Today in Retail: Industry Touts Resilience

Today in retail, in-car karaoke and rearview selfies could soon become summer road trip staples, while consumer staples are enjoying an increased demand. Plus, Hasbro promises shareholders they will see transformation if they’re patient with the current board of directors, retailers are dealing with an inventory surplus and ice cream trucks are getting a high-tech upgrade.

From Personal Care to Pet Care to Energy Drinks, the Fringe of Staples Category Heats Up

Tucked in beside the likes of Walmart, Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and a host of other consumer staples companies that provide the food, toilet paper and toothpaste-type essentials of daily living, a sub-sector of incredible proportion — and most recently outperformance — are riding a wave of demand for personal care products.

The largely female and highly loyal legion of consumers who regularly buy cosmetics, hair care and skin products are showing an unwavering commitment to beauty essentials — as well as an unwillingness to compromise.

While Beauty Health’s stock is still down almost 40% year to date due to concerns about supply and demand being impacted by prolonged pandemic lockdowns in China, its shares have enjoyed a 50% rebound in the past few weeks as investors take a fresh look at a niche company and category. Meanwhile, L’Oreal — with a $190 billion market value — had followed a similar trend line with a 30% year-to-date decline followed by a near-term, double-digit bounce in its shares from an 18-month low.

Angi Looks to Extend Recent Momentum, Revisits Rebrand to Boost Awareness

Angi’s stock is up more than 50% since it bottomed out on May 9, and the internet-based home services company launched a pair of ad campaigns Monday (May 31) that emphasize that momentum and confirm last year’s rebrand from Angie’s List has been a success.

Angi will push out its new ad campaign by dedicating almost one-third of its ad spend in the next few weeks, the company said in its announcement, including broadcasting it on Tubi, Roku, Hulu, NBC, ABC and CBS, among others.

In March, Angi called on A-list actor Ryan Reynolds’ Maximum Effort creative agency to produce a series of three 30-second spots that rely on autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) to get viewers’ attention. ASMR is a media production technique that relies on whispering and other highly mic’d sounds and tightly shot images to deliver what Google Trends referred to as a sedative “brain massage.”

As Stock Lags, Hasbro Urges Shareholders to Await Transformation

With play and entertainment company Hasbro’s stock down almost 15% so far this year, company officials are urging patience for their shareholders ahead of a 2022 Annual Meeting June 8 that will include a vote for the board of directors. Shareholders can vote for their preferred board members by internet, phone or mail, according to a Monday (May 31) letter from company leaders.

Hasbro leadership promised “disciplined capital allocation, strong corporate governance and advising and supporting Chris as he conducts his full assessment of our business and implements his vision for Hasbro and the company’s future strategies, with the fundamental goal of delivering strong shareholder returns” in its letter eight days before the board vote.

Among the nominees touted by activist investor Alta Fox is Marcelo Fisher, who Hasbro characterized in its letter to shareholders as a “spinoff specialist” who would disrupt the company from its “go-forward strategy” and advocate for selling all or part of the company. Alta Fox is pushing to oust three members of Hasbro’s board, including the chairman, in the June 8 vote.

Widespread Reports of ‘Resilience’ Lift Hopes in Battered Retail Industry

The parade of retail executives invoking “resilience” in their earnings reports last week was as long as it was diverse. In what was a literal stream of verbal confidence, leader after leader offered fresh business insights from a range of retail categories, telling analysts, in short, that consumers would bend but not break.

The guidance from an industry so closely tied to the heartbeat of the economy, where consumer spending accounts for three-quarters of all activity, provided a lift to an industry that has been under siege for more than a month, and drifting lower for the past six. The “resilience refrain” was the same, whether it was coming from pet stores, apparel designers, auto parts, cosmetics or dollar stores.

While this emerging industry outlook offered a refreshing narrative change, it is by no means an “all clear” signal that the present mix of macroeconomic challenges is over. If anything, the message was grounded in the fact that unlike the complete shutdown of March 2020 where everything simply halted, the current scenario is far more nuanced.

Ice Cream Trucks Get High-Tech Digital Payments Upgrade

Consumers don’t have to wait anymore for the distorted music box tunes coming through their neighborhood to know when ice cream will be brought to them. In addition to all the ice cream available on third-party delivery platforms, U.K.-based consumer packaged goods (CPG) giant Unilever is rethinking the ice cream truck with multiple robotic upgrades.

In early May, the company announced a partnership with Robomart, which creates mobile stores that are hail-able in the style of Uber or Lyft, to offer on-demand ice cream from Unilever brands — including Ben & Jerry’s, Talenti, and Breyers — in an initiative called The Ice Cream Shop.

On Wednesday (May 25), Unilever announced an extension of this digital storefront in partnership with drone delivery company Flytrex to offer ice cream delivery via skyway in all the markets in which Flytrex operates (Holly Springs, Fayetteville; Raeford, North Carolina; and Granbury, Texas).

Coming Soon to a Vacation Near You: In Car-Karaoke, Rearview Selfies

Long road trips will seem a little shorter with the addition of some future technology that will make the drive more enjoyable. These features are either being developed or currently available for automakers to install in future vehicles.

Drivers who want to sing in the car will be able to select an instrumental track without taking their eyes off the road. Offered by Cerence, this karaoke experience is integrated with the vehicle’s automotive assistant so the driver can choose from 100,000 songs while using only their voice. Dubbed “Cerence Sing,” this feature is to make its debut on vehicles from VinFast, a maker of electric vehicles that will begin selling them in the U.S. later this year.

With another future tech, passengers can turn the vehicle’s cabin into a communications center in which they can make video calls or take selfies. Gentex offers a system that does so with a camera integrated into the rearview mirror, behind the glass, part of a driver and cabin monitoring system that also performs other tasks such as tracking the driver to see if they are distracted, drowsy or ready for the return of manual control in a semi-autonomous vehicle.

Retail Inventories Swell as Shoppers Cut Back, Driving Discounts

U.S. retailers can’t seem to hit the right balance of stocking their shelves — they previously were scrambling to fill them, and now they have so much merchandise that they face a surplus, so many must now start discounting unsold goods.

This could be a new frontier of troubles for the market, with soaring gas prices and inflation already giving them woes. Consumers’ tastes have been undergoing shifts, too, which also leads to too much merchandise and more forced discounts.

Average retail inventories have been rising at a quick clip. Research from Citi said 11 of the 18 retailers they studied showed inventories rising by 10% more than sales in their first quarter results — the biggest gap since the pandemic began.



About: PYMNTS’ survey of 2,094 consumers for The Tailored Shopping Experience report, a collaboration with Elastic Path, shows where merchants are getting it right and where they need to up their game to deliver a customized shopping experience.

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