So I have been thinking about commerce and brands lately. I talked to a few friends who work in or founded companies that sell clothing, CPGs, liquor brands and other products and one common theme has emerged. Making and manufacturing products is no longer really that big a differentiator.
Ok, so not that it is easy, but with the right resources and if you know where to look, I have spoken to people that have spun up new brands, spun up a supply chain and are ready to go-to-maket with a new product in 2-3ish months and they already have thousands of pre-sales. I've also observed many prominent e-sports figures launch their own branded clothing and apparel pieces to thier audience within 1-2 months of announcing it, often by manufacturer DesignByHumans. There are also similar brand such as that help sports and other team based orgs setup store fronts with their logo adorned brand name Nike, Adidas and Under Armor apparel. All of this points to an interesting future for consumer and CPG brands, are white-labelled products with brand names and individuals backing them the future?
A prime example of this playing out before our eyes was with UFC Star Connor McGregor and his Wiskey Brand Proper No. Twelve. McGregor founded the brand through with Erie Born Spirits which handles both the distillation, bottling and distribution of the Whisky. McGregor, as I'm sure many of us are familiar with the TV commercials and ad spots, is the quite public and popular face of the brand. McGregor was able to parlay his likeness into a $600M sale to Proximo Spirit. After the sale, Proximo actually paid to keep McGregor on as a brand ambassador given that his brand had become so tightly associated with the success of Proper No. Twelve that they feared the brand might not perform as well without him. As of the writing of this article there are 58 active, celebrity branded spirits on the market by our best count (this doesn't include beer & wine). Clearly this trend is showing no signs of slowing down.
Another interesting area where I think celebrity branded products will see a massive increase over the next decade, clothing. Startups like Qatch are building influencer platforms where influencers can partner with brands to highlight their favorite pieces and send them directly to thier audience via text. Clothing manufacturing has increasingly become a copy and paste process as evident by many larger brands such as Target, Walmart and Amazon launching thier own clothing lines and introducing new products under those flags. Why not parter with a celebrity endorser and put their name on a clothing line? Most celebrities, be it an athlete, movie star or musical artist have a particular look and or fashion style that they wear repeatedly and become know for. What if a manufacturer and designer built a line around that style and branded it with the individual similar to Kylie Jenner and her cosmetics brand?
So what would this shift entail for entrepreneurs in the creator and consumer good space look like? Well for one, there will be tremendous opportunity for more Shopify-stlye platforms to emerge and help these creators and celebrities build their own brand. Unlike Shopify, which is a more general e-commerce platform, these tools will emerge in specialty verticals and once they prove their efficacy will quickly see a ramp up in customer volume (liquor, clothing/apparel, and others). Eventually there could be an aggregation of these brands similar to how startups like OpenStore aggregates e-commerce sellers.
Another interesting space to look at is financing similar to SaaS financing platforms Pipe and Capchase. Could alternative financing options emerge, especially given the large scale of reach that celebrities and influencers already have so distribution won't be a concern. An interesting thought on the financing front, could NFTs play a role? A form of a collectable and a pre-sale token that give your fans and community the ability to guarantee early-access to a product and potentially other experiences or exclusive access. Brands can also help capture this momentum by partnering with influencers and celebrities to represent their products to to launch a new one, consumer trends are shifting away from brand advertising and more towards individuals who authentically represent that brand and what the product stands for.
This new future os going to open up a lot of opportunities both for brands, but also for entrepreneurs to help build tools solving challenges in this space. It will be exciting to see over the next decades what platforms and tools come to market and how they enable the future of brands and influencers.