Skepticism Required: Life “Beyond the Algorithm”?

PLUS: Café Bustelo Sells Its Soul to RTD
June 17, 2024
Pictured: scenes from VISIONS Summit: NYC on Tuesday, June 11th.

Welcome to Monday, futurists. 

We’re still buzzing from our NYC Summit at MoMA (full recap is loading…) Our sold-out event featured brilliant minds from across tech, media, culture, and commerce.

Miss the event? No big woop—every session, every talk, every minute of content will be made available exclusively to Future Commerce+ subscribers. Join today to get access to the content when it drops next week.

— Phillip

Pictured: Shopify GMV (image credit: @juokaz on X/Twitter)

Shopify Crossed $1T in GMV. Shopify crossed $1 Trillion in cumulative GMV this week, and its path to its next Trillion may be accelerating. The Canadian eCommerce giant is running at a $250B GMV run-rate for 2024. CEO Tobi Lutke celebrated the one-trillionth dollar order from Salt & Sundry, an SMB merchant on the platform.

The Road to McDonalds is Paved with Value Menus. Starbucks has seemingly entered the value menu wars, completing its transformation (read: devolution) from upscale coffee chain to wayward fast food brand. With its new "pairings" menu, customers can nab a croissant or pastry with a basic coffee for $5-7.

Midjourney prompt: A cologne that smells like grilling

Make It Till You Fake It? The hypebeast sneaker economy has been hit harder than monkey jpegs. But that didn’t stop resale platform StockX from issuing its annual Verification report. The report detailed the most common counterfeits caught by the platform’s experts. Adidas products top the list (Yeezy Boost and Campus), while Telfar and Jacquemus bags earned honorable mentions.

What Do You Buy the Dad Who Has Everything? Anything but this. Chef Bobby Flay and Pepsi have partnered to launch a grilling-inspired ‘COLAogne’ for Father’s Day. If you’re in Miami, Denver, or Philadelphia over the weekend, head to the (checks notes) garden center of your local Walmart to try the scent on for size.

Image credit: Cafe Bustelo

It’s Always Bustelo Time. In the latest ‘culture is being flattened’ news, now almost anyone can experience the iced Cafe Bustelo, a South Florida favorite, thanks to a new RTD SKU that has made its way into Target stores nationwide.

Our Take: “It feels like it devalues the brand for a cheap money grab,” said a Future Commerce+ subscriber to us in an off-the-record conversation. South Floridians will recognize the distinctive packaging as it is usually merchandised next to a moka pot and disposable plastic thimbles—the essential tools for making a ‘colada,’ the syrupy-sweet concentrated espresso drink popularized in the region by the Cuban community.

Despite the fact that Cafe Bustelo has been part of the JM Smucker family of brands for over a decade, available nationwide as a yellow-and-red vacuum-sealed brick, the RTD export feels especially dilutive. The percolator is sacrosanct—a hallowed part of the ritual of making a cafecito or cafe con leché. 

To borrow words from Kyle Chayka, when brands are found outside of their context, it results in culture being ‘flattened’; exported beyond regional and cultural boundaries to deliver a homogenized (and anesthetized) retail experience, cheaply, in Target stores nationwide. Drink up! 

Image credit: Vogue

Vogue Opens Up. Over 15,000 never-before-seen images from the Vogue Archives have been meticulously archived by Google Arts & Culture in collaboration with Conde Nast Archives. The project spans 600 print issues, including unpublished works, and includes an immersive exhibition with over 30 stories that explore the history of the magazine, its photographers, illustrators, and models.

Midjourney prompt: A shady businessman doing a back alley deal

Trust Is Earned (...But Can Be Bought). Marketing firm Omnisend just published a research study of factors of trust in Chinese marketplace shoppers (e.g. Temu, Shein). The TL;DR: shoppers will still buy, even if the brand is deemed untrustworthy, if they’re getting a steal.

Interesting insights from the n=4,000 online shopper survey across the US, UK, AU, and CA include:

  • Americans are most open to shopping Chinese marketplaces, 20% shopping weekly
  • Brits love buying clothes at Shein, 62% are customers
  • Canadians trust Chinese stores the least (just 3.5%!), but 55% still shop at Temu
  • Aussies believe Temu has the most potential to compete with Amazon
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