March 19, 2024

Cuppa 11: $35 marketing budgets, Manufacturers as brands, Last-touch is misleading, Online dating

Sasha Jeppesen
Head of Creative

Welcome to the latest issue of Cuppa, a quick-fire newsletter for internet-first brand builders. Filled with analysis on the art, science and culture of building breakout brands in a digital age, it's quick enough to read over a cuppa. (Or something stronger, if you need's 5 o'clock somewhere). To get it direct to your inbox every other Tuesday, subscribe here.


Two brands thrived during the pandemic, but only one survived…

Activewear label Vuori raised $400 million this week, while cult-sweatsuit brand Entireworld announced its closing shop. Both thrived off our pandemic-fuelled appetites for casual wear, but while Entireworld leaned in, Vuori stepped back to focus on product differentiation. With promises of initial mega-growth, it's easy for DTC brands to fall victim to the trend cycle. This tale serves as an important reminder that in order to build a brand for the long-haul you can advantage of a trend, but you can't let it define you.


The power of harnessing a $35 marketing budget 

Depending on what corners of LinkedIn you hang out in, you may or may not be familiar with the marketing efforts of Thursday - the latest dating app on the scene. Famously given a budget of only $35, each stunt has doubled the app's weekly downloads. With an increasing pressure for brands to launch with shiny, glossy campaigns, it's nice to see more scrappy, experimental tactics win. 


How brands are becoming household names 

Debut with one or two hit products, then dominate the category by becoming a lifestyle brand - it's a strategy we're seeing DTC darlings like Away, Casper, and Allbirds begin to adopt, but it's not easy to execute. It requires serious brand discipline and patience. 



Italic raises $37M to empower manufacturers to become brands 

We've seen versions of this business model before - forecaster Victoria Buchanan has a great thread about it - but with a recent raise of $37M, Italic is taking on the task to make C2M (consumer-to-manufacturer) a legitimate e-commerce model. Italic’s infrastructure works with the same manufacturers that produce for the world’s leading brands, such as Prada, to sell under their own namesake brands at 50-80% more affordable prices - mega value chain disruption!


Can e-commerce learn from Netflix's thumbnail strategy? 

Research has shown that thumbnail artwork has the biggest influence on what content we choose to watch. This Twitter thread from Trung Phan breaks down the crazy levels of optimisation Netflix pushes into their thumbnail art, and it's got me thinking - what would happen if we adopted this level of thumbnail optimisation in e-commerce?


How to be responsible for the last mile of your parcel's journey 

This is one to share with your operations team - with all its stopping, starting, and searching for parking spaces, the last mile is one of the most polluting steps of a parcel's journey. Here's what you need to focus on to make a cleaner and greener last-mile logistics network.

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Empowering manufacturers to become brands themselves


Algorithmic dating is out. Personal ads are in. 

Every Friday, Randa Sakallah pushes send on Hot Singles - a Substack newsletter that features profiles of eligible New Yorkers, framed in the old-school style of personal ads. With 800 subscribers and growing, Hot Singles perfectly demonstrates what online dating looks like in an app-fatigued world, and potentially even our desire to discover and explore algorithm-free. 


Why are Emily Mariko's food TikTok's so addictive? 

This past week I've been unashamedly influenced by Emily Mariko - the 29-year-content creator behind that salmon rice video - the one that broke the internet and as of today has 64 million views (if you haven't seen it, I'm warning you of its power). But the elements behind what makes her content so addictive is a study in internet culture and a new type of wellness.


Memes control everything 

Here's a thought: popular songs, business strategies, GIFs, TikTok dances, slang, and clothing are all memes, and all demonstrate how the mind works. Seems like a stretch? Just read this article and prepare to be mind-blown. 

Sasha Jeppesen
Head of Creative
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