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The $3B Summer Camp Industry and Growing Fatigue with The American Dream
What We're Reading and Talking About on Slack This Week
The CQ is Forerunner’s weekly newsletter rounding up the most pressing consumer news and analysis, plus some bonus musing from our investment team. Subscribe now to get the latest edition in your inbox every Saturday.
What We’re Talking About on Slack:
To Gen Z, food is the new luxury. So what does that mean for fashion? From Erewhon smoothies to a specific Joe & the Juice sandwich, food now represents the same element of status and style as darling retail brands. So naturally, fashion and beauty brands are jumping on the trend, aligning with popular food brands or using them at events or in campaigns. One example: Skincare brand Agent Nateur partnered with Erewhon on a smoothie featuring its Holi hair supplement, which sold over 16,000 smoothies and sparked a second collaboration with a bottled version of the smoothie. “Limited production runs, seasonal offerings and collaborations create a sense of exclusivity and desirability among young consumers.”
Faire’s Head of Strategy and Analytics Dan Hockenmaier shares spot-on tactical advice about winning as a marketplace *after* you’ve reached product market fit. In his words: “A great deal of digital ink has been spilled on how to solve the chicken-and-egg problem and take a marketplace from 0 to 1. And it’s good advice! Until it rapidly becomes dangerous advice. When you reach product market fit and GMV begins to scale rapidly, all of the sudden your resources are pointed at the wrong metrics.” Post-PMF marketplaces need to consider: 1) Liquidity is the only thing, until it isn’t, 2) Customer acquisition is wildly inefficient, 3) Day 1 pricing is a blunt instrument, 4) TAM expansion is harder than it looks, and 5) Network effects will not save you.
Is there a growing disenchantment with the American Dream? For many, the goalposts of success are no longer ambition, wealth and status. Today’s workers, who are younger, more diverse and include more women than decades past, are searching for work with a different kind of meaning. The Wall Street Journal follows people who are rejecting the American Dream in favor of their own ever-evolving path to fulfillment, and discovers that among those who said their work transition improved their lives, 6 in 10 earned the same or less than before.
The very high cost of bad credit. Americans are spending billions to repair poor credit, with little to show for it — it’s hitting low-income communities hardest. Last year, the credit-repair industry came it at $4.4 billion, up from $3 billion in 2019. People are paying fees to obtain their credit scores, which have been hidden from them — and meanwhile there isn’t even a unified scoring system. “It’s an industry of bizarre variability — multilevel-marketing-style organizations, boiler-room operations and by-the-book agents working within onerous federal restrictions on charging fees to customers up front, before any ‘repair’ has occurred — and unequal success.”
A new poll of 1,000 Americans found that 90% of consumers have lost trust in influencers. Who do they trust? “Real” people. Over 85% said that they are more likely to trust a brand that publishes user-generated content that was unpaid. “Consumers today are very aware, especially Gen Z, of influencers. They know they’re getting paid. Once they know they’re getting paid to promote a product, they lose authenticity.”
Summer camp is big business — $3B annually, according to Bloomberg, in a report that outlines the “hot mess” industry. Prices are staggeringly high, there’s steep competition for spots with registration often starting in January, and even though parents look to camp as childcare, many don’t cover the full workday (9 to 3, or 9 to 1, is standard) nor the full 10 weeks of summer. If you have a child with special needs, the search is increasingly difficult. What makes it hard is that camps usually lack resources: operation costs are high, funding is often stymied, and staffing is a big struggle. “Only in the past 30 years was there any routine acknowledgment that camp is care and care is something kids of every demographic need.”
60 Minutes talked with a few of the 2,000+ families who are suing social media platforms over their kids’ mental health (there are more than 350 lawsuits against TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, Roblox and Meta expected this year). The parents detail how their kids were led to an eating disorder or suicide, allegedly due to the algorithm and weak restrictions — while hidden documents prove that Meta knew and did little to stop it.
Gen Z is surprisingly eager for home ownership — more so than past generations relative to their age — and that could change the home improvement and furniture industries. Because over 70% of Gen Z’ers plan to buy their first home in the next one to six years, experts predict “that home improvement and home-furnishing retailers will need to prepare to cater to Gen Z’ers, who value sustainably sourced products that are personalized and don’t sacrifice quality for the sake of convenience.”
TikTok hits a very formative moment in its social media platform trajectory: old people are adapting it and making it their own. The New York Times looks at the recent spike in middle-aged and older creators — and the brands now poaching them: “TikTok is an easy platform for older people to build audiences because users’ feeds surface content based on what they might be interested in and accounts similar to those they have viewed, rather than just from accounts they follow. It removed a barrier between creators and viewers.”
Work at a Portfolio Company:
Accounting Manager | Fora: Fora is modernizing the travel agency by empowering hundreds of thousands entrepreneurs to transform their passion for travel into a fun new career, curating incredible trip experiences for travelers. This role will be responsible for overseeing all accounting activities, financial reporting and compliance, working closely with the Head of Finance and Strategic Finance and Biz Ops Manager to drive strategies and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.
Content Operations Manager | Curated: Curated is on a mission to help people find exactly what they’re looking for in the world of high-stakes purchases, whether it’s a first snowboard, a brand new baby stroller, or upgraded coffee machine. This role will source, engage and guide freelance Content Experts as they create written and video content that showcases their expertise and helps people make buying decisions on the best products for their needs.
Director, Compounding Production | Hims & Hers: Hims & Hers is a multi-specialty telehealth platform building a virtual front door to the healthcare system. This role will lead, motivate, scale, and support the compound pharmacy team to produce and dispense prescriptions to patients in a safe, efficient, and scalable manner.
There are ~489 other openings on our jobs site. Check ‘em out.