The shift from brands and advertising to pipes and subscriptions is inevitable — and well underway. Want proof? Look to Disney.
Terms like ‘Disneyflix’ and ‘Apple Prime’ essentially describe how the most powerful global brand owners are coming to terms with the new rules of engagement. This is not just another story of new versus old, it’s a fundamental shift in the natural order of consumerism. Brands have traditionally been prized, while distribution has been more commoditized. The ‘must have’ things held the power. But if the pipes into people’s lives have become more powerful than the products that go through them, then we’re in the beginning of a new era. and the change is just beginning.
Brands to Pipes.
Why would the utility of pipes beat the romance of brands? It’s easy to misinterpret our love of convenience as love for brands. People are promiscuous, and even our favorite brands can be replaced if something better asserts itself.
The Google anti-diversity manifesto story is just one example of a powerful shift in what it means to be a brand.
So you took some time during the weekend to process the whole Google Anti-Diversity Manifesto scandal.
Just in case you virtuously stayed offline: an anonymous Google employee wrote a 10-page argument against the company’s efforts to improve diversity. It leaked and predictably got a lot of attention. You can read the whole thing here. But the core argument (warning, sexism ahead): there are fewer women in technical and leadership roles partly because of innate ‘biological’ differences between men and women. The author says that Google’s diversity initiatives ignore this core truth. In consequence they are ‘unfair, divisive and bad for business.’
Why are markets ignoring political chaos and merrily pushing upward? Plus P&G fights raiders, and Birkenstock goes ballistic.
Back in the go-go days of the first dot-com bubble, a pair of economic analysts wrote what became that era’s most discredited book: Dow 36,000. With the markets already at historic heights (the Dow reached a peak of 11,700 or so in early 2000, before crashing back to earth later that year), the duo predicted a three-fold rise to 36,000 in just a few short years.
The authors doubled down on their bet by publicly wagering that the index would be closer to 36,000 than 10,000 by the year 2010. The Dow would have had to cross 23,000 for them to have won. Thanks to the great recession of 2009, they lost that bet, bigly.
But just yesterday, the Dow flirted with 22,000, setting another record high amongst a string of record highs and prompting a slew of chin stroking pieces on the state of our financial markets. The New York Times set the tone, pointing out that “the president’s promise to slash regulations and cut taxes — even if unfulfilled — has stoked long-dormant animal spirits among investors. That corporate earnings are excelling and the global economy is growing faster than many expected has only added to the bullish vibe.”
Amazon is the first destination for most US consumers searching for products online. For venture-backed startups building direct-to-consumer brands, Amazon is often an afterthought. They fear ceding any level of control over the brand narrative and customer relationship, the core drivers of brand value. However, it’s becoming increasingly perilous to ignore Amazon.