November 9, 2016

Big Ideas: Personal Best

Our biweekly look at retail disruption. 

border-collie-jump-water-british-sheepdog-37860.jpegWhen retail times get tough, retailers get inspired. But some inspiration is better than others. Each week, we evaluate what works—and what doesn't. 

Google Maps Delivers Dinner  

Google Maps rolled an update out to iOS users, which will let them see what local delivery options are available from restaurants, including services like Seamless and GrubHub, and order from them, all without leaving the app. 

Will it work? Here at Persio HQ, we're fans of anything that makes it easier to get delicious food to your house, but this seems like a good idea in theory, not execution. Like ordering fries for delivery. For one, it comes just days after Facebook announced a similar innovation and as Amazon invests in its own GrubHub / UberEats competitor. It feels a bit like chasing previous successes from other tech firms—and while sometimes Alphabet delivers the Pixel, sometimes it offers up Google Plus. Second, Google Maps users are typically looking for something in their area or directions. While it's possible a Google Maps user might be seeing what delivery options are nearby, we suspect many more are looking for a place to visit in person. 

Haute Hijabs

Chanel isn't the first designer to offer hijabs, but the retailer drew attention last week for dressing mannequins in its Rodeo Drive location in them. After seeing declines in its global luxury market, Chanel has shifted focus to cultivating new audiences and demographics. 

Will it work? Vogue launched Vogue Arabia late last month. Thomas Reuters predicts that by 2019, Muslim shoppers will spend $484 billion on clothes and shoes, and Los Angeles' convention bureau found that visitors from Saudi Arabia spend more money per trip than any other country, with an average of $4,550 per trip in 2014 for a total of $259.3 million. There is definitely a market and up until recently, it's been underserved by major fashion companies. With brands as varied as Uniqlo, Dolce & Gabbana and Oscar de la Renta developing collections targeting Muslim consumers, we think Chanel's making a smart move. 

10 Items or Less

Vegan meal kit startup Purple Carrot will partner with Whole Foods to offer its boxed dinner kits in stores. The pilot program will begin in a suburban Boston store, near where Purple Carrot is based, with three recipes a week. 

Will it work? Vegan meal kits and Whole Foods seem like a match made in an NPR station, at least in terms of core audience, and a new product line for convenience eating certainly fits well into Whole Foods' product mix. But one of the chief benefits of meal kits is that they're so convenient because they're delivered to your home. Will people be as interested in Purple Carrot if they need to lug a meal kit home from the store? 

Walking on Water

Last year, Adidas debuted a concept for a new sneaker, made from a 3D printer with material recycled from ocean waste. Now, the world's second-biggest sportswear maker debuts the UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley, a limited edition line of 7,000 sneakers created in collaboration with the environmental group Parley for the Oceans. Each pair contains roughly 11 recycled plastic bottles and costs $220.

Will it work? Adidas is at Nike's heels, sales-wise, and developing an environmentally friendly line of sneakers gives them a leg up on reaching Millennial customers, who are willing to pay more for sustainably produced goods. The price point feels about where a premium sneaker would fall. This is a personal best.