The CQ: Hot Topics 🔥
What consumer stories were on our minds all summer, and which narratives will extend into the fall?
The CQ is Forerunner’s weekly newsletter covering the most pressing consumer trends and analysis, as well as business-building insights from our investment team. Subscribe now to get the latest edition in your inbox every Saturday.
In Case You Missed It…
The Most Popular CQ Stories of the Summer
With all the discussion of a summer slowdown in VC funding and winters across industries, it was a busy summer for research and analysis here at Forerunner. As the market yo-yos, inflation affects more consumers, tech companies continue lay-offs, and the The Great Resignation wears on, we expect more volatility and a changing zeitgeist; The CQ is a place for us to make sense of these changes and provide potential answers. (Don’t forget—you can always ask us a question about consumers or the market here.)
In case you missed any of our previous editions, we wanted to provide one more chance to do so before sun sets on the summer. Check out some of the most resonant stories we published over the last three months.
Which was your favorite? Tell us: email@example.com
This Week’s Top 10 Consumer Insights
For the second year in a row, life expectancy in the U.S. has dropped in 2021–by 2.7 years this time, the biggest single-year drop in a hundred years and the lowest life expectancy figure since 1996. Unsurprisingly, the Covid-19 pandemic is the largest contributor to the decline.
As the stock market improves ever-so-slightly and gas prices begin to fall, consumer optimism was up for the first time in several months during August.
California wants to set a new precedent for fast-food worker wages, perhaps making the minimum wage as high as $22 per hour. This would affect more companies that predominantly operate their own locations like In-N-Out, Starbucks, and Chipotle.
Fashion collaborations are built for hype factor…and sales. But their allure might be fading as the market gets saturated with collabs. While LV x Supreme sold for a 400% markup years back, some 70% of YEEZY GAP ENGINEERED BY BALENCIAGA is still widely available for purchase, in addition to 68% of the stock for Gucci x adidas.
Many have advocated for greater salary transparency over the years, but California–home to the major tech giants, as well as countless startups–is pushing forward with a law that would force all employers with 15+ employees to share an hourly rate or salary range on every job listing.
Every app developer is subject to a steep tax to reach consumers–and that affects a whole lot of emerging companies. A new bill wants to break up Apple and Google’s dominance over the apps on our phones–of which they regularly generate a 15% to 30% cut of every purchase.
The business card, a longtime networking companion for many professionals, is finally dying after a pandemic that changed the way we connect. In its place, people are using “physical cards with QR codes, scannable digital cards or chips embedded in physical items that allow people to share contact details with a tap.”
We’ve all spent too much time waiting in a long drive-thru line, especially after the pandemic. To fix the issue, Panera Bread is piloting AI technology to streamline the process at 45% of its stores, which have drive-thrus.
As California tightens up its sustainability measures, will it be a bellwether for the broader United States? The state will ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035 in a move to shift toward EVs that are better for the environment.
If you’re looking for a new car this Labor Day, don’t expect runaway deals. Incentives for new cars are down over 47% compared to this time last year–but the used car market is seeing a rebound. However, the used-car market is becoming friendlier, with prices on three-year-old cars down almost 5% since they peaked at the start of 2022.
“There are a ton of challenges that have occurred in the DTC space as it has matured. You have this confluence of rising customer acquisition costs and iOs changes, you have logistics mayhem and increased shopping costs, you have recent DTC weak public performance after strong debuts. What it all cracks up to is that DTC is not dead, but it’s just evolving. It’s not the be-all, end-all for any brand. We’re a decade past where DTC was at the forefront of innovation. It’s still a viable and important channel, but it’s just table stakes. It’s one of the many channels that brands need to pursue to be everywhere the customer is, which is how you win. It happens to be one where brands can create a more standout experience and get to know the consumer better—so you better be good at it if you want to win as a modern brand, but it’s not going to set you apart.”
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Eurie sat down with Emily Chang at Bloomberg Tech to discuss the importance of the startup board, as well as how to create a diverse pipeline of candidates.
Brian sits down with Nick Moran, GP at New Stack Ventures, to discuss future acquisition strategies, common marketplace mistakes, and capitalizing on consumer interest in local and sustainable products, on The Full Ratchet Podcast.
Nicole talks about the evolving state of DTC and physical retail, as well as what it takes to win as a brand in 2022, during The Rethink Retail Podcast.
Kat Schneider, Founder & CEO of Ritual, talks to Beauty Independent about her history and the future of ingredient traceability.
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