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Lies, Damn Lies, and ESG

PLUS: Misused Commerce Terms
September 14, 2022

When You Wish Upon A Star. Disney has released an AR Short Film on Disney+, and it may be 2022’s version of their groundbreaking 1928 Steamboat Willie cartoon. Finally, some semblance of Disney magic.

State of the Consumer. Deloitte’s Global State of the Consumer Tracker has noted two very interesting stats. Since May, the percentage of Americans concerned about rising prices has fallen from 84% to 73%. Secondly, spending has shifted towards housing and transportation over the past year—and away from more discretionary categories, as experiential spending takes its seasonal swing back in the Fall. Thanks to reader Paul do Forno for getting this on our radar. Sommelier’s Note: this would pair excellently with our annual Visions Report, which proposes some answers to the “why” questions the Deloitte piece asks. 

More Sights & Sounds. Target and FAO Schwarz just entered a multiyear agreement for toy exclusivity starting in October. YouTube is trying to break into the education market again. Livestream shopping worked in China, but the U.S. has really struggled to make it take off, and many social platforms are sunsetting live shopping initiatives. A carwash company in San Diego known as Soapy Joe’s used NFTs to increase customer engagement. Ikea partnered with Swedish House Mafia to make a record player that goes on sale in October. Here is great writeup about misused commerce terms and phrases. Designer headphones or hearing aids? And also… why are AI bots obsessed with generating terrifying images? US Commerce Dept x Google collab is eating up the new domestic manufacturing budget unlocked by the $52B CHIPs Act, to be built for research purposes in Bloomington, MN by NIST. 

Lies, Damn Lies, and ESG. H&M and Decathlon are cooling it with the vague sustainability language used on their clothing and websites after The Netherlands’ Authority for Consumer Markets opened an investigation into their possibly misleading environmental claims. Both companies have also committed to donating big bucks to causes relating to sustainability in the fashion industry to avoid having sanctions imposed on them.

  • Our Take: We predicted this in Visions Podcast Episode 5: businesses will swing back from ESG claims and concerns. Net-net, this could be damaging to the planet, and to corporate sustainability initiatives alike. Fast fashion sustainability efforts have long been considered a form of Trustwashing, and greenwashing is a subset of that type of insincere commitment.

    The role of a corporation is to serve its stakeholders. When those stakeholders change their desires, or we miscalculate the importance of those desires in the purchase process, businesses soon recalibrate.

    But not all is lost — this is the precise role of government. Where consumers and corporations cannot be adequately persuaded to make long-term investments in staving-off climate, change, governments can mandate it. 

Big Environmental Energy. In a completely opposite move, Patagonia’s reluctant billionaire founder, Yvon Chouinard, has given away his company, rather than selling or taking it public. The company will now be in a the hands of a set of trusts and nonprofits to ensure its profits “are used to combat climate change and protect undeveloped land around the globe.”

More Touch News. Off-White’s “Paperwork” (Virgil Abloh) just dropped three toolkit boxes with collections of “fragrance, face and body pigment, and nail polish.” Alo Yoga presented its first collection at NYFW. Rent the Runway’s stock prices took a dive after the company announced it was laying off a quarter of its employees. JC Penney has partnered with Revive to make a personalized AR makeup and skincare shopping experience. And Vera Bradley and On have both debuted resale programs.

Stamp Collection. Starbucks is planning to introduce NFTs and blockchain into its rewards program, known as The Starbucks Odyssey experience. Members will be able to buy and sell collectible digital stamps as a way to increase customer engagement.

Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash

Goodbye to the Tie? After two years of “no pants, no problem” Zoom calls, the dress code of the corporate world is experiencing an evolution. Professional speaker and consultant Allison Shapira remarks in a piece with Harvard Business Review that the standards between business-and-casual have often been drawn across gendered lines. That may be changing, post-pandy, as Shapria remarks: “I felt even more powerful on stage than I had ever felt in heels… elegantly-dressed bankers approached me to ask hopefully, “Can we wear those now?”

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