Olive Oil Coffee Diarrhea on the Blockchain

PLUS: Shoppable TV Takes Off
February 22, 2023

Welcome to Wednesday, futurists! 

It’s a big day, because I can officially complain about Starbucks’ Odyssey NFT platform now, as I received my invite just this morning.

The timing was clutch, too, because it came 12 hours after the Starbucks PR blitzathon that launched Oliveoilgate 2023. In a scheme that was likely dreamt up by the Graza partnerships team, Starbucks announced Tuesday that it would be trialing olive-oil infused coffee. 

That’s right: oil-in-your-coffee isn’t just for the ketoheads and the toxic bulletproof-coffee-crossfitters anymore. It’s for the Everyman. And what could be more “everyman” than a weekly bout of diarrhea? 

Gastrointestinal distress seems like a natural segue to Odyssey, the Starbucks NFT “loyalty” platform.

I use air-quotes around loyalty, because the main goal of the platform is not to drive more direct commerce; it’s to expand your knowledge of Starbucks’ heritage and drive deeper education of the quality and provenance of the coffee product.

In order to gain stamps, I have to engage with pre-existing content (many at coffeeexperiences.starbucks.com) and answer quizzes about it. Not sure if that’s quite as gross as the coffee from Starbucks, but it’s close.

Aside from HR harassment training, I can think of scant few things I’d want to do LESS than take eLearning quizzes about very mid coffee to collect virtual stamps to earn virtual trophies.

Time will tell if this accomplishes the ultimate goal of any commercial endeavor and loyalty experience: to extract additional value from the consumer. Keep in mind, the average Starbucks consumer already has an LTV of >$14,000 (data courtesy Kissmetrics). 

I know that my New Year’s resolution was to be a techno-optimist, so I’ll temper my tone a bit. The sun’s shining here in Palm Beach, nothing can get me down.

Except maybe being stuck in the bathroom at Starbucks with the olive oil sh*ts. 

— Phillip

P.S. The sun will be shining in Palm Springs, too. Next week join me at eTail West, where I’ll be interviewing folks from Skechers, and co-hosting Bulls***t Buzzword Bingo with my friends from WB Research. Reply to this email for an invite to a secret event. 🤫

Gen Z’s Faves. Numerator has done some market research and gathered a list of Gen Z’s top brands. Their biggest focuses are no surprise, with healthy food options and self-care products dominating the list.

“Retail Brands Slow-Play Hiring” While larger companies are announcing layoffs in droves, it leaves smaller companies reconsidering hiring methods. It seems hiring managers are being more cautious than usual.

Our Take: The article from Modern Retail cites two very new CPG DTC brands, Paro and Gorgie. Gorgie is founded by multi-time Future Commerce podcast guest, Michelle Cordeiro-Grant. They are on a PR stint at the moment, and the piece reads as such.

Paro, a three-week old solo-founder brand; so their hiring practices probably aren’t a great surrogate for the whole of the DTC ecosystem.

Once you understand how trade media works, and how publicists insert themselves and their brands into stories, you’ll begin to understand how the world works. Become immune to narratives and hype cycles. You’ll be better for it.

More Sights & Sounds. In the first of many partnerships, Bain and OpenAI have created a strategic alliance. Spotify is launching a new vertical swipe feature in the app, in efforts to attract Gen Z. Facebook and Instagram are following Twitter’s lead and offering paid verification for users in Austrailia and New Zealand this week. Target is beefing up its spend on eComm, pouring $100 million into its supply chain. Meanwhile, the U.S. overall had its worst quarter in eCommerce since 2009. Google Quantum AI has released an update on a quantum error correction milestone. Foundry, a soon-to-launch OpenAI offering, is a developer platform that will let customers run newer machine learning models. Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson has partnered with John Kascht to create a grown-up fable called, The Mysteries. Also, speaking of mysteries… could this really be Skrillex?

It’s a Tonal Disaster. The home fitness industry is on the struggle bus. With Peloton trading down 90%+, it's killing the valuation of other connected fitness startups like Tonal. Tonal, valued at $1.90 billion just six months ago, is now seeking funding that values the company much lower, closer to $500 million. The company runs the risk of being valued less than the total number of dollars they have raised.

Bowls in Beta. In March, Chipotle will be piloting a new fast casual concept in Santa Monica, CA, called Farmesa Fresh Eatery. It’s not the first time the company has tested out a secondary brand, however, the colorful ingredients and freshness of this concept is super exciting and hopefully it will take off!

Subs for Sale. Subway has confirmed that it is exploring the possibility of a sale, following the passing of its last remaining founder in 2021.

Fake but Beautiful. Digital creators are using AI tools to design fake brand mashups, and they are honestly wild and super fun to see. It’s also creating unrealistic expectations from consumers, whose dreams are markedly better than reality.

Shopping on TV. Shoppable TV was born in the late 70’s and has been on journey ever since. With our current technology and the shopping habits of younger generations, television commerce may be poised for its true moment in the sun. The article features our friend Evan Moore’s sage words of wisdom.

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