Weekly reading – 29th April 2023

What I wrote last week

a16z pushed a weak narrative for ACH. I disagree


($) Pepsi’s New Healthy Diet: More Potato Chips and Soda. Under the previous CEO, Pepsi was pushing towards healthier products and drinks. Under the current CEO, that’s no longer the case. Pepsi is back to being a brand of soda and chips. Ramon Laguarta understands that consumers are more conscious of potential impact that his company’s products can have on health. But he also has a mandate to increase shareholder values. Therefore, Pepsi is trying to thread the needle: still sell the processed food and soda, but make them as less salty or sweet as possible. So far, it has been positive because Pepsi has had a revenue spike. But for how long? There is only so much you can do to limit salt and sugar before soda and chips don’t taste good any more. And the consumer trend towards healthy snacks may accelerate again. Perhaps, the previous CEO didn’t succeed, not because her direction was wrong, but because her timing was.

Bud Light’s attempt to market to new customers alienated old ones. A very interesting article on how direct-to-consumers brands struggle to strike the right balance in a politically volatile market like the US. Success stories like Apple with their inclusive marketing campaigns are as common as drama like Anheuser-Busch. Brands will need to take a leap of faith, test & learn and adjust accordingly.

Some brands pull back on Pinterest ad spend because of weak performance metrics. Pinterest is still a good top-of-the-funnel channel to drive brand awareness. But if you are looking for a channel to improve performance, Pinterest may not be the best option.

Apple’s Device Ecosystem Multiplies its Brand Strength and Stickiness. Incredible stickiness of Apple products and ecosystem.

How Bed Bath & Beyond lost its suppliers’ trust, and doomed itself. Realizing that they had serious problems, Bed Bath & Beyond brought in a Target executive to save the day. The CEO wanted to push the company into omnichannel and private labels. While the new strategy might make sense, it was writing a check that the company’s infrastructure could not cash. Plus, I find it ridiculous that the Board authorized the buy-back program that unsettled critical supply partners and started the downward spiral into bankruptcy. A massive management failure of an iconic retail brand

($) The Boss Wants to Make You More Efficient. It’s important to identify areas where technology can make a difference and be more efficient. It’s equally important to determine whether what you are trying to make efficient is the right thing to do. That’s called effectiveness.

Other stuff I find interesting

($) Still Going Fast, Inflation Changes Drivers. A great article discussing the drivers of inflation. First, it was about the supply chain crisis. Then, the war in Ukraine happened. These days, services drive inflation

The EU has approved the world’s first carbon tax on imports. Everything is going to get pricier in Europe. “The carbon tax is part of a wider overhaul of the bloc’s carbon market that will require European industries to comply with strict emissions standards, making their products more expensive to produce. The tax is intended to ensure that the costlier, lower-carbon EU goods will not be undercut in price by those from countries with more lax rules on emissions. Any companies importing such products into the EU will be required to buy certificates to cover their carbon emissions, based on the volume of goods they bring in and the emissions footprint of those goods. The tax will also prevent manufacturers, hoping to evade the EU emissions standards, from moving operations to another country, and then sending their goods into the EU, a process known as “carbon leakage”. The carbon tax, to be phased in from 2026, will cover some of the most polluting industries: steel, aluminum, cement, fertilizer and electricity, as well as hydrogen. In the future, it could be expanded to include organic chemicals and polymers, including plastics.

Africa fell in love with crypto. Now, it’s complicated. I think this sums it up nicely. “Mohamed Taysir, co-founder and CEO of Egypt’s Singularity Finance, believes the trend of crypto startups closing down is driving attention away from the promise of quick money to more “beneficial use cases of blockchain.” Adepoju Adebowale, a 27-year-old crypto enthusiast from Nigeria, told Rest of World he once believed Africa and crypto were the perfect couple. However, the events of the last few months have forced him to change his mind. He said his crypto investments grew from 70,000 naira ($152) to 3 million naira ($6,514.23) within six months in 2021. Now, Adebowale has lost almost all of that money

The Italian farmers saving an ancient fruit with solar power. I hope the Italian government can support farmers in this endeavor. This is where some governmental subsidies can make a lot of difference, given how expensive it is to install solar panels on farms.


PetSmart has 60 million customers in its loyalty program

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that car dealer markups contributed between 0.3 and 0.7 percentage point of the nearly 16% rise in the consumer-price index between the end of 2019 and the end of 2022

iOS App Store has 101 million monthly active users in Europe

Nearly Half Of New Subs Find Netflix’s Ad Load ‘Heavy’. Source: MediaPost

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