Analyst’s Take: What’s the Value of a Brand?

One of the most interesting things that happened this week was the launch of brandless.com, the well-funded startup that takes the “big brands are irrelevant” and “who needs traditional retailers to launch anything?” phenomena to their natural conclusion. In this post, the influential blog Well and Good states, in its typical breathless and “I’m your best girlfriend” fashion:

“The just-launched Brandless is like if [Japanese retailer] Muji and the dollar store had a wellness love child. Everything at the online grocery store is priced at just $3 (or less!). Seriously. That includes both health and superfood basics (like organic oats and honey granola), buzzier items like sea salt quinoa chips and organic agave nectar, and home and beauty essentials like EPA-certified dish soap and organic cotton rounds. (Plus you can outfit a kitchen in no time—with not that much moolah—with Brandless’ $3 plates, bowls, knives, and more.)”

The Well and Good article includes an interview with one of the Brandless founders, who said: “Consumers are forced to pay what we call the brand tax, and that brand tax is the unfair sort of inefficiency in the current system.”

Here’s a brief and very fun article that serves as a reminder of how brands were created until very, very recently.

Separately, speaking of brands, here’s an article about Nike’s “plan to hold down its turf with women.” The article contains an egregious error, stating that Flyknit caused Nike’s net income to spike 40% in the 3 months after it was released, when of course Flyknit was a factor, but not the sole one. I, therefore, take the entire article with a grain of salt, but still think it’s worth reading, as it details some of unprecedented challenges that the brand faces, and also discusses the company’s market research efforts, a far cry from the company’s longtime policy of telling consumers what they want, rather than asking them.

Faye Landes, co-founder and general partner of Back to the Future Ventures, advises emerging consumer and retail companies on strategy, branding and fundraising. She was one of Wall Street’s leading consumer and retail analysts for over 20 years and was widely recognized for her ability to anticipate sweeping trends, such as the widespread adoption of activewear. She has frequently appeared on CNBC, Bloomberg TV and other media outlets and has presented at industry conferences all over the world. Read her “Analyst’s Take” column here weekly. Contact her at faye@backtothefutureventures.com.

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