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The “Embibe Shift”: NA Beer, Religion is Cool, Irony Poisoning

Plus: The Cut Launches Shopping?
August 10, 2022

Scroll to the end for a fascinating take on “Irony Poisoning”, the “alt-right pipeline” and how internet shitposters are modern-day protestant reformers.

Welcome to Wednesday, Futurists. Some things we’ve written about for years are beginning to make their way into popular culture.

  1. The “Embibe Shift”. First, some sad news. Friend of Future Commerce, Helena Price Hambrecht, announced via Twitter that her low-ABV aperitif brand, Haus, would be winding down operations following a lead investor pulling their Series A. 
  • To say that Haus was at the forefront of an NA/Low-ABV movement is an understatement. Haus will be remembered as the Sacrificial Lamb that changed an industry. Now most every major distributor has an NA SKU, with more on the way. NA Beer alone is up 9% CAGR, and 23% of the total market share.
  1. The “Uncorkening” continues with this vitriolic thread from Garden’s Hugh Francis; Haus is the unfair target here, but is a prime example of social groups giving each other permission to speak out against the DTC Era and its movement. Our analysis of The Uncorkening was a recent feature on Insiders.
  2. The Sacraments of… Religion? This widely-panned NYT piece on Catholicism’s comeback draws on some of the themes of our Visions report, and rightly points out that being hip is almost always counter-cultural. And if the culture is decidedly secularized, a return to religious mores seems fitting.
  • In “The Sacraments of Commerce” we explored how Algorithms may give us a new higher power belief system, and the adoption of platforms that primarily use AI are a new form of religious adherence. Kyle Chayke of The New Yorker recently wrote about algorithm anxiety, a phrase that we coined in 2021 with our piece The Idolatry of the Algorithm.

The Visions Podcast is back this week with a brilliant panel, and Seyi Taylor joins us for a WILD ride on the Future Commerce podcast on Monday.

Inflation is cooling, YoY retail numbers looking good, and B2B software is seeing stellar earnings this week. LFG, futurists. Things are starting to look up. 

— Phillip

The Cut to the Chase? New York Magazine’s own The Cut has launched shopping alongside editorial, a new product to deliver discrete recommendations in addition to its trend and culture reporting. Similar to the Buzzfeed model of old, The Cut will work with partners like Amazon to nab referral, or affiliate, commissions on last-touch sales, and the editorial product will no doubt evolve to suit the needs of the business.

Our Take: Where Buzzfeed struggled with Commerce and livestream, The Cut may succeed. They are decidedly more modern, more culturally relevant, and more focused on the up-and-coming NY elite HENRY than Buzzfeed. Their partnerships and editorial are more focused; at a time when luxury is booming despite economic woes. Buzzfeed couldn’t crack livestreaming, but The Cut may be better suited to win with partnerships. Telfar, LVMH, and Moet-Hennessy are seeing growth in 1:1 video; all brands that may resonate with The Cut’s audience.

While the media industry might see Buzzfeed as a failure, the one bright spot in the portfolio was the Commerce team and its growth, helmed by SVP Nilla Ali. Ali, a friend of Future Commerce, recently
announced her departure after five years, and many evolutions of Commerce, at the o.g. clickbait outlet, to cofound an unnamed startup.

Big News. In June, Colorado signed a bipartisan bill into law that goes into effect today, which ends the state’s sales tax on feminine essentials, including hygiene products and diapers. BRB, moving to the mountains.

More Sights & Sounds. Winamp is baaaack! 5.9.1 is about to be released, and it looks to be aiming to compete with Spotify as Gen Z becomes more enamored with physical media. Amazon announced same-day delivery from mall brands including GNC and Pacsun. REI has made a credit card and to ease your worries don't worry it's made of recycled plastics lol. Good news for malls… July showed an increase in mall traffic compared to June. Procter & Gamble’s Marc Pritchard thinks companies are overdoing it with purpose marketing. Check out this TikTok of wild prices (and products) sold at Erewhon. And this is a really good breakdown of where Fintech is innovating in the supply chain.

Jewelry Acquisition. Blue Nile is getting acquired by Signet (Kay, Zales). The crazy fact is that it was supposed to IPO for a reported $870 million, but is instead being acquired for $360 million, all cash. Diamonds and gemstones were early eCom adopters and startups that produced a lot of the early talent in the industry.

The Monster Mash-Up. This upcoming Halloween season, General Mills’ monster cereals will return to stores and will be featured for the first time on ready-to-bake Pillsbury cookies

A.I. Ketchup. Heinz is participating in DALL-E (but it's a fake)? According to Heinz, “A.I. prefers Heinz… just like humans.”

Is the Future in India’s Hands? India is rolling out its Open Network for Digital Commerce in the coming weeks, and all the world is watching. "ONDC envisions itself as creating a digital foundation for commerce that incorporates inventory, logistics, dispute resolution, and more." It's an open book for merchants to bid to buy business. Commission rates are 3% versus 30% for Amazon or Flipkart. This has the possibility to be insanely huge.

Irony Poisoning? The Illusory Truth Effect is a psychological phenomenon where roleplaying can become believing. In a now-deleted TikTok, creator Sarah Schauer muses that cosplaying as an internet troll has the unfortunate side-effect of causing actual, legitimate, shifts in belief; a concept she entitled Irony Poisoning, where ironic beliefs become sincere.

The term first appeared in 2016 on Twitter, but has been lightly unpacked in media. A Hungry Minds podcast from 2019 does a decent job of unpacking the phenomenon

Our Take: Maybe it’s not the shitposters we need to be worried about, but rather their acolytes and admirers who will undoubtedly do misdeeds in their name? It wasn’t Martin Luther’s 99 theses that killed innocents; but rabid followers who became radicalized in his name. And what are the modern theses if not a Twitter thread? More on the topic can be found in our Visions Report.

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