retail Podcast. "During this pandemic, if you're looking at CPG sales and specifically sparkling water, a lot more folks are willing to order sparkling water to their home than many other CPG categories."
    That's good for Sanzo, which sells 12-packs of "Asian-inspired sparkling water" online, where subscriptions are possible, but also through bodegas, grocery stores, and soon, 50 Whole Foods outlets in the Tri-State area.
    Depressed advertising costs at the start of the pandemic led the company to "dust off the DTC playbook pretty quickly," according to Roco.
    "I don't know that there will ever be an opportunity for a digital marketer like what we had in March and April," Roco said. "You had the combination of the powerful targeting that Facebook and Instagram have to offer -- which, obviously there's a whole other consumer conversation around data privacy and what not, but at least to a marketer, it's still a very robust advertising engine -- with also CPMs or ad rates that you've just never seen on this platform."
    Sanzo has also partnered with the Coca-Cola backed Iris Nova, through which it's benefitted from their text order platform.

    • 37 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
36 Ratings

36 Ratings

Quags ,

Excellent, unique, personal insights

I’ve been listening to this show for some time, and it always brings interesting insights and perspectives to the table. I particularly enjoyed the Atoms episode, what a unique and intriguing story! Great listen for marketers looking to stand out.

HoupA ,

Stay up to date on marketing trend!

Today’s marketing changes by the day! This pod cast helps me stay on trend and sometimes ahead! Thanks!

boogs122006 ,

So insightful!

Great explanation of the Foot Locker business and the importance of product and consumer diversity.

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