Episode 337
January 30, 2024

Applebee's and the Rise of Boring Memberships

There are some compelling storylines to follow already in 2024, and Phillip and Brian have some hot takes on X creator payments and deepfakes, why “boring” seems to cut through the noise now, and some excitement about Vision PRO. Also, are we to the point now where innovation means working with the algorithm versus working around the algorithm? Listen now for this and more.

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There are some compelling storylines to follow already in 2024, and Phillip and Brian have some hot takes on X creator payments and deepfakes, why “boring” seems to cut through the noise now, and some excitement about Vision PRO. Also, are we to the point now where innovation means working with the algorithm versus working around the algorithm? Listen now for this and more.

A Boring Membership for Everything

Key takeaways:

- Deepfakes are becoming more prevalent, creating opportunities for both entertainment and deception.

- Shop Pay is helping Shopify build a strong moat in e-commerce by offering a seamless payment experience across various platforms.

- Applebee's Date Night Pass may have been sold out quickly, but was a genius marketing move that was an earned PR campaign at-best. Read Phillip’s critique in The Senses.

- Memberships can still be successful, provided they offer real value to customers and are sustainable long-term.

  • {00:10:54} - “If you spend over $4,000 on something unnecessary for your job or to complete anything in your life, it is a purely experiential purchase. This is just the greatest advertising play in the history of advertising. It is the most natural place for high-end brands, luxury brands, brands that are going to sell experiences that are not commodity-based to put experiences in front of people who are prequalified.” - Brian
  • {00:20:34} - “The old methodology of making people pay for things and then gathering stats about how much they're willing to pay for something is a better indication of how much desire or loyalty they had to that thing, as opposed to just a quick peek at it or a quick chuckle.” - Brian
  • {00:26:31} - “It's an interesting sign of the times that deepfakes are such a part of the public discourse. It's only gonna ramp up as we have a political season in a fight. - Phillip
  • {00:31:06} - “Shop Pay is an unbelievable moat and has all of the consumer penetration that everybody in the one-click payment infrastructure wanted.” - Phillip
  • {00:48:56} - “There are crafty ways to put together membership programs that people will wanna buy. But you need to be really careful with them, and don't do things that aren't sustainable like so many membership companies have done in the past. Make things that are smart for your best buyers and make it actually a B2B thing. Your best consumers will appreciate it, and you can reward them and lock them in.” - Brian

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Phillip: [00:00:00] Brian, just say the word caucus.

Brian: [00:00:01] I'm not gonna go caucus.

Phillip: [00:00:03] I need you to just say, Michael Dukakis.

Brian: [00:00:06] Oh my gosh. Is this the cold open?

Phillip: [00:00:09] This is gonna be the cold open. It's funny because I feel like in the era of deep deepfakes, you have to now be conscious of what other words are within certain words so you don't get deepfaked.

Brian: [00:00:19] That's not even deepfake. That's just cut. It's like video editing.

Phillip: [00:00:25] {laughter} It's like a magazine ransom note for the 21st century. I love it. Hello, and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast at the intersection of culture and commerce. I'm Phillip.

Brian: [00:01:49] And I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:01:51] Today, we've got a bevy of content for you. We're gonna talk about storylines for 2024 are gonna continue. We have some updates on deepfakes. Obviously, the commercial, questionable commercial value of those. We've got, everything old is new again, in that, I guess, mattress companies are culturally relevant one more time.

Brian: [00:02:15] Are they though?

Phillip: [00:02:16] Every 10 years, they seem to be. We're gonna talk memberships today. And maybe even touch a little bit on SHEIN IPO. But before we do, you can get ad free episodes of this podcast and all Future Commerce Properties by joining Future Commerce+, get on the membership right now. It pays to be on the membership, Brian. People are jumping in in droves. I think it's 1) to support the show and support the work that we do at Future Commerce. But 2) you can save on merchant print, And you'll need that for the Muses Bundle, which is our newest journal from Future Commerce. Just landed. Right now, you can go get one of the scant few copies of Muses, our annual journal, that are remaining before our reprint. If you wanna get it before the snow thaws, go to MusesJournal.com, and then you can use your special promo code that you get for being a Future Commerce+ member to save 15%. You join Future Commerce+ today, And, you also get in on our After Dark where I'm gonna make Brian say that he and/or someone he knew went to the Washington caucus. I'll get him to say it.

Brian: [00:03:18] Do that. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:03:19] I'll get him say it. Oh, yeah. He'll say it in the After Dark. Subscribe right now. FutureCommerce.com/plus. Okay. When do I talk about the Vision PRO?

Brian: [00:03:29] Can we start with the Vision PRO? Let's start with the Vision PRO. Let's just kick it off with the Vision PRO. You could not be more excited about the Vision Pro. And why is that, Phillip?

Phillip: [00:03:41] Some $4,200 lighter. I feel like a weight just lifted off of me, and it was $4,200. Not even a Ridge Wallet could hold that much money.

Brian: [00:03:54] That's off your digital Ridge Wallet.

Phillip: [00:03:57] Oh my gosh. I thought so, apparently, depending on who you talk to...

Brian: [00:04:04] You just gave them an organic mention, by the way.

Phillip: [00:04:06] Why? I know. God.

Brian: [00:04:08] There you go, Sean.

Phillip: [00:04:09] Love you, Sean. One of our... It depends on who you are. Is your take, Brian, That the Vision Pro was a successful launch or an unsuccessful launch or TBD?

Brian: [00:04:23] TBD. That's my viewpoint.

Phillip: [00:04:25] Really?

Brian: [00:04:25] Yeah. Yeah. Because it's not really launched yet, in my opinion. The court of public opinion is still yet to come. We have pundits. Pundits can say lots of crazy things.

Phillip: [00:04:39] Pundits love to say the things.

Brian: [00:04:41] They love to say the things, especially when it comes to new technology. So let's see what the people have to say about it. But the thing is it's actually not going to be the people, I don't think. So it actually... This may have been a product literally built for pundits. So there are enough pundits out there now when you could have a market of just pundits, and it could be a successful market. This is the world we live in now.

Phillip: [00:05:18] It's true.

Brian: [00:05:19] If you have a high enough priced item, you can build an entire market off of just pundits.

Phillip: [00:05:27] Well, the thing that I think so perfectly encapsulates the news cycle that we're in around the Vision PRO and whether or not it'll be a successful device was the very weird media cycle that followed the day after, where people resurfaced both as, and this is so funny because it depends on your perspective and how you read a particular item of news. For instance, they brought about this story that a tech journalist, John Markoff, wrote in 2007, January 9, 2007. John Markoff wrote this headline, "Apple Hoping for Another iPad Introduces Innovative Cell Phone." And then someone else shared a very similar story from 10 years prior that was, like, "Apple Hoping for another iMac Introduces Less Than Innovative Music Player." And you could probably, I think we'd cited the statistics sometime prior that AirPods alone as a product, rivals the GDP of many European countries. So it's like the scale of Apple's business is unbelievable, and supposedly, they moved something to the tune of almost 400,000 units since the launch.

Brian: [00:06:58] Think about this.

Phillip: [00:07:00] Of the Vision PRO, I should say. Yeah.

Brian: [00:07:03] This is Apple's whole MO. It's like take tech that people have a hard time figuring out how to get adoption on and then do it in a way that they will adopt.

Phillip: [00:07:14] This is what they do.

Brian: [00:07:14] There's been a lot of headsets out there, a lot of headsets, people feeling like they weren't something that was gonna take off. No one's gonna put this thing on their face for too long, blah blah blah. Did the same thing with music players and with cell phones and with ear pods? Or Bluetooth headsets. Do you remember how profoundly bad most of those experiences were Apple touched them?

Phillip: [00:07:44] I mean, Bluetooth headsets being the greatest example there because people were like, "They're taking away the cord? Who's gonna ever do that? Oh, you're gonna lose those devices," and somehow Apple's always great... In fact, by the way, I think the AirPod and touch gestures was one of the original products that we covered on the early launch of Future Commerce as a podcast. And so we've been through this cycle before of people pooh-poohing a particular product. You're right. This is what they do. I do think that there is a built-in... People love to try it. They want Apple to fail. They just want it so badly. People they just want... And especially in a category where so many have tried before. Sony has made VR sets for PlayStation. HTC has made VR Headsets for a decade. Oculus now.

Brian: [00:08:48] Meta.

Phillip: [00:08:49] Meta is deep in on headsets. They're just hoping that this is yet another area where there's a failure, and they are citing a couple of things that are undeniable. You know, YouTube and other companies are not launching direct apps in an App Store at launch, but I don't know that that's necessarily the point. I think the web becomes more immersive from here, and I mentioned this in our predictions episode. I'm kind of thinking that we're entering... I want your take on this. I want your feedback here, Brian. I think that we're gonna go through another skeuomorphism cycle.

Brian: [00:09:29] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:09:30] Except the skeuomorphism isn't we're aping the real world in a digital space for adoption. It's that we're aping the Web as a 2.5D. The web will be our bridge.

Brian: [00:09:44] Right. 2D Web becomes the natural...

Phillip: [00:09:47] The skeuomorphism for the next generation for spatial computing.

Brian: [00:09:48] The next thing. Right. Oh, it's a browser.

Phillip: [00:09:52] Oh, it's just a browser, but then what happens when you can reach into the browser? Shopify and its work with Nerfs and Polycam and sort of being able to create these 3D from 2D images to create 3D product visualization. One day...

Brian: [00:10:08] Yeah. It's like type will mean something completely different. Right?

Phillip: [00:10:13] Correct.

Brian: [00:10:13] Yeah. The word type is gonna be reused to mean something totally... It's very, very astute. I also think that here's where I think this has a chance to really succeed, and Apple's a genius for creating this system. If you've got 200,000 people who bought this... Is that right? You said 200,000?

Phillip: [00:10:36] I saw the number 400,000. I'll check.

Brian: [00:10:39] Sorry. 400,000 people that spent $4,000 plus on something? That is the biggest qualifier for someone to market to. [00:10:54] If you're spending over $4,000 on something that is not necessary for your job or to complete anything in your life, it is a purely experiential purchase. [00:11:07]

Phillip: [00:11:07] You're not making me feel better, by the way, Brian, but carry on. Yep.

Brian: [00:11:11]  [00:11:13]This is just the greatest advertising play in the history of advertising. It is the most natural place for high-end brands, luxury brands, brands that are gonna sell experiences that are not commodity-based to put experiences in front of people who are prequalified. [00:11:36] This is the biggest prequalifier in tech history.

Phillip: [00:11:41] Can I issue a quick correction?

Brian: [00:11:44] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:11:44] They've sold about 200,000 to date as of the time of this recording.

Brian: [00:11:49] 200,000. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:11:49] And the number that was cited as a benchmark internally was to sell 400,000, but no one knows But the time frame was for that, and that 200,000 is over a 5 day weekend from Friday to Monday.

Brian: [00:12:02] Wild. So it's not only are they prequalified to have disposable income for experience-driven activations, or products, or whatever experiences, they are also bleeding edge tech people. So this is the second qualifier. It's a double qualifier for advertisers. I just can't help but think that the point of building products now is to gather data on what else people are gonna purchase.

Phillip: [00:12:36] That's true. And that's where we're in this sort of meta content rabbit hole, and we'll dig ourselves out here. I am just excited personally...

Brian: [00:12:45] Meta is a whole different thing, Phillip.

Phillip: [00:12:47] {laughter} I'm just excited to create content about this. I wanna be at the Beginning of it because I wasn't at the beginning with the iPhone. I was on a different platform, and I think we had said...

Brian: [00:13:00] You're still on a different platform.

Phillip: [00:13:01] I'm still on different platforrm.

Brian: [00:13:02] Screw you, Apple.

Phillip: [00:13:03] I've never owned an iPhone, although I've had probably 5 iPads in my family in my life. I've had maybe 10 Macs or MacBooks

Brian: [00:13:13] Yep.

Phillip: [00:13:13] In my life. I've got four Apple TVs, I think, between the office and home. I pay Apple a pretty penny for things like Apple TV+ and News and Apple 1 or Apple Care. I'm deep in. Never owned a phone. Really excited to kinda get the first look at this and be among that set. And if that makes me cringe, so be it.

Brian: [00:13:40] I mean...

Phillip: [00:13:41] I don't know. I'm excited about it.

Brian: [00:13:42] I'm excited. I'm excited to to vicariously enjoy the Vision PRO through you, Phillip? This is exciting.

Phillip: [00:13:50] I might be the first person to meta glasses record the inside of a Vision's Pro. {laughter}

Brian: [00:13:57] Are you gonna have your glasses on and then put on the Vision Pro on top of your glasses?

Phillip: [00:14:03] So let me tell you the 4,000 plus dollars that I spent. I bought the headset. I got a 512 gig model.

Brian: [00:14:10] Nice.

Phillip: [00:14:11] I bought the carrying case. I bought the auxiliary battery, and I bought the ZEISS lenses because I do need glasses now.

Brian: [00:14:21] Good choices.

Phillip: [00:14:22] So I got prescription lenses. I got the whole thing, and I'm going in person because I'm so stupid. I am going in person. I have an appointment 7 PM on February 2nd, so I'm gonna brave the crowds for the fitting and for the in-store demo. I want to be in the thick of it.

Brian: [00:14:45] Oh, this means you're gonna have them ready for your talk at EEE, triple E.

Phillip: [00:14:51] I might walk on the stage at triple E wearing a Vision PRO. I don't know.

Deepfake Clip 1: [00:14:55] We'll see how cringe.

Brian: [00:14:55] That would be pretty cool.

Phillip: [00:14:59] This is the cringiest I'll ever be, but I'm just gonna lean into it a little bit.

Brian: [00:15:55] You know, there's a time and a place to lean in on cringey things, actually. As I've seen a few founders sort of say recently, "Your job as CEO is to be the cringe."

Phillip: [00:16:08] Well, mission accomplished for me. Well, yeah. So we'll keep you apprised of that. One of our big story lines for the year, obviously, is spatial computing and spatial commerce. I'm really excited to see how that shapes up, and maybe there's something that we can activate there in the Future Commerce world to kinda trial it for ourselves. We do have Vision PRO. We have Visions, plural, as a property of Future Commerce. So I expect that I'll find some way to cross pollinate those.

Brian: [00:16:37] Visions PRO.

Phillip: [00:16:39] It's a little too close for comfort. Here's an interesting... Let's shift gears, Brian. There is a story, another storyline for the year is the broad application of deepfakes in a interesting way. And we'd covered some of this already.

Brian: [00:16:53] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Good good stuff. This is a good one to get into. I agree. There have been some crazy deep fakes already this year.

Phillip: [00:17:02] And it was following, I think, one of the more high profile deepfakes that went around, I wanna say in October/November last year, we wrote about on The Senses. I wrote an essay about Mr Beast being deepfaked and why so many people fell for it, and it was because it was not out of character for him to be using an interesting means to give away money. What I think is really interesting is that you had this deepfake of of Jimmy going around at the time saying, "You've won $1,000 for me."

Brian: [00:17:36] That's tricky. That's a tricky one because the I mean...

Phillip: [00:17:40] You might have actually won the money.

Brian: [00:17:42] It has kind of scammer level sort of feel to it to begin with.

Phillip: [00:17:47] For sure. And that's where, I think a lot of people fell for that. Then he had to come out and say, "No. No. No. That's not me." Within the last week, he's been experimenting on X. And so remember, Elon announced that there'd be creator payments on the platform. So the more attention that you draw on X, formerly Twitter, the more you stand to get paid for the advertising revenue or share of the advertising revenue that happens on that platform, a la the same kind of thing that happens on YouTube. How do you think that's going, Brian?

Brian: [00:18:23] I don't think...

Phillip: [00:18:24] What does that lead to?

Brian: [00:18:26] It leads to all kinds of wild attention-getting activity.

Phillip: [00:18:31] Yeah. You're right.

Brian: [00:18:33] It does. Yeah. You know what's really interesting? I've been thinking about this a little bit lately, and this is not an original point, but I've been kind of thinking about it more and more. It's sad how people get paid these days because it spurs the most wild behavior. Outliers win, but the problem with this is attention feels free to most people. They're gonna spend their attention on something, so when they have time to give attention, they're gonna give attention to something, but attention does not necessarily breed loyalty. So if you're rewarding someone with your eyeballs or your clicks or your opens or whatever it is, and they're getting paid by advertisers or by platforms for those those eyeballs or attention, that doesn't mean what you've done is good. It just means you've turned someone's attention for a minute.

Phillip: [00:19:33] Yup.

Brian: [00:19:34] But if you decide to throw up a gate against that content, and all of a sudden try to make someone pay for that content, they may or may not have the loyalty to say, "Oh, yeah. That's worth of my own money," even though attention is money.

Phillip: [00:19:56] Well, attention is money, and I think also when things start getting attention, it directs money in situ, like, during the attention-getting.

Brian: [00:20:06] Personal money. Right.

Phillip: [00:20:08] I see. Yeah. Yeah.

Brian: [00:20:09] So you create better quality things and have a better idea of how things are actually performing in people's minds because that's where the real performance happens. It's actually in people's brains and their emotions.

Phillip: [00:20:27] The real performance is inside of you. {laughter}

Brian: [00:20:30] The real performance is inside of you. That's right. And so [00:20:34] the old methodology of making people pay for things and then gathering stats about how much they're willing to pay for something is a better indication of how much desire or loyalty they had to that thing, as opposed to just a quick peek at it or a quick chuckle. [00:20:57]

Phillip: [00:21:00] Well, here's a quick chuckle. You know, on this subject of Mr Beast and sort of attention harvesting, in addition to being on YouTube, he's now syndicating his Content to X as a test. And remember, the creator payments on X are meant to share the advertising revenue. I don't know what all advertisers are on X anymore. I will tell you, most of the ads I see are for sex toys on Twitter.

Brian: [00:21:32] Does that have to do with your browsing history, Phillip? {laughter}

Phillip: [00:21:34] No. It has everything to do with the fact that Elon said to Bob Iger to go F yourself. I think the traditional advertiser that supposedly Linda Yaccarino would have been courting to create better advertising agreements on X is afraid of Elon and is afraid of Twitter, but [00:21:53] there are people that are advertising in dollars that are going to X. And you know what helps? When you ink, no matter what you might think of them, when you get creators that do drive attention, advertisers will follow suit. [00:22:06] And in the last 90 days, we have Tucker Carlson, Don Lemon, and now Mr Beast are all creators that are on X and advertising dollars have to follow suit. Here's exhibit A as to the amount and scale of opportunity that exists for YouTubers right now to cross post on X. Mr Beast just reported that his first X video made over $250,000 on a 160,000,000 views. So a 160,000,000 views for his video that he already posted on YouTube and made money on, he's now has an extra $250,000. You know what he's decided to do with it? He's turning that into more attention and that he is going to give away the $250,000 that he made on X to 10 random people if they follow him and retweet this tweet. In Less than 24 hours, it has over 3,000,000 retweets.

Brian: [00:23:05] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:23:06] Now that is an attention aggregator on its own because that particular post, not even a video, that particular post will probably have similar numbers for creator payments at the end of the creator payout schedule.

Brian: [00:23:21] Quadrupled up on that.

Phillip: [00:23:23] That's correct.

Brian: [00:23:24] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:23:25] It's unbelievable. Whatever he did, he's gonna just continue to garner attention there.

Brian: [00:23:31] This is Mr Beast's whole business model, though, isn't it? Every time he does something, he takes all the money he made on that thing and just puts it into the very next thing because every time he does something, he comes out on top. It's highly risky, but it pays off because he's got such an incentive model and such a participatory model that even a talentless star can make their rise to the top.

Phillip: [00:23:58] Speaking of a talentless star, and deepfakes, this is an interesting deepfake that just came through and made the news.

Brian: [00:24:05] Are we talking about fighting or Jennifer Aniston? I could see this going either way.

Phillip: [00:24:09] I'm going to play both of them back to back. There's this one.

Deepfake Clip 1: [00:24:13] You know the value of voting democratic when our votes count. It's important that you save your vote for the November election. We'll need your help in electing Democrats up and down the ticket. Voting this Tuesday only enables the Republicans in their quest to elect Donald Trump again. You're vote makes...

Phillip: [00:24:31] So this is a recording.

Brian: [00:24:33] Just to make sure everyone's clear, that is a deepfake. Just clarifying for our audience.

Phillip: [00:24:38] Here's the problem. This is the problem and something that I think comes back to this conversation. This being above reproach was how I framed it for Mr Beast. You know, I was in Bible college, and they used to hammer this into us as if you are of a certain type of moral character, then any accusation leveled against you would be fundamentally deniable because it would be so outside of the bounds of your moral character. So being above reproach is being a person who would never ever be the kind of person to run a scam on Twitter means it's easily identifiable. Here's the problem. I think Biden actually talks like that. He's easily deepfaked. {laughter} Maybe to future proof yourself, maybe the new model of that is you have to be way more animated and completely unpredictable in the way that you talk.

Brian: [00:25:41] But that's even, that might be... Actually the more if your voice is, the easier it will be to deepfake because it's all outlier material.

Phillip: [00:25:50] It sounds like him because I think that's what he sounds like. Here's another one. This one's so much funnier, by the way. Another scam that was going around a deepfake, recently.

Deepfake Clip 2: [00:26:01] If you're watching this video, you're one of the 10,000 lucky people who will get MacBook Pro for just $10. Jennifer Aniston here, and I'm doing the world's largest MacBook giveaway. Just go to my site below and claim yours now.

Phillip: [00:26:13] {laughter}

Brian: [00:26:14] Man, Jennifer Aniston is going the Mr Beast route.

Phillip: [00:26:17] The trap music in the background is is really doing it for me. It's absolutely sending me.

Brian: [00:26:22] You know, everyone's gotta copy the winners, and the winner right now is Mr Beast, so I guess this is not that far off. Right? {laughter}

Phillip: [00:26:30] I guess not. I think [00:26:31] it's an interesting sign of the times that deepfakes are such a part of the public discourse. It's only gonna ramp up as we have a political season in a fight. [00:26:41] Brian, a caucus even. Right?

Brian: [00:26:46] You're actually just saving things up for me and Chris to go get after here?

Phillip: [00:26:52] To clean up?

Brian: [00:26:54] I'm gonna DM Chris here on the side.

Phillip: [00:26:58] Chris, our Producer. He can make cuts to everything? Alright.

Brian: [00:27:01] Supercuts. There's gonna be a supercut of Phillip coming up here.

Phillip: [00:27:06] Super pack of caucus cuts coming your way. Alright. Of the list of stories, Brian, what are some others you wanna cover here?

Brian: [00:27:15] Well, you know, there is the Shop Pay on Everlane thing that just happened. That's interesting. It's interesting to me. Shop has been pretty protective of their payments tool, but it's also been thing that they made a lot of money on. And they're just ripping a page out of Amazon's book here with Amazon Pay and Shop with Prime, and they're going off to other sites that are not on Shopify, and they're allowing those retailers to use Shop Pay as one of their payment tools. This is a smart move in my opinion because it's a gateway drug to Shopify, and also it's just incremental revenue for Shopify. And there's a lot of different types of merchants out there that probably aren't necessarily an immediate opportunity for Shopify, but they're an immediate opportunity for Shop Pay. So in my book on their part, also kinda boring because this has been done multiple times. It's kind of a no brainer, and I don't even know why I'm talking about it. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:28:29] It fulfills the prophecy. The one click payments will be pervasive throughout the Web.

Brian: [00:28:38] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:28:39] It just didn't happen the way that everybody wanted it to.

Brian: [00:28:41] Yeah. It's true.

Phillip: [00:28:42] That was fast, actually.

Brian: [00:28:45] It wasn't that fast, though.

Phillip: [00:28:47] I didn't think it would happen so quickly. It was fast.

Brian: [00:28:49] It was slow.

Phillip: [00:28:51] Yeah. It was like a bolt just hit the industry all at once.

Brian: [00:28:54] Oh my gosh. Maybe they can rally and then pull it together and compare.

Phillip: [00:28:58] They could probably rally, the troops. If you have a bet and you need to settle the bet, you could settle it. You could settle the bet.

Brian: [00:29:07] We could settle the bet.

Phillip: [00:29:08] By paying your pals. You could PayPal.

Brian: [00:30:17] Let's ramp down from this because...

Phillip: [00:30:21] Divvy up the winnings amongst everybody.

Brian: [00:30:24] I think we should just split it. Split it up. {laughter} If you can work in Klarna, you win.

Phillip: [00:30:34] I Klarna believe all of this. Alright.

Brian: [00:30:39] {laughter} Game over.

Phillip: [00:30:41] Oh my gosh. Oh.

Brian: [00:30:43] Alright. Enough of that.

Phillip: [00:30:44] Well...

Brian: [00:30:45] Moving on to boring things like mattresses.

Phillip: [00:30:48] Yeah. Can I say one more? Well, boring things, I mean, Everlane's pretty boring?

Brian: [00:30:53] Yes.

Phillip: [00:30:54] That's another way to say it. I do think Shopify continues to build its moat. What is its moat? I think Shop Pay.

Brian: [00:31:05] Payments.

Phillip: [00:31:06]  [00:31:06]Shop Pay is an unbelievable moat and has all of the consumer penetration that everybody in the one click payment infrastructure wanted. [00:31:12]

Brian: [00:31:13] A good experience.

Phillip: [00:31:14] Yes. And the rewards on it are for real. It is an offer platform. I got a push notification the other day from Shop Pay saying that one of the shops that I've bought from just boosted, which I had no idea is even a thing you can do, but they boosted Shop Cash. So if I use Shop Cash in their store, it's worth three times as much. So any earnings...

Brian: [00:31:40] Surge rewards.

Phillip: [00:31:43] Yeah. Yeah. It's like surge pricing, but boosting your your Shop Cash multiplier. It is a gamification of its own sort, and it is its own panel for activation. It's really, really interesting. And I think Shop Pay allows the the older, more tech encumbered legacy tech brands to have access to this as a channel. It is channel expansion. It's genius.

Brian: [00:32:10] Gateway drug too.

Phillip: [00:32:12] The moat just gets wider.

Brian: [00:32:13] People are gonna be like, "Wow. Shopify is great and so easy to work with. Why aren't we using this platform?"

Phillip: [00:32:21] "Why wouldn't we?" Yeah. Something to think about there. The mattress thing, can you set this up? Do you know anything about this actually? The boring dot?

Brian: [00:32:30] No. I mean, I all I know is that the Tuft and Needle guys got out of Tuft and Needle and then went and started another mattress company called The Boring Mattress Company, which is really boring to me, actually. We've seen a lot of headsets out there, and Apple decides to go out and, you know, fix the headset and then make it something that we all want. Do you really need another mattress company? Are mattress is so broken that we need another mattress company.

Phillip: [00:33:06] Well, I love the... There is a weird kind of an honesty in their landing page. It says, "Escape mattress hell. Get a dependable mattress without the over exaggerated features or empty promises. Get a boring mattress. $499. Free shipping."

Brian: [00:33:31] You're kinda compelled right now. You're kinda like, "I'm kinda in right now."

Phillip: [00:33:35] But when has my mattress let me down?

Brian: [00:33:37] Right. That's what I'm saying. That's my point.

Phillip: [00:33:42] When have I been let down... Actually, Brian, you famously went through like five mattresses.

Brian: [00:33:45] Oh, I burn through them. I do. I did. I did. I went through all the DTC mattresses because I wanted to find one. And I ended up where I started from, which was basically The Boring Mattress Company before The Boring Mattress Company existed, it was called Zinus. And that's basically The Boring Mattress Company by a different name.

Phillip: [00:34:08] They're living up to their name here, though, boring being the appropriate word. This is the most Shopify ass template I've ever seen in my life. It is so Day 0, here's your template. They didn't even update.

Brian: [00:34:29] I love this. We give up on differentiation.

Phillip: [00:34:32] Oh, yeah.

Brian: [00:34:33] This is it. I kinda love that. Like, differentiation's dead. Just buy on price.

Phillip: [00:34:39] Three links: Shop, About, Contact. That's it. They spent a ton of money, though, on boring.co.

Brian: [00:34:47] Oh, they had to steal it from Elon. I'm sure Elon held it.

Phillip: [00:34:51] Elon punching the air right now. "Why didn't I launch a mattress?" Packie McCormick punching the air right now, and he's like, "why didn't I launch a mattress?" Like, all everyone who's brand around boring.

Brian: [00:35:05] Elon should do a team up with them, for real, and he should take his flamethrower and try to burn their fireproof mattress because all mattresses have to be fireproof. Right?

Phillip: [00:35:18] I do love that Corbin... I don't know Corbin. Shout out, Corbin. Here's your earned media. Put this in your deck. I hope your PR people are paying attention.

Brian: [00:35:27] Hey. This is actually earned media because you didn't beg for it. Well done.

Phillip: [00:35:31] Yeah. For sure. For sure. Corbin L. I don't know what Corbin's last name is. One of the Co-Founders of Boring Mattress Co. Corbin described as an ethical hacker who has a fresh outsider perspective. He's here to shape things up and redefine mattress shopping. Is he gonna airdrop me mattresses? What ethical hacking needs to happen in a boring mattress company. I thought I was just getting a mattress, but I'm gonna be ethically hacked. I'm excited.

Brian: [00:36:00] This does lead me to another random thought that I've had recently, which is about innovation in general. And I think that starting another mattress company kinda falls into this. Are we to the point now where innovation means working with the algorithm versus working around the algorithm? Because I remember back in the day, the whole thing when you were in SEO or whatever, you were in working on the Web, when you're building an eCom site, was always like, "How do I gamify the algorithm get around it? We gotta find a way around the algorithm." And now most SEO is like, "How do we game the rules of the algorithm?" It's not "I'll go outside the algorithm and find a way to beat it through rules or loopholes." Now it's like, "Okay. Well, we have to follow the algorithm." And this is like innovation goes to die here. Or does it? Or does it?

Phillip: [00:37:03] I have a way to break through the noise. Are you ready?

Brian: [00:37:05] I'm ready.

Deepfake Clip 2: [00:37:06] You're watching this video. You're one of the 10,000 lucky people who will get MacBook Pro for just $10. Jennifer Aniston here, and I'm doing the world's largest...

Phillip: [00:37:14] You need a celebrity. You need a giveaway. You need a fire trap tune from royaltyfreesounds.com. That's what you need. The key to success.

Brian: [00:37:27] So, basically, Mr Beast. Mr Beast wins.

Phillip: [00:37:32] Gaming the algorithm is really just can you attract the most attention in the shortest amount of time. Here's what's telling about the way that people see the algorithm though.

Brian: [00:37:43] "Ethical hacker"

Phillip: [00:37:44] When you go on Twitter and you see these people that are, you know, like influencers talking about, "Oh, the Tuft and Needle folks just announced...oh, they just announced a new venture..." They're not posting a link because the link will be deprioritized by the algorithm. They're screenshotting the very boring website. That's what they're doing. And when you go to LinkedIn and there's discourse about this, they're not putting a link, they're waiting 2 and a half, 3 hours, and then they're posting a comment with the link. Everybody still has to play with the algorithm.

Brian: [00:38:20] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:38:21] I think part of the sell here is it's the counterculture of the norm where it was feature laden, technology driven, 8 Sleep being dominant in the space right now. What kind of technology and quantified self can we layer into your mattress? No. No. No. No. We're the opposite. Pendulum is swinging back, baby. We're boring. That cuts through. We're boring.

Brian: [00:38:48] Boring cuts through. Boring is the way through the algorithm.

Phillip: [00:38:52] Yeah. Seems like it. Do you know what's really boring?

Brian: [00:38:57] Tell me.

Phillip: [00:38:58] Memberships. Memberships are freaking boring.

Brian: [00:39:02] So many. I know. There's the new one. There's the one that sold out in an instant. It was a scam, they say. Because they're saying it was a scam.

Phillip: [00:39:12] You think Applebee's Date Night Pass is a scam?

Brian: [00:39:17] No. I mean, people were like, "Oh, there were probably only, like, 5 of them available it sold out 2 seconds."

Phillip: [00:39:23] Yeah, one minute. Sold out in one minute. I can't wait for them to pop up on Ticketmaster or on StubHub.

Brian: [00:39:28] Yeah. As a resell product. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:39:33] So for those not in the know, Applebee's announced the Date Night Pass. The Date Night Pass was a one time sale of a membership, a $200 per year cost that would give you access to up to 52 uses. So one date night a week, where you would get up to $30 of a discount of food and non alcohol alcoholic beverages, and it can't be used more than once in a 24 hour period. And it would be valid from February to January '24 to '25.

Brian: [00:40:08] This is up to basically just over $1500 worth of food and non alcoholic beverages.

Phillip: [00:40:14] $1500 of value, a lifetime of memories. The memories of the gastrointestinal distress, memories of the morbid obesity, memories of the doctor-prescribed statins that would soon follow. So many memories, Brian, for a low, low price of $200.

Brian: [00:40:36] The thing about this is this is my really boring take on this is that this is B2B thinking applied to consumer. This this kind of offer, this kind of membership, and membership in general is something that's been way more explored in the world of B2B. This is annual contract value. Someone signing up for a year. Yes. I will spend $30 worth of at Applebee's. Okay. Well, we'll give you a 75% discount on that or more. Whatever it is.

Phillip: [00:41:21] But, Brian, nobody's asking for this. This is the most brilliant marketing... It's a marketing vehicle because it's the kind of thing that people can make fun of and also participate in.

Brian: [00:41:34] Right. It's a win both ways. It's not really annual contract. However, I bet you if... I wonder if they'll introduce a less discounted version of this, if it's gonna sell out in one minute, maybe this is like a trial run to see how people feel about doing something like this in general. But, yeah, it feels like a marketing stunt, and that's what everyone's saying right now is that there were so few of them available. Clearly, they're gonna lose money on it, and they know it. So, yeah, that means it's a marketing effort, not actually a real promotion.

Phillip: [00:42:07] Right. I'm trying to find where I mentioned it first on the Future Commerce podcast. There was a post in November of 2022. Very proud of the subject line of this email called "The Wiener Wars Stiffen. I can write a lead, Brian?

Brian: [00:42:34] You can. You're good at least. There's no question.

Phillip: [00:42:38] The Subtitle was talking about Panera's unlimited sip club, and it sort of coincided with their actual cost savings of moving drink self-service behind the counter in some stores. So they were sort of with one hand giveth, one hand taketh away. I did write this alliteration. You'll really appreciate this. Panera Pilferers Ponder Position of Pepsi Pumps.

Brian: [00:43:13] That's very good. I like that one.

Phillip: [00:43:15] Thank you very much.

Brian: [00:43:15] I love a good alliteration.

Phillip: [00:43:18] Since 2022 when we wrote this about the unlimited sip club in the limited small test, they then rolled out the unlimited sip club membership To Amex Rewards, and then they rolled that out nationwide. And now almost anybody, you could go in and spend $7, $8 a month and have unlimited sips. And that includes all their drinks. That's the iced coffee. It's hot coffee. It's tea, and they're charged lemonade, which contributed supposedly to the death of at least one individual, for their caffeinated lemonade. But Panera did it first. The thing is is it has actual utility. I don't believe that Applebee's has actual utility, and that's why this particular move is not actually a sign, I think, of things to come of more brands, more food moving to an unlimited model. I think this is a marketing ploy because everybody knows that Applebee's is a punchline.

Brian: [00:44:17] Yeah. I think you're probably right. Actually, I don't think everyone knows that. I'm not sure that everybody does that.

Phillip: [00:44:22] Really?

Brian: [00:44:22] Yeah. I think that there are people who still love Applebees.

Phillip: [00:44:26] Peoplee call it Crapplebees.

Brian: [00:44:27] They do. They do, but they also call McDonald's Sick Donald's and they eat McDonald's all the time. Just because something is knowingly not the best doesn't mean that people don't appreciate it as like a regular habit in their lives. I don't think it's a punch line for all of America.

Phillip: [00:44:50] Okay. Alright. Maybe.

Brian: [00:44:56] I am confident of this, actually.

Phillip: [00:44:59] Okay. Do you think there are people who relish their relationship with Applebee's?

Brian: [00:45:02] Yes, I do.

Phillip: [00:45:03] Okay. Wow.

Brian: [00:45:05] Not saying I'm one of those people. I have not been to an Applebee's in probably 10 plus years, and I don't plan to go to one in another 10 years. No. But it's got a spinach artichoke dip on its menu. I can't even... Can't go.

Phillip: [00:45:22] This is Brian's barometer. If they have spin art on the menu, I don't eat there.

Brian: [00:45:31] Peace. I walk in and look at the menu and spin art's on there, I'm out. I leave. I actually walk out.

Phillip: [00:45:39] This is the kind of thing... If I was thinking about memberships that I have that I'm like, why I even have this, I don't know. This would be a thing I would never tell anyone about even if I had an Applebee's membership.

Brian: [00:45:54] Don't you have something almost as cringe?

Phillip: [00:45:57] Yeah. I have a Fabletics membership. {laughter}

Brian: [00:46:02] {laughter}

Phillip: [00:46:02] Hey. They had a really great campaign with Lizzo for a little while. Okay?

Brian: [00:46:07] Yeah. Great leggings.

Phillip: [00:46:10] When you have a $70 pair of pants that cost $20 if you get the membership, and then you wake up a year later like, "Oh, that's how they getcha." {laughter} And then you get a notice that all these membership credits are all gonna expire, and then you have to quickly find Christmas gifts with all of those credits. Then your name might be Phillip.

Brian: [00:46:33] You know actually, Starbucks even experimented with this many years ago. They had a mug you can buy in December, and it was unlimited coffee.

Phillip: [00:46:46] I'm guessing it was pre pandemic.

Brian: [00:46:48] It was very, it might even be, like, 7 to 10 years ago at this point. It might be even older. And I remember buying it being like, "Oh my gosh. I'm gonna drink so much coffee." It might have been when I was in college. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:47:02] There was another, what I'm guessing is just for the media, membership that came out some time ago. Last year, Southwest Airlines did a onesie. Was it Southwest Airlines?

Brian: [00:47:15] Frontier.

Phillip: [00:47:17] Oh Frontier.

Brian: [00:47:17] They've done it multiple times now, the all you can eat flights. We actually talked about that on the podcast. You know what it really comes down to? It's the buffet of life.

Phillip: [00:47:32] Oh, yeah. It's the Golden Corral of vacation of everything.

Brian: [00:47:35] Of everything. All you can do just lots of crappy stuff forever, and you can have unlimited crappy stuff.

Phillip: [00:47:43] Dude, actually, this is the strategy. Is your brand in the same cohort of customers as the Applebee's, Fabletics, Panera Sip Club, Frontier Flyer? And if so, maybe a membership is right for you. Could be.

Brian: [00:48:01] All you can eat membership. So here's my take. I do think there's still a place for memberships.

Phillip: [00:48:07] Fabletics is an unfair comparison in that cohort. But yeah.

Brian: [00:48:09] I actually don't know if that's true. {laughter} But my take is that membership still has legs. I think that there are smart membership programs out there.

Phillip: [00:48:23] The Fabletics membership in particular has legs. Yeah. There are smart ones.

Brian: [00:48:28] Leggings for days.

Phillip: [00:48:32] Oh jeez. My daughter just scared the crap out of me. She's, like, standing right next to me. Let's keep that in the podcast. Hi. Yes. I'll be right there.

Brian: [00:48:39] It's dinner time.

Phillip: [00:48:42] It is dinner time. {laughter}

Brian: [00:48:44] "Dad, quit talking to Brian on the phone."

Phillip: [00:48:47] "You're making leggings jokes, dad. It's Super cringe. We can hear you in the other room."

Brian: [00:48:52] No. I'm pro... I'm still bullish on membership because I actually think [00:48:56] there are crafty ways to put together membership programs that people will wanna buy. But you need to be really careful with them, and don't do things that aren't sustainable like so many membership companies have done in the past. Make things that are smart for your best buyers and make it actually a B2B thing. Your best consumers will appreciate it, and you can reward them and lock them in. [00:49:21] There are lots of ways to to win there. I'm pro membership offerings.

Phillip: [00:49:29] Do you have a membership, Brian? What memberships do you have?

Brian: [00:49:36] That's a good question.

Phillip: [00:49:37] I could actually, in January, I could give you a list of ones that I have. I love my Equinox membership, not the physical one, the digital one, because I have a Soul Cycle at home, and they have the yoga and stretching and cardio classes, guided runs, actually. So that's a pretty cool one. I have that. It's probably overpriced. I can have Apple's workout, Apple Fit or whatever, that would be way cheaper and part of Apple One. I should probably just switch to that. Do you have anything else?

Brian: [00:50:15] Obviously...

Phillip: [00:50:17] Don't say Costco. I don't wanna hear it.

Brian: [00:50:19] Yeah. Media, Costco. I mean, I don't spend a lot of money.

Phillip: [00:50:27] I know. We know.

Brian: [00:50:31] I really don't. I am a pretty careful shopper, and hence the Costco love.

Phillip: [00:50:37] Don't you have a wine allocation? Don't you have a wine membership?

Brian: [00:50:41] No, it's buy what you want. It's just an email list, and I have slowed way down on that too. You called it earlier. CAROL time.

Phillip: [00:50:54] Yeah. Can't Afford My Rich Old Life. That's CAROL.

Brian: [00:50:58] That's CAROL.

Phillip: [00:50:59] Yeah. Well, that's founder life for us. Any final words? I'll sign us off.

Brian: [00:51:05] No. This is a really boring episode. I think that's what it comes down to.

Phillip: [00:51:09] That's because it had The Boring Mattress Co in it. And if you want more boring episodes, you can find them at FutureCommerce.com. We have five nay, six podcasts, these days, and we are doing our content planning for the year. You don't wanna miss any of it. Go subscribe to wherever podcasts are found or find them all in one easy and convenient location. FutureCommerce.com. We'll let you know when they come out, because that'll get you on our email. The Senses and Insiders are deep essays and our weekly take on the news in your inbox three times a week, respectfully, with the hottest takes in the world of culture and commerce and helping you see around the next corner.

Brian: [00:51:47] And the best leads.

Phillip: [00:51:48] And the absolute best leads. Puns and alliteration are guaranteed, and we would love to have you, join and also take a look at Future Commerce+ membership. Tell a friend about it and support what we're doing here, so you can see around the next corner with Future Commerce. We Love you all. Thank you for hanging in with us for this 49 plus minutes of record time. We can't wait to see you again After Dark. Man, the After Dark's going to be nuts. I have some things to say.

Brian: [00:52:17] Sign up for Future Commerce+. It's going to get wild. Yeah. I have wild things to say on Plus, too.

Phillip: [00:52:23] I'm going to get you to say caucus.

Brian: [00:52:24] If you wanna hear my wildest visions of the future, you need to get subscribed to Future Commerce+. I got stuff to talk about.

Phillip: [00:52:31] Yeah. We'll save that for the the private feed. Thank you all for listening to this episode of Future Commerce. Buh bye.

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