Member Brief: CLUB EBITDA

Retail is an EBITDA sport. In 2019, at Shopify Plus’s New York conference, a relatively unknown, foreign brand espoused the importance of healthy growth and profitability. American brands received all of the attention back then, but it was Daily Paper founder and CEO Hussein Suleiman that won over a crowd of fawning American entrepreneurs. He and I spoke after his speech and he left me with a quote that nodded to The Social Network’s most remembered line:

A million dollars raised isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A million dollars earned.

This content is designed exclusively for Executive Members

Memo: Squid Game Effect

Netflix’s Squid Game is the platform’s newest hit: the show, which premiered mid-September, is on track to outpace Bridgerton and The Witcher to become its most-sampled original series. The show debuted on Netflix on September 17 and by October 1, it was parodied on Black Twitter with an hilarious rendition: If Black People were in Squid Game. And, well, that meant that I finally had to watch it. Those are the rules.

The South Korean drama about a group of indebted citizens subjected to playing life-threatening games in order to win money, has also become a cultural phenomenon, showing just how much Netflix’s bets on original series with no pre-existed IP or fanbase can pay off. The Netflix phenomenon has moved on to its retail phase.

First, there’s the official merch. Netflix’s online store is now selling T-shirts and sweatshirts inspired by the show, in an attempt to wrangle some of the enthusiasm around the series like it’s done with Stranger Things in the past. But Netflix is only capturing a small portion of the excitement. Pop-ups in Paris and Seoul that are hosting games inspired by the show have drawn fans willing to line up, and in some cases fight each other, to get in. Lacy Maguire of Vogue Business quantified more of the fashion interest:

Squid Game’s influence is already taking hold, according to data from Lyst, as seen by Vogue Business. While the show’s style is more muted than Bridgerton, consumers are already buying into signature costumes. Within days of its release, global searches for retro-inspired tracksuits (+97 per cent), white slip-on sneakers (+145 per cent), red boiler suits (+62 per cent) and white numbered T-shirts (+35 per cent) have all spiked. Vans are the most viewed slip-on sneakers over the past week, while demand for the color teal is up 130 per cent week-on-week.

Additionally, Squid Game is expected to be one of the most popular Halloween costumes this season, with sales of white Vans slip-on sneakers and red boilersuits, worn by players and guards in the show, spiking. According to data from Sole Supplier, Vans sales were up 7,800% while searches were up 92%, according to Lyst.

The lasting impact of Squid Game is still up in the air. Can this become a franchise? Or will it stay contained to one season? With season two yet to be confirmed, the biggest takeaway is that foreign shows with subtitles have legs in markets, even those thought to be averse to subtitles. The K-drama has landed in the US, meaning the gate is open to explore a vast library of content. The stars are going to rise with it. Already, Louis Vuitton has signed Ho Yeon Jung as one of its ambassadors following her time on the show. Whether there’s a season two or not is almost beside the point. Netflix has shown that even up against Disney+ and its rights to many franchises, an original show can land and there’s money to be made when it does.

By Web Smith | Editor: Hilary Milnes | About 2PM

Member Brief: Digitally Native Vertical Brands

Andy Dunn is quiet these days. But one of the most important essays written in the short history of the direct-to-consumer industry was written by him. It’s time that we revisit the meaning of vertical.

We have lost sight of what it means to build a digitally native vertical brand. This essay covers why more in the internet retail industry should focus their efforts on reconfiguring their asset and labor-lite marketing companies into full-fledged vertical brands. As more of today’s negative market forces hinder the operations of this class of retailers, logistics, delivery, labor, paid customer acquisition, and research and development have suffered. But this isn’t universal. There are early stage DNVBs that have command over each proverbial floor of their vertical brand.

This content is designed exclusively for Executive Members