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Episode 316
August 18, 2023

Culture is the Future of Commerce

To understand the future, you must understand culture. That’s the focus of today’s syndicated episode with our friends from eCommerce Fuel. Andrew Youderian sits down with Phillip to discuss the Future Commerce perspective on how cultures adopt commerce as a means of belonging, and how those behaviors are shaping our vision of the future. Listen now!

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To understand the future, you must understand culture. That’s the focus of today’s syndicated episode with our friends from eCommerce Fuel. Andrew Youderian sits down with Phillip to discuss the Future Commerce perspective on how cultures adopt commerce as a means of belonging, and how those behaviors are shaping our vision of the future. Listen now!

Real Brands Take Time to Build. We’re in too much of a hurry.

  • Branding is not just about aesthetics; it's about endurance and persistence.
  • Physical media provides a grounding experience amidst the digital world.
  • Nostalgia and nostalgic content serve as an antidote to our fast-paced, digital lives.
  • The enduring brands are the ones that persist despite all odds.
  • Attention spans are decreasing, highlighting the need for authentic, tangible experiences.

{00:08:08} - “When you're looking at what differentiates a successful brand or a generational brand or what you might call a cultural brand from another is their awareness and insight of what is happening in the world and where they belong in it and what their voice or tone or tenor is when speaking to that element of culture.” - Phillip

{00:13:49} - “You're never going to wrangle in your consumption, and we're never going to solve some of the problems in this world around sustainability, or climate change if we don't wrangle in some of the worst of us in our human nature. How can we come to a shared understanding of the challenges that we face both in business and in our personal lives?” - Phillip

{00:16:17} - “Commerce entrepreneurship is one of the greatest, most powerful, most incredible ways to instigate change in the world because creating new ways of engaging with people that have to engage in commerce and doing so with a mindset from the get-go that you have a purpose and a place in this world and you're trying to will something into being, I think it's a very powerful force for change.” - Phillip

{00:21:20} - “This renaissance and this nostalgia for physical media is also powering brand trends and design trends that harken back to the eras in which those pieces of media were created. These things help us to understand not just that the trend exists, but why the trend exists. And if we could think about those two things in tandem, maybe we can forecast where the next trend is going.” - Phillip

{00:37:27} - “If you are not plugged into TikTok three hours a day and you're able to actually be able to keep that muscle of long-term concentration, it seems like that's going to be a huge competitive advantage for building entrepreneurship and for just life in general.” - Andrew

{00:45:06} - “Real brands take time. We're in such a hurry. We're in an unbelievable hurry. If you want to have a brand that endures, you have to endure. And so you just have to keep surviving.” - Phillip

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Phillip: [00:00:00] It doesn't matter who you are in this world, you have to engage in commerce, from the greatest to the least of these. We have to engage in the buying and selling of goods or the needs, values, and services exchanged that require us to take place, to inhabit physical space in the world. Whether you have little or you have much, you have to engage in commerce. That is a unifying factor that we can all agree on.

Phillip: [00:01:45] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast at the intersection of culture and commerce. Action-packed show here today. For the first time ever, we're bringing you a syndicated conversation. I sat down with Andrew Youderian from the eCommerceFuel community for his podcast, and I have been such a fan of Andrew for years. And of course, if you're a seven to eight-figure eCommerce brand, you probably know Andrew already from the eCommerceFuel community. It's a community that helps brand founders and operators to grow their businesses. I just respect him so much. And so it was an incredible joy to be able to go on his podcast and share a little bit about what Future Commerce believes and what we're making and the things that we're creating in the world. We've never actually shared something like that with the Future Commerce audience before. So we're going to bring that here to you in just a little bit today. Also, we are heading to Boston for the annual event that closes out August. Of course, I'm talking about eTail. And then a little later on in the week, if you're listening to this on the release week, we'll be heading over to Napa for our friends at Bloomreach are having the Edge Summit, which is covering the changes in AI. And we actually performed a good deal of research with our Future Commerce Advisory Panel and talked with brand operators and brand owners about what they think the future of commerce and specifically generative AI will look like. That report will be out very soon. So it's a very busy week here for us. But as if that wasn't enough, we did our very first product drop with Visions. Of course, we already had The Multiplayer Brand, which is a 100-page zine that is out now. You can get it at, but it is not the only print piece that we are putting together here this year. We have a brand new limited edition collaboration that we did with the artist Chandler Reed, who, if you're familiar with bands like My Morning Jacket, he does tour posters, an incredible visual artist, and we paired up with him in a commission with the brand studio All True and we made 30 hand-numbered prints of this tour poster, that style of a tour poster, on an archival print. It's an 11 by 18 poster that will look amazing in your office in the background of your TikTok videos. It will inspire your friends and make your enemies hate you. {laughter} Go get it. It's a or subscribe to Future Commerce, so that you can get in on product drops. We've got 30 of them available and it will go to Advisory Panel members first. So if you participate in research with us, you'll be the first to get in on those drops, and hey, sign up over there at We have a lot happening here. So if you are in Boston, you're in Napa, or maybe you are wanting to meet us in a bunch of Q3 events, we're going to be on the road a little bit here as conference season winds back up through the end of Q3. Hey, don't miss out. I want you to follow us on social media. We're @FutureCommerce everywhere. Drop us a line. While you're at it, follow along with my conversation with Andrew about the Visions report. There are four things you need to know that are shaping the way that people buy and belong, and it's all in our trends report, Visions. Again, you can get it all at Follow along with my conversation with Andrew. Of course, I sat down with Andrew to talk about the future of commerce just a few weeks ago. We teased out these ideas of what each of these trends are all about. We also talk about the Archetypes Journal, and we discuss what I think the future looks like. And I think that if you are a brand operator, if you are in a seven to eight-figure eCommerce brand and you're looking for a community to help you grow, you can't get any better than eCommerceFuel. Go apply to join eCommerceFuel. I know it's going to help you. It's helped so many people in our eCommerce ecosystem over the last decade and Andrew is an absolute legend. So without any further ado, this is my conversation on eCommerceFuel with Andrew Youderian talking about what is the future of commerce.

Andrew: [00:05:57] I'm very guilty about rehashing a lot of those things I just threw under the bus. But someone who's done a really great job of taking a different approach to this, looking at eCommerce and commerce in general and more of a cultural framework, talking about branding. Branding is something I deeply want to start investing more time understanding and studying and talking about. And I feel who's been ahead of the curve is Phillip Jackson. He's the Co-Founder of where they really study and look at and promote and try to dissect that intersection of culture and commerce. He has a podcast, they have a newsletter, research reports, events, and they just do a lot of really interesting things. And so had a great chance to catch up with him a couple of weeks ago and wanted to have him back on for something a little bit more formal but really excited to dive into... We're gonna dive into all of that, including a big report they have coming out that talks a lot about some really interesting ways commerce is going to be changing in the future with some of the political and cultural, and technological changes that we have. So anyway, all that said, Phillip, welcome, sir, and great... I love the work that you're doing in this space, man. Welcome to the show.

Phillip: [00:06:56] Thank you. If you're just listening on the audio feed, I'm like hand to heart. This is such a huge moment because I have so much respect for you and the community you've built. I have been in eCommerce for almost 20 years, and it's rare that you come across people that only say great things behind people's back and you're one of those people. It's such a pleasure and honor to be here. Thank you.

Andrew: [00:07:18] Thanks, man. I appreciate that. Well, before we dive in, too, because we're gonna spend a lot of time talking about the Visions report that you spent an unholy amount of time and energy, and love pouring into. But I want to before we do, you kind of have this different take on business and commerce that I think is really interesting. So if you would talk a little bit about that. What is it that... How do you approach it differently? I kind of teed up a little bit of it in the intro, but how do you look at that world differently and maybe a little, you know, almost as importantly, what is it that has shaped you into doing that? What in your past or background or in your worldview has made you kind of look at the commerce world differently than probably your average person on Twitter?

Phillip: [00:08:01] We could spend probably the whole of this time just talking about that. I think that when you're looking at what differentiates a successful brand or a generational brand or what you might call a cultural brand from another is their awareness and insight of what is happening in the world and where they belong in it and what their voice or tone or tenor is when speaking to that element of culture. And the question we get over and over when you call yourself Future Commerce, inevitably someone's going to ask you, what is the future of commerce, Phillip?

Andrew: [00:08:35] That's pretty fair.

Andrew: [00:08:35] Yeah, it's a fair question. I didn't have a great answer for a number of years because the thing that people want to hear, Andrew, is they want to hear some technology. They want to hear a choice. There's a choice of technology, a channel, or an emergent marketing campaign. There's something that they want to hear that's a tactical output. A place where they can put investment. But I think that there is an abstract answer to this that if we all understood, we would be better for. And the reason I sort of shy away from tactics is I spent 20 years helping eCommerce companies and eCommerce brands to deploy tactical advice. But the thing they failed at over and over is they aligned the wrong tactic to the wrong strategy because they had a lack of vision. And what I see is the greatest answer to what is the future of commerce; The future of commerce is whatever a culture decides that it should be, in which case you have to recognize that in that statement that every culture and every subculture is different to another. And that means that things that culturally work in the West, things that work in the US and Canada, are not necessarily transplantable. They're not playbooks that are able to be run in other cultures, rote, word for word. You have to adapt things for the culture in which it inhabits. Typically I have taken a hard line on things like, well, what is the future of commerce? Well, it's obviously live streaming because it works in Asia, but we have a very different culture to what has happened in Asia, especially in China over the last 30 years. You have people learning how to be consumers for the first time. I've grown up and you've grown up in a consumer-centric society. We've been amassed and awash for the whole of our lives in how to consume. So our approach to commerce is different and fundamentally going to look different to another culture. I could go deeper, but generally. The best brands in the world do this and they do this really well and they employ hordes of people and teams just to understand and gather cultural insights to synthesize them and then put that into action of what does that mean for our brand? If you're Adidas, if you're Nike, you're Walmart, if you're Amazon, you understand where the culture is going because you're thinking about it constantly. They have people to think about it constantly. What if seven and eight-figure brands could do that too? And that's what Future Commerce helps you to do. We are your cultural insights and foresight team that you would never otherwise build.

Andrew: [00:11:09] Yeah, and we talked again a little bit about this last time, but we're both in eCommerce, we're both in commerce, we both at some level or at a lot of levels helping people sell more stuff. And I think both you and I, even being in that space, both you and I would be able to look each other right in the face and say, "People don't need more stuff." Like people have way too much junk, you know, probably, myself included. How do you reconcile those two things? I think about that sometimes. Sometimes you think like, "Man, is this really helping people that much, what I'm doing?" And I have a few answers for that. Maybe I'm deceiving myself, but how do you think about that? Because I know we talked about that before.

Phillip: [00:11:44] I think that this is an existential question that we all have to face right now. I was just listening to a podcast about one thing that all cultures have in common. So there is a new movie that's just come out that is an hour and 40 minutes long, has no dialog, and the movie centers entirely on what humans do with waste. What do we do with waste? Do you know what is one monoculture and one cultural artifact that every single society has in common is we don't want to see our waste. There is a human aversion to seeing the product of our wastefulness and our consumption. In Finland, they'll box it up and they ship it off and they stack these boxes like they're Lego. Everyone has a different way of packaging and hiding their waste. In the Atacama Desert right now, there is a fashion graveyard that is growing so large you can see it from space. And while we all have to contend with the fact that we all believe we need more stuff or we have the desire to continue to consume, I do think that it is by human nature to consume, and it is one of the things that are driving the trends that are present in our report right now is this nature to consume. So I have this background that we've talked about before where I'm a deeply spiritual person and I help other people to discover their spirituality as well in a pastoral role. And I've been a pastor at a local church for about 12 years as a part-time minister, just helping people in my local community to get more in touch with their spirituality in particular their relationship with Jesus. But what everybody's expression of that deep desire in this nature that they feel like they have to get in touch with something larger than themselves, we all have something in common there. So what I see is that nature inside of me and helping someone discover something requires you to develop some level of discipline because you're never going to grow in your faith if you don't have some discipline over the things that are preventing you from having that deeper level of growth. You're never going to wrangle in your consumption, and we're never going to solve some of the problems in this world around sustainability, or climate change if we don't wrangle in some of the worst of us in our human nature. We have to put some of our human nature to bed. So we do wrestle with some of these things. I don't think head-on, though, because very few people I've learned professionally now part-time, no one likes to be preached at. So one of those things is how can we come to a shared understanding of the challenges that we face both in business and in our personal lives. How do those things intersect with each other? How do we have a conversation around that? And how do we do that with people that fundamentally are selling things in the world that, you know, some customers didn't even know they wanted until they saw the ad? But don't know if that answers your question. I think it's a tough question to answer.

Andrew: [00:14:44] Yeah, it's tough. And I kind of lobbed it at you.

Phillip: [00:14:48] Feel free to edit it out. {laughter}

Andrew: [00:14:50] No, no. I think for me, I think through one thing that gives me a lot of hope for the future of eCommerce and being in this industry, when I've really sat down and thought about it was I'm pretty confident about two things. One, I'm confident people are still going to buy stuff in ten, 20, 50, 1000 years. And two, they're likely going to be buying more of that online than they are in person as a general trend over time. And when you buy something that is a great product, that is beautifully made or just solves a problem for you or helps your life or brings a great tradition into your life or helps you bond, there are really fantastic products that genuinely help people in the world. And there are alternatively probably 5 to 10 times as many bad ones. But there are great products that really improve people's lives. And so I think that's a cool part of if you can help more of those people really get out into the world and succeed, I think that's cool.

Phillip: [00:15:40] This is one of the core beliefs. So we have a mission statement at Future Commerce. One of our core beliefs is commerce touches everybody. It doesn't matter who you are in this world, you have to engage in commerce. From the greatest to the least of these. e have to engage in the buying and selling of goods or the needs, values, and services exchanged that require us to take place, to inhabit physical space in the world. Whether you have little or you have much, you have to engage in commerce. That is a unifying factor that we can all agree on. And therefore, I think that commerce entrepreneurship is one of the greatest, most powerful, most incredible ways to instigate change in the world because creating new ways of engaging with people that have to engage in commerce and doing so with a mindset from the get-go that you have a purpose and a place in this world and you're trying to will something into being, I think it's a very powerful force for change. And if we can inspire those people, I think we can have a real impact on the way that society interacts with each other, if we have to engage in commerce and we can change commerce, maybe we can change... If we can change the culture in commerce, is how we say it, then maybe we can change the culture through commerce. And that's, you know, a good perspective for us as we're creating content, as we're performing research and as we're holding these events, is that the people in the room that we serve, that we're inspiring, are the ones who are actually doing the work. Hopefully, we're helping them to do that work with a little bit better foresight.

Andrew: [00:17:13] Yeah. I want to talk about your Visions report. So every year you put out a big report kind of looking at and again, less tactical. I do a big report as well. I don't think nearly as well or as beautifully as you do it. It's more focused on tactics and demographic trends and things like that and measurable things. I'm a number finance guy, o those are easier for me to look at. But your focus is more on like you kind of alluded to, where the culture is going, shifts in behavior, really high-level cultural and economic trends that are going to have a bigger impact, but maybe longer to play out. And so the one this year that's coming out very soon is called Visions: Volume IV. And it's I believe you mentioned it's kind of for heads of product or owners of brands to understand how the future is going to really impact how their brand is going to resonate or not with their customers. And so there's a lot of things that you talked about at a high level. Some of the themes we're going to dive into, most of these, the reemergence of old media was something you're discovering, a lack of a counterculture, the canonization of commerce, and the emergence of niche critics, treating people as machines, and then nostalgia for a less complex world. And I want to start with the reemergence of old media. Talk a little bit about that, if you would. And I've got a couple of follow-ups, but I'll let you tee it up or take it from there. But what are you seeing with the reemergence of old media and how that's impacting marketing and branding and how people connect with brands?

Phillip: [00:18:35] Well, let's start with, these are all what we've described as sort of loops and they're sort of sympathetically influencing each other. So one of these trends has a huge impact on another. When you see this reemergence of physical media, we're sitting at a moment right now where a number of things are happening in our world. The first is that there are capital incentives for the big media corporations that we all depend on for entertainment, after a decade of competition with each other, to begin to pare back their catalogs. And if you lurk on physical media subreddits, for instance, like DVD collection, like our DVD collection or VHS, you'll see that there is a growing worry and concern that some of the things that we love that are cultural touchstones... And you keep using this word culture. It's so important to understand that there are things that we can all agree on that exist in the world right now, in this moment, because we have all lived in the same moment in time and space. You've probably seen The Little Mermaid. We can all sing a little bit of Part of Your World. But my children's world is very different to what my world is. My world, we had a shared context. My children's world, there is no such thing as a shared context. The things and the media that they interact with, like YouTube shorts and TikTok are fundamentally different from between my two girls to everyone else that they know in their school. They are cultivating and gardening their algorithm all the time, and they struggle to share context. So the reemergence of physical media, why are cassette tape sales at a 20 year high? Why are vinyl records making a comeback? Why is Taylor Swift reissuing her catalog on physical media? Why are DVD sales beginning to spike back? And why are resale marketplaces that power all of these things having year over year record profits? It's because there is a lack of physical permanence in our world and we are physical beings. One of the things we say in the report is that anything less is body betrayal. We spend so much of our lives tapped into the Matrix. We're on Spotify for music, we're on YouTube for entertainment, Netflix for long-form media viewing, and we're second screening through all of it. We're so immersed in the ephemeral digital media. Physical media grounds us. And so we're answering a question of, well, we know why, but it's bigger than just that. There is also a deep sense of nostalgia that is powering this that everyone is feeling from Gen Z and Gen Alpha onward. And so this renaissance and this nostalgia for physical media is also powering brand trends and design trends that harken back to the eras in which those pieces of media were created. So you're seeing low-fi audio has record scratches and dust and crackle. You're seeing video channels that have the aesthetic of VHS tapes. These things help us to understand not just that the trend exists, but why the trend exists. And if we could think about those two things in tandem, maybe we can forecast where the next trend is going.

Andrew: [00:21:59] I had no idea that things like DVDs... Vinyl is always kind of cool audio file, hipster kind of vibe. I would have guessed that's always been popular. But DVDs, cassettes, things like that, really surprised me that those are kind of making a comeback. And you think about, too, not exactly sure how old you are, but we're roughly ballpark, plus or minus, similar generations. And think about, you know, I grew up watching a lot of PBS because my parents would kind of were hawks about the TV but like you know Reading Rainbow, 3-2-1 Contact, those kind of things. If you haven't seen them, I'm guessing you've probably heard about them. But yeah, today if you're 14 or 15, you've got this hyper-personalized list of things that you may or may not be sharing with your friends. I never even thought about that. Talk a little bit, if you would, about... So you have one of the many things that you do at future Future Commerce is you have something called Archetypes, which is among other things, it's a print publication that comes out, I'm guessing a couple of times a year. I'm not sure.

Phillip: [00:22:58] It's annual. Yeah.

Andrew: [00:22:59] Annual. Okay. Yeah. Covering a lot of the things that you're talking about here, you know, commerce, culture, but in a beautiful print, large size medium, and I feel like... Mike from Mountain Gazette. He's an eCommerceFuel member. He's been launching like a huge, not a magazine, but like a plus size magazine in print. It comes out twice a year. I'll find myself sitting down with that and reading it for extended periods, even thought about doing something like that for eCommerceFuel. Talk a little bit about like what made you do, you know, because again, that's a re-emergence of kind of an older media form. Talk about your experience with that and why you're investing in that and the reaction to it.

Phillip: [00:23:35] The real desire to want to publish the writings and some of our perspectives into print is the same thing that fuels the anxiety around Station 11 disappearing from Netflix. And you can only buy it on DVD. It's that when it disappears from your inbox and the email that we sent you is no longer worthy of being queued when you're trying to reach inbox zero, whatever it was that we wrote down, is gone forever in your mind. And what we are trying to do is our conversations and the things we write about are so, I feel like, durable because they're examining aspects of human behavior. Now they are rooted in the moment and we're tying them to things in the moment, but we're examining human behavior. And so I think they're worthy of living on longer than what the time frame that you have to check it out in your email amongst all of the other newsletters you'll get on Sunday or Monday morning would give you. So the desire there was just to put it into something physical that would allow you to unplug a little bit while you're trying to engage with more long form content. And these pieces are usually 2500, 3000 words. It takes a lot of time to research and write a piece of that nature. Also, we started to realize that print by nature has an aesthetic. There's an aesthetic that comes along with print. It anchors you in a design choice that evokes an emotion. It makes you feel something. I don't believe that digital media, especially written digital media, has the same impact. There's something about sitting down with a book, in our case, a large format magazine. It's 240 pages and it weighs 2 pounds. I wish it weighed less than 2 pounds. It would be cheaper to mail, but it is a prolific piece that is beautiful. We paid for embossing. We have vellum paper in there. It's like it's worthy of living on a coffee table for years and reminding you that there's something deeper in there that you just haven't seen yet. And it is full of interviews and insights of people from our industry who we would consider to be archetypes of success to some degree. We sit down with Ju Rhyu last year in September after she sold Hero Cosmetics to Church & Dwight for $640 million. She told us the whole story from top to bottom, and she is an archetype. Her brand is called Hero Cosmetics. She is our Hero Archetype. We're going to learn more about what both the Hero Archetype is and how she sees herself being a Hero to her customers and how her customers are Heroes in their own lives in turn. So I think this concept of brand archetypes and the Jungian brand archetypes, you know, Jester, Hero, Lover, Ruler, Caregiver, Innocent, the Sage, the Magician, these are things that are commonly understood. And there are a clever device for us to be able to have a deeper conversation about what it means to deliver eCommerce or retail experiences in the world.

Andrew: [00:27:46] I wonder if it's not just print. I think you're right. I think print to some degree, especially when done well, has a very distinct characteristic. But I wonder if it's also just about competition and what you're used to. Like 20 years ago, people didn't spend most of their life online. Now they spend most of their life online. 20 years ago, you could buy a magazine that didn't have ads on three out of the four pages. Now, if you go into, you know, a newsstand, you can add even a magazine you're paying $5 or $6 for is probably going to be at least 40% ads, right? So, yeah. I mean, I find myself I've got... Yeah, just on my coffee table, like you said, I've got stuff that I put there and love, because it's done really well and I'll grab it and it's just it's much easier to be able to come and take up a lot of my mind space and me to focus on it. Talk a little bit about, if you would, the canonization of commerce and the emergence of niche critics. That was kind of like one of the big takeaways, but break that down a little. What does that mean? That's a mouthful.

Phillip: [00:28:41] It is a mouthful. Well, this is one of the trends in this year's Visions report, and it actually links right back to that print aesthetic as well. So we do have a piece of print, a new book coming out called The Multiplayer Brand. And The Multiplayer Brand does focus on this idea that a class of critics have emerged in the eCommerce set. Now, I told you earlier that I've been doing this for 20 years. I am probably the chief critic among us. I have been doing this for 20 years and I have a hot take about everything. I don't necessarily publish it all these days, but there is a class of short-form content creators, specifically people on TikTok or YouTube shorts who have made their whole persona in analyzing consumer brands, analyzing consumer brand campaigns and brand aesthetics, logo design, UI and UX choices even so far as lighthouse scores and web performance. And they use this as an element of critique to draw some sort of conclusion around the quality or the belovedness of a brand. And this is an interesting thing in the world and that it's not 1 or 2 people, it's not 20 people. It is hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people to the point that there is a commercial opportunity to take this new area of criticism and to try to make a living off of it. A few people that are both going to be at our summit are featured in both our report and in this print piece, The Multiplayer Brand, a TikToker named Ashwin Krishnaswamy, who does this with remarkable detail and an incredible amount of output, just does incredible thoughtful teardowns and critique of brands. There's a Neil Stephen who is a retail analyst who goes into Macy's and takes pictures of disheveled shelves and, you know, posts them on Twitter for us to sort of gawk at about, "Oh, how far these beautiful, mighty retail establishments have fallen." These sorts of critics of commerce are effectively communicating to us that there is a way of doing things. There is not just a way that works, but maybe there's a right way. And in their minds, if they did it their way, the brands would be better off for it. And if consumers were aware of the better way that they would make better choices around the products they purchase and be able to spot brands that aren't doing a good job and save themselves some pain and some money in the process. That is a canon. That is a canonization of a book that becomes a sacred text on which we build a best practice. I have been critiqued in the past myself for calling Baymard into question. It was like a Baymard Institute becomes an institution that disperses religious knowledge.

Andrew: [00:31:38] Can I interrupt you to ask what Baymard is for people who aren't familiar with that? Can you describe what the Baymard Institute is?

Phillip: [00:31:44] Yeah. So they call themselves an institution as an organization that proliferates a phenomenal amount of user research, user experience research, and user interface design to promote best practices, equitable design experiences, and generally the better way to find paths both to conversion and to reducing customer friction. They produce a phenomenal amount of content. They have both continuing education courses, paid courses, cohort-based studies, paid research, and also a bunch of free content as well. And I would say that the eCommerce ecosystem as a whole is better for Baymard existing and other institutions like it. But generally what happens is that an institution like Baymard is only supporting the businesses that exist in the present. If you're a future commerce, you don't use best practices to build the future. New best practices emerge by people who break the current best practices to build new ones. And that is the real conversation here at the core of what is a canonization of eCommerce. Can we really say that commerce has become sort of canon in that there is a set of texts that we all agree upon as being sort of gospel and divergence from that, therefore, is some sort of heretical deed that's worthy of critique by people on the Internet. And it's prolific. There's a lot of this happening in the world, so much so that we're putting out a whole piece, a whole piece of research about it.

Andrew: [00:33:23] Man, what about another one you mentioned is nostalgia for a less complex world and tangible shared experiences and maybe dovetailing a little bit into we touched on it a little bit with DVDs and kind of emergence of old media and, and kind of print, but it goes beyond that. So yeah. What are some of the things you found beyond the things we've already covered for that? Because I think that resonates with a lot of people.

Phillip: [00:33:45] Yeah, what we've generally found through some of our research and through Advisory Panel work, and by the way, a lot of this was covered, that will be releasing in long-form video, at a symposium that we held at the Museum of Modern Art back in April of 2023. And we had 12 leaders from outside of commerce, very specifically outside of commerce to come and help inform us as to some of these trends. And nostalgia came up over and over again. Nostalgia and its cousin, something called anemoia. Anemoia is a sort of a pet term that's emerged in the last ten years or so that describes having nostalgia for a time you never lived in.

Andrew: [00:34:27] What is the term? Sorry? Anemoia?

Phillip: [00:34:29] Anemoia. And they say that Gen Z feels anemoia more deeply than any generation before it. What we draw a conclusion to is that this feeling of nostalgia, whether it's for a time you lived in like a simpler time or a time before or this anemoia, which is a feeling for a nostalgia for a time you never did inhabit, might be coming from the fact that we believe that there is an acceleration of consumption. There is more to consume now than has ever existed in the world. Not just physical products, but digital media as well. In fact, this can be evidenced by a number of things, including a Microsoft accessibility survey that showed that the average attention span is decreasing every 3 to 5 years. The average TikTok gets a two-second view. And so as we're seeing attention spans and digital immersion grow, we're also seeing a rise in nostalgic content. There's a trend on TikTok called Corecore, which prominently features Mr. Rogers and some of the shows that you mentioned before. Reading Rainbow. Things that have an aesthetic from a simpler time. People that spoke to you in a less excited and bombastic tone. People that were really level-headed in their reasoning and their communication. It stands in stark contrast. It's an antidote. It's like a salve for the moment that we live in right now. It feels very different. And I think that what we're evidencing in the report is that this longing comes out in a bunch of different ways, but it's being seen mostly through additional consumption. Its consumption of old media and its revival of old trends in order to continue to fuel consumption in the present.

Andrew: [00:36:17] I've thought about this more recently. I can't remember if I've talked about it on the show before, but attention spans are dramatically decreasing across the board, I think, for everyone, not just younger generations, but everybody. But to do things, like to build businesses, to do the kind of research and in-depth content and proprietary studies that you do, you have to have a long attention span. You have to. It is table stakes for building meaningful things to be able to focus on something for long extended periods of time and to be able to stick through them and suffer and watch it emerge on the back end. That's the story of almost every business I've ever seen. So I wonder in some senses, if technology is moving faster, and anyone listening to this that's in eCommerce acquisition has gotten harder. The game has changed. We just did a big SEO strategy with my team and Jeff Oxford, which I think will return to the podcast as well. I used to fancy myself a pretty decent SEO and built all of my businesses off the backs of organic traffic. And my skills there have greatly atrophied as I was reminded of with that session. So there are a lot of hard things. But I also wonder, if you are not plugged into TikTok three hours a day and you're able to actually be able to keep that muscle of long-term concentration, it seems like that's going to be a huge competitive advantage for building entrepreneurship and for just life in general. And granted, I say this with the full knowledge that every generation, once they hit about 40, which is where I'm at, it's a time-honored rite of passage to poop all over the generation that comes before it and some of the cultural things of the day.

Phillip: [00:37:49] {laughter} The kids these days. Yeah.

Andrew: [00:37:52] Totally. Right. Yeah. So you can see the wrinkles on my face just like start to, you know, become even more apparent. But I do wonder, I don't know if you've thought about that, but I don't know how that's not going to be the case.

Phillip: [00:38:39] It's interesting. Again, my greatest focus group is my 11 and 12-year-olds who are so curious about the world that I used to live in. It's not the world we live in now. They want to check the mail. They want to go to the newsstand in the grocery store. It's novel for them. To me it's commonplace. But that's not quite the world they live in. So this idea of physical permanence, I think, also harkens back to one of these first trends we talked about, is fueling everything. It also is fueling a new interest in reviving and like a revival of subcultures. So at this moment, we can have every subculture that has ever existed all coexist, which is not how the world worked when you and I were young. When I was younger, I was part of a scene. I was part of a hardcore metal scene that had a wardrobe. We like to be part of the in-group. You sort of had to look a certain way and you dressed a certain way and you listened to a certain type of music.

Andrew: [00:40:39] And you said you were going to give us some of those photos for the show notes, right?

Phillip: [00:40:42] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. {laughter}

Andrew: [00:40:44] At least half a dozen of them. So check that out. It'll be some good, good viewing.

Phillip: [00:40:49] I could dig one up probably of me playing a hardcore show at some point when I was like 16. But you don't have to wait for that physical manifestation anymore. I think that we are trying to re-manifest it in many ways. And again, if we had to just get to the why and dig just a bit deeper, I think it's because we just don't have much in common anymore because everybody is so isolated and so individualized. How can we find more people like us? We have to remanifest monocultures. Brands are capable of doing that. This is where we make it concrete. Only a brand at this moment in time can give us all something that we can agree on, like the blue sky. That this brand exists in the world. It takes up space and it's beloved. And I know other people who have the same feeling about that brand. It can attract people. It can create communities. These can be real differentiators. And in a world where people are becoming, you know, less spiritualized and they're looking for more places and ways to intersect and congregate and find more like-minded people, brands create yet another way to do that. So why not in the future a multiplayer brand where people can have and play a part in what that brand really means? This is community-driven, taken to the max, and that is where the ultimate outcome of this year's Visions report winds up, is that we live in a participatory culture where people don't just want to consume. Maybe now they want to participate. And where does all this consumption lead? Maybe to some, maybe to feeling like you're left out, maybe to feeling a little bit like you're tired. You're left empty at the end of it. What if we could participate? And that is the big so what at the end of this is how do brands become more participatory? How do you have more discourse with your customer? How do you take more insights from them and allow them to co-labor and build with you in creating this thing that you're building with blood, sweat, and tears? Maybe you can shoulder some of that burden with your customers and your community.

Andrew: [00:42:55] How do companies rather get better at branding? And that is a huge open-ended topic. But think about like one of the things that is on my list for this year for eCommerceFuel is to level up the branding that we have. And there're like probably dozens and dozens of facets of that because really a brand is every touchpoint and interaction and a promise that you make and you can splice that up into. I could name 30 things I'd love to improve across the eCommerceFuel brand, but if you had to start thinking through a couple of things, maybe a couple of foundational elements of that or skills or just competencies, anything that you'd throw out there to people. Like for me, for example, I'll selfishly ask as someone who's trying to elevate our brand this year, what were those areas that you really tried to focus on or skill sets you'd try to develop?

Phillip: [00:43:40] Well, this can be like the X factor. I think some have it and some don't. And I think that the real challenge.

Andrew: [00:43:50] "Andrew, you just don't get it. Sorry."

Phillip: [00:43:51] Maybe one person in the org doesn't, but another one could. And I think that's where there is a real conflation between the aesthetics of a logo, fonts, design effectively, and a brand. I've heard it said that brand is the one sentence your customer says about you behind your back. If you were to ask me, I would say, "Well, maybe the eCommerceFuel logo could always use some revision." But the one sentence that people say about you behind your back is so unbelievably consistent from person to person. I opened this whole thing telling you your brand has been tried and it is true. And people associate you with helping them to grow and creating a community that helps foster growth and deeper connections. You have a brand. I think everything else is always subject to change based on the time and what's trendy and what's fashionable at the moment. So let me give you an even better example of this, is that I think that real brands take time. We're in such a hurry. We're in an unbelievable hurry. If you want to have a brand that endures, you have to endure. And so you just have to keep surviving. That is really at the end of it. A brand. A brand? It's something that just was able to persist despite all odds. And maybe that logo changes over time. We'll become nostalgic about the logo when we see a long, storied track record of having persisted despite the odds. So for me, building a brand is like, can you really manufacture that or can you just build a sustainable organization that just keeps persisting no matter what? That is building a brand. Now, whether that has share a voice with a customer or not, I think that just takes time. And we have learned through the last 15 years of near-zero interest rates that capital motives and incentives can try to accelerate that and fail. You can create a recognizable logo, you can create a brand and a name of a product that is synonymous with a certain category. But have you created a brand? No, because you've not endured. So just continue to try to persist. That is my perspective. It's not going to help you design a logo. Sorry. And sorry, I have very strong feelings about that concept in particular. I will say that there are matters of taste and what is acceptable or pleasing to one group of people may not be for another. And I think you kind of have to find that through trial and error over time and you get good at it when you have sampled a lot of things. But generally, if you look at a logo from 30 years ago, you'll say it's out of date, right? Things change and evolve over time. So maybe you should be changing and evolving more often. Maybe your brand refresh needs to happen every two years and you need to be constantly looking at eCommerceFuel and tweaking and nipping and tucking every on a really regimented schedule rather than making a big, you know, push over a long period. A longer period of time.

Andrew: [00:47:16] Yeah. No, those are fascinating thoughts. And thanks for the vote of confidence, Phillip. Appreciate it. A few things to check out. We're kind of running a little bit short on time here, but if you enjoyed this, you're going to absolutely enjoy the podcast that Phillip hosts. Future Commerce podcast. You can get that anywhere you listen to podcasts: on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, or at the website, When is the report being published? We're recording this in June of 2023. It's coming out this month, right?

Phillip: [00:47:48] Yeah, June 15th.

Andrew: [00:47:49] Fantastic. Coming out June 15th. There's also an event I think to help celebrate and kind of launch that out there. And is that an invite-only or can people buy tickets to it? How does that work?

Phillip: [00:47:59] There may be a ticket or two available. Go to We have incredible speakers. We have the Matt Klein, the Head of Global Foresight for Reddit, Jose Cabaco, who is the Head of Storytelling from Adidas. We have one of our podcast co-hosts, Orchid Bertelsen, will be there with us as well as a philosopher, a man named Ruby Thelot and Ashwin, who I mentioned earlier Krishnaswamy, and a whole host of other people that just don't have time to mention here. One thing I'm extremely geeked about is that all of the visuals for this show and some really special things I can't give away just yet, we really lean toward the immersive are being created by the creative director and visual artist behind Lizzo, Maxwell, and the Smashing Pumpkins, a woman who's an incredible artist named Linda Strawberry. Very excited about how hard we go on things like this. Would hope to see you there. June 15th in Chicago.

Andrew: [00:49:03] Sounds like an amazing event. And again, that's And then we mentioned the Archetypes Journal. If you'd like to pick up a copy of that again, 250 beautifully done pages of original content around branding and commerce in an oversize format. That's And then for everything else, report included, and just checking out all the research and the newsletter that they have as well. Phillip, it's amazing what you're doing man.

Phillip: [00:49:33] Thank you.

Andrew: [00:49:34] Yeah, I'm excited to see, I mean just such a wide swath of stuff that you're covering and in a very cool way, like I mentioned at the top. This is not me too content. This is stuff not a lot of people are doing, and it's very, very important stuff. So well done. And I'd love to if you're up for it before we officially sign off, do a quick lightning round to send us off into the sunset of your game.

Phillip: [00:49:55] Let's go.

Andrew: [00:49:56] All right, cool. How would you describe the eCommerce environment? In one to three words right now?

Phillip: [00:50:02] To be determined.

Andrew: [00:50:07] {laughter} What's one of your favorite brands? One of your favorite brands. We won't make you choose your favorite child, but a brand that you really admire with what they've done.

Phillip: [00:50:16] Ugh... Tracksmith speaks to me on a spiritual level as a runner. What Matt has built at Tracksmith, I think, comes genuinely from the heart. I think they can do no wrong. Tracksmith is my answer.

Andrew: [00:50:31] Nice. One of the fondest memories from your childhood.

Phillip: [00:50:35] My mom was a baker and I grew up working in commerce. I would say one of my fondest memories is running the cash register for her at ten, 11 years old, and feeling like I was actually helping her to grow a business and helping her in, you know, realizing a dream. What a privilege

Andrew: [00:50:58] And believe you live in Florida. Is that right?

Phillip: [00:51:00] Yeah, I do. Yeah.

Andrew: [00:51:02] Live in Florida. If you weren't living in Florida, where would you live?

Phillip: [00:51:05] You know, I've really come to fall in love with New York City. It has a magnetic draw. There will be a point in my life where I do spend more time in the city and I have worked there for years and years and years. So I have enough of New York, but I'd love to actually live there and be immersed at some point in my life. But for now, South Florida is wonderful.

Andrew: [00:51:30] The hardest part of your business.

Phillip: [00:51:32] You know, the hardest part right now is not becoming apathetic and continuing to push the envelope. We are probably creative and ambitious to a fault and we are a small team of eight people. But I see us more as artists speaking to a group of people who have so much power in this world that it is worthy of the effort. And it would be super easy to just fall back on the things that get clicks. It's the five tricks to make your landing page convert higher. But I think in the end we're better for continuing to hold ourselves to a higher standard every year. And so far we've done that for four years running. I'm really proud of it.

Andrew: [00:52:14] And the most squirm-worthy question, at least for you, for the whole podcast, probably how much money is enough? Ask everybody. And you can answer this either one of two ways. You can either say I have X amount of money in like liquid net worth, could be cash, could be stocks, but liquid net worth in the bank or in investments or I have a X amount of a guaranteed income for life. Someone's just going to cut me a check every year. So if you make more in the future, that's nice. That's great. But if you didn't, you know, somebody told you right after that, hey, you can't work anymore. This is all the money you get. This is what you need for good life. What would that amount be?

Phillip: [00:52:46] Can I ask you a question before I answer it?

Andrew: [00:52:49] Yeah of course. Go for it.

Phillip: [00:52:49] Is it a cop-out for me to say that I don't think the dollar amount is actually important? I think more money actually is detrimental. What do you want me to say?

Andrew: [00:53:03] Yeah, a little bit of a cop-out. Only because if you had zero, like if you didn't have any net worth, and you're having every day go scrounge for food and like, that would be a rough existence. You couldn't raise kids, you couldn't pursue the work you love. And I think that's why it's interesting. I think you're absolutely right. At some point, the returns diminish greatly. And I think that's why the question is interesting.

Phillip: [00:53:25] I think that what is enough? Personally, I think that it's a shame that in this world you have to make $120,000 in order to have a middle-class life. I think $120,000 is the number. I yearn to be able to do way more for my kids. But the College 529 savings plan that my kid keeps asking me about is, honey, you need to pray 529 times today that Future Commerce works. That's the 529 plan that we have. And I've made way more than that. And I've made way less than that in my lifetime. But I'll tell you, having a lot less has made me way more. That desperation made me way hungrier and made me want to work way harder and made me want to be way more ambitious. I think you get a little more and you're so comfortable that you get a little bit soft. So I don't know if it's a satisfying answer, but it is my answer.

Andrew: [00:54:17] I like it. 120 K.

Phillip: [00:54:20] I want to start something new too?

Andrew: [00:54:21] Yeah, that's true. But that magic genie would maybe prevent it from making any money. Hence the question of what's your max amount.

Phillip: [00:54:30] I do think that this also tips the hand that I don't think I've listened at the end of too many eCommerceFuel podcasts or else I'd know what other people said.

Andrew: [00:54:38] Oh, it's so fascinating. I mean, we've had numbers. I should do a montage sometimes of the answers different people have said, because we've had 500,000 all the way up to a billion, right? Like the whole gamut, you know. So it's yeah, it's really interesting.

Phillip: [00:54:51] Well did I just Price is Right it? Like did I come in with the $1 bid? I feel like it did a little bit.

Andrew: [00:54:55] Yeah. Yeah. It was pretty good. You definitely were on the lower side of the billion mark for sure. {laughter} So how many hours a week do you work?

Phillip: [00:55:05] Oh, 60 at least.

Andrew: [00:55:07] Number one hobby. And you can't say work.

Phillip: [00:55:10] Oh, I'm a musician. I love playing keyboard, guitar... I love creating music. Yeah.

Andrew: [00:55:17] And then finally, who's one of the most interesting people you've met through the eCommerce ecosystem or landscape? So you're incredibly well connected, you know tons of brands and people, but just someone who maybe pops up spur of the moment in your mind. You're like this I really deeply respect this person's work or what they've done.

Phillip: [00:55:35] Oh, it's such a shame it's one person. The first person that came to mind was the former CEO of Trade Coffee, Mike Lackman. I don't think I've ever met anyone who is as well-spoken and has such an incredible recall of history and how the present is informed by the past. A brilliant, brilliant thinker and an amazing operator. Just an amazing person. So it's a shame I can only mention one, but I'll go with Mike.

Andrew: [00:56:04] Yeah. I'm going to go track him down and learn more about him after we hop off here. Phillip, thank you, sir. This was so much fun. Again, if you're listening, make sure to check out the Future Commerce podcast. An amazing listen. Their annual report on everything we've talked about here is out June 15th. So if you're hearing this after that, make sure to go check that out. You can do that at If this is before then and you maybe want to sneak a ticket to their event in June. That's and if you want that beautiful gorgeous book Archetypes that talks about all things branding commerce and entrepreneurship that's Phillip, thank you so much. It's been fantastic getting to know you a little bit better the last month or so and look forward to the time we can hopefully sit down and do this in person and can't wait to make it to one of your events in the future.

Phillip: [00:56:53] Thank you, brother.

Andrew: [00:56:54] Looks like you put on an amazing show and appreciate the work you put out there. You do amazing work.

Phillip: [00:56:57] Thank you. That means a lot.

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