The Lunar Economy

Spatial Commerce? 🙅‍♂️ SPACE-ial Commerce 💁‍♀️
February 23, 2024

It’s Friday, futurists!

Yesterday, our very own Phillip Jackson hosted the EEE Conference to kick off the inaugural Miami eCommerce Week. Scroll to the end in the “Sixth Sense” for a recap of Phillip’s keynote and his swim in the Shark Tank!

Pictured: Future Commerce CEO interviews Daymond John/courtesy EEE Miami 2024

Secondly, we’re busy gearing up for our first VISIONS: SUMMIT event at SXSW. Join us for an evening of thought leadership, futurism, brand canon, and cultural critique.

Space is very limited in this one-of-a-kind venue. Register now, or you’ll miss out:

Phillip’s traveling, so today on The Senses, you get little ole’ me, Erin, talking about 🌙 The Lunar Economy.

Spatial Commerce and Space-ial Commerce?? In this Economy?!?!

As if the news of Apple’s spatial commerce wasn’t news enough this week, private space exploration company, Intuitive Machines, achieved the historic honor of being the first commercially-funded space landing in history. Their partnership with SpaceX and NASA marks the first moon landing in over 50 years.

Credit: Intuitive Machines

The Houston-based publicly traded space exploration company has “opened access to the moon for the progress of humanity.” Not as tight or memorable as “to boldly go” as far as space mission statements go; and as a galactic layperson, I’m not entirely sure what that means. 

But I’m intrigued. 

IM dreams of a future where space travel is so so accessible as to offer ride-share systems off-world (so we can finally live out our dreams of Uber surge pricing to the moon). In their “Lunar Access Manual,” IM welcomes us to “the next step in space exploration — the Moon is now within your reach.”

Within my reach? A pretty audacious claim, considering that the modern private space travel industry is little more than the billionaire space cowboys club.

A publicly traded space exploration mission wouldn’t be the same without endorsements. Have no fear, because Columbia Sportswear’s logo is plastered on every side of the lunar lander. “I wonder what the CPM is for OOP (off of planet) advertising these days?”

Another striking feature: the logo is roughly twice that of NASA’s. I run operations for a growing media brand; I understand the importance of partner logo placement and size on large projects. And they really said “make the logo bigger.”

Source: Intuitive Machines

Upon further research, I learned that this lunar lander has six commercial payloads.

They are:

  1. Columbia Sportswear. The same Omni-Heat Infinity technology in your Columbia ski jacket you bought at the outlets insulates the Lunar Lander.
  2. Embry-Riddle University: Students at Embry-Riddle created the EagleCam, a first device to take a third-person picture of a spacecraft landing. One of IM’s co-founders is an alumnus.
  3. Jeff Koons, Artist. Jeff Koons sent up a collection of sculptures, Moon Phases, containing 125 unique artworks each consisting of a sculpture to be installed on the moon, a sculpture to stay on the earth, and a corresponding NFT (what year is it?). Moon Phases is the first authorized artwork on the moon.
  4. International Lunar Observatory Association. ILO-X is a Moon South Pole observatory, which will capture the first images of the Milky Way Galaxy from the surface of the moon.
  5. Galactic Legacy Labs: Mission: Lunaprise is a cultural database designed to preserve human knowledge for eternity. Lunaprise can accept text, images, music and video files. Cat pictures, memes.
  6. Lonestar Data. Lonestar hopes to send data centers to the moon to create the world’s first extraterrestrial documents.

The press cycle around the landing has been focused on the elements of its public/private partnership, and the commercial viability of the launch. More interesting still are the inclusion of other culturally-relevant 21st-century partnerships: a retail clothing brand, higher education, a work from a living artist, private observatories, a cultural time capsule, and a data center.

NASA’s CLPS program has created unlimited possibilities for space exploration. The role of space exploration has expanded beyond scientific utilitarianism into the realms of cultural celebration. This is no accident: culture and commerce coexist. Wherever commerce goes, culture follows.

“NASA is just one of many customers,” said Gary Jordan, Manager of Communications and Public Aaffairs at NASA from a livestream.  “This [landing] is an important element to ensure this model of transporting incredible science and technology instruments to the lunar surface is a sustainable and robust one.”

Said differently: for mankind to venture to the stars, we need brands to help make it economically viable. If this isn’t commerce as culture, I don’t know what is.

— Erin

P.S. Until retail shops open in space you’ll need to learn how to build them down here on Earth. Luckily, we have a full hour-long podcast this week dedicated to doing just that: building physical retail capabilities for the first time in your DTC business. Listen to our discussion with Rebekah Kondrat and Libby Shani of Rekon Retail on Apple or Spotify

P.P.S. Space nerd out with me by tuning in to the NASA news conference live beginning at 5 PM ET on YouTube!

She Took the Mob Wife Aesthetic Literally. Michelle Mack stands accused of leading a national crime ring responsible for the theft of $8M worth of makeup from stores like Ulta; the contraband was then on her Amazon storefront. Deputies uncovered more than $300k in stolen goods in her home. Mack is allegedly the ringleader of a group of more than a dozen coconspirators; there are now 140 counts against nine participants in California for grand theft, receiving stolen property, conspiracy, and organized retail crime.

More Sights and Sounds: Despite raising over $2.8B, Techstars Seattle shuts down as part of a shift toward stronger VC markets. Vice Media plans to lay off several hundred employees, sunsetting BuzzFeed sold Complex, the entertainment media brand it acquired for $300M in 2021, to livestream shopping platform NTWRK for $108M. Steve Salter calls for a collective effort from consumers and brands to redefine our relationship with material goods, aiming for a positive future. Overstock’s new CEO renews their vows with Shopify.

Image Credit: @DLVermeer on X

“The Devil & Kris Jenner work hard, but Shein works harder.” TikToker Tahlie McInnes went viral for her understandably emotional reaction to Netflix show “One Day” gaining over 29 million views. Shein allegedly used Tahlie’s video in a TikTok ad from a potential spam account to promote a Shein survey without the creator’s consent. The videos have since been deleted.

New Balance’s New Balance. In 2023, New Balance posted a record $6.5B in gross merchandise for 2023, a 23% increase from 2022 across all global markets. Part of this is due to the success of their global apparel business, which crossed $1B. Key partnerships were cited as an area of growth, US Open winner Coco Gauff and athletes like Kawhi Leonard and Shohei Ohtani. NB will open 90 new stores in 2024.

Source: Beyond Meat

Bed Bath and Beyond Meat. In an effort to lure health enthusiasts and vegans alike back to their product, Beyond Meat is launching a new, healthier version of their Beyond Burger, cutting down on saturated fat and sodium content. The update to the recipe comes in response to meat-alternatives falling out of fashion over the last two years.

Credit: Beyoncé, Instagram

Beyoncé makes history… again. Some positive news to start your weekend, in true Queen Bey fashion, Beyoncé has become the first black woman to top the Country Music Chart. Fellow American queen and proud Beyoncé fan, Dolly posted a heartfelt congratulations this morning for her historic achievement. Love to see queens supporting queens.

EEE recap featuring FC's own Phillip Jackson with Shark Tank's Daymond John is right over here.

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