Water Sales Slow, TikTok School Clubs, Amazon Search Marketshare, Flipkart Enters Food Retail in India, Non Alcoholic Alternatives to Wine, Lego Rental Model, Anti Hard Seltzer, Growth of Microbrands

Covering commerce daily from Amazon to Zulily.

Nestlé to Refresh Bottled-Water Business as Sales Turn Flat

The world’s biggest bottled-water maker is overhauling that business as the industry navigates big consumer shifts—from the rise of sparkling water to a backlash against single-use plastic.

Updated Oct. 17, 2019 10:59 am ET Nestlé SA, NSRGY -0.89% the world’s biggest bottled-water maker, is overhauling that business as the industry navigates big consumer shifts —from the rise of sparkling water to a backlash against single-use plastic. Those issues are challenging Nestlé’s core water brands, including Poland Spring and Pure Life, with price rises to offset higher costs further eroding volumes.

High Schools to TikTok: We’re Catching Feelings

Teens love the app, and now it’s getting the stamp of approval with teacher-approved clubs. Did school just get ... fun?

Amanda was referring to a different kind of stardom: on TikTok, a social media app where users post short funny videos, usually set to music , that is enjoying a surge in popularity among teenagers around the world and has been downloaded 1.4 billion times, according to SensorTower.

Whitesboro High School in New York incorporated TikTok memes like VSCO girls — slang for a subculture involving a lifestyle of scrunchies, Hydroflasks and environmentalism — into homecoming week theme.

Amazon Takes U.S. Search Ad Share From Google

This year, Amazon will take 12.9% paid-search market share in the U.S. The company surpassed Microsoft in 2018 to become the second-largest ad platform in the U.S. Microsoft, which now ranks No. 3, follows with 6.5%. Verizon Media ranks No. 4 at 2%. Yelp ranks No. 5 at 1.8%.

Capturing mindshare doesn’t necessarily require consumers to make a purchase. Mobile represents an increase in share of total U.S. digital ad spending, reaching 67.3% this year.

Havenly Raises $32 Million in Series C Funding

The interior design service's latest funding will support the launch of a private-label collection and more

"We have the benefit of seeing hundreds of thousands of room designs come through our platform, and from that we learn what our customers like [and] dislike, and what they wish was offered at a new price point," Havenly CEO and cofounder Lee Mayer tells AD PRO.

According to the brand, the series C will also support improved technology for its central platform, which connects designers with consumers for a virtual session that can tackle a full-room makeover (currently priced at $99) or a partial refresh ($69).

Walmart’s Flipkart confirms it is entering the food retail business in India – TechCrunch

India’s Flipkart is entering the food retail business as the e-commerce giant looks to expand its reach in the nation, its chief executive said on Tuesday. Flipkart, which sold majority stake in the company to Walmart for $16 billion last year, has registered an entity called “Flipkart Farmer…

India’s Flipkart is entering the food retail business as the e-commerce giant looks to expand its reach in the nation, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

The U.S. retail giant could help Flipkart with charting out the play for how it should source and maintain the supplies and how to improve margins, the research firm said.

Why all sommeliers need to learn about non-alcoholic alternatives to wine

Sommeliers and bartenders should be able to recommend non-alcoholic beverages to pair with food just as they can with wine, beer or spirits, according to the next generation of drinks entrepreneurs.

Claire Warner, a veteran of luxury goods group LVMH, joined Seedlip last year to help develop a sister brand of non-alcoholic drinks designed to be paired with food.

Laura Willoughby, the founder of mindful drinking initiative Club Soda, who hosted the summit on Tuesday, said that bars and restaurants “had been more receptive” to further education on low ABV beers, but there was still “a way to go” when it comes to alternatives to wine or spirits.

Realtime Robotics scores $11.7M Series A to help robots avoid collisions – TechCrunch

One of the major challenges facing engineers as they develop more agile robots is helping them move through space while avoiding collisions, especially in a dynamic environment. Realtime Robotics, a Boston-based startup, announced an $11.7 million Series A investment to help solve this problem. SPA…

One of the major challenges facing engineers as they develop more agile robots is helping them move through space while avoiding collisions, especially in a dynamic environment.

SPARX Asset Management led the round, with participation from some strategic investors, including Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Hyundai Motor Company and Omron Ventures.

Lego considers rental scheme as it seeks to reduce plastic waste

Lego is considering a brick rental scheme in an attempt to cut down on plastic waste.

Lego has come under increasing pressure to reduce its carbon footprint amid growing international alarm about the impact of plastic waste on the environment.

The green trees, plants and flowers were first included in Lego sets late last year but comprise only one - two per cent of the total amount of plastic elements produced.

The case against hard seltzer

Alcopops were fun and very obviously not good for you. But hard seltzer, this summer’s hottest tipple, is an apology of a drink

Sales of the drinks, with twee names like Truly (#livetruly) and Bon & Viv, fizzed by 169% in 2018, with consumers lured by a low calorie count, bouji flavour combinations (lime lemongrass, clementine hibiscus) and Instagrammable labels.

By essentially spiking La Croix, the upmarket sparkling water that aspirational twenty-somethings obsess over, the makers of hard seltzer have cynically exploited the “wellness” trend, positioning their drinks as a salubrious way to get steaming drunk on a sunny afternoon.

The growth of microbrands threatens consumer-goods giants

Often the giants’ best and only response is to acquire them

Shopify handles the back-end infrastructure that would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to build, says Steven Mazur, one of the founders of Ash & Erie, a brand of clothing for short men.

Unilever bought Dollar Shave Club, a subscription service for razor blades and now-canonical microbrand, for $1bn in 2016, grabbing the market share the upstart had itself snatched from Gillette.

The Designers Making Sex Toys Less Embarrassing

Would you proudly display your lube if it came in a beautiful bottle?

Launched in 2018, Maude sells oatmeal-colored packages of natural latex condoms , massage oil candles “with warming notes of amber, cedar leaf, lemongrass, tonka bean and medjool date,” and an unassuming, off-white vibrator that wouldn’t look out of place in a Muji store.

A stainless steel butt plug with a giant aquamarine gem at the end ( available on Ebay ) might make someone feel like they’re starring in an X-rated version of Titanic , where a more understated product from the men’s health startup Hims might say: Sex is a normal thing that you do with your body.

7 perfect suitcases . . . that aren’t made by Away

Having trouble distinguishing your Away suitcase from all the others at the airport? Try one of these instead.

A family atelier in Japan, Porter-Yoshida & Co. was founded after Kichizo Yoshida stuffed his belongings in a sack, tied the ends, and slung the strings over his shoulder—creating his first backpack design while trying to escape the Great Canto earthquake in 1923.

The larger-size wheels give the bag better balance and traction, lash points are reinforced with coated daisy chains for durability and longevity, and a Sherpa strap allows you to join any duffel or backpack you have to the face of the roller for a one-system carry.

A former app economy wunderkind is now aiming to disrupt the venture world with his own investment company, and he's using Facebook ads as his secret weapon

John Meyer became an entrepreneur in high school and went on to be a Thiel Fellow. Now he aiming to shake up the early-stage venture business.

Meyer, a serial entrepreneur who was early to the app revolution, has developed a way of using Facebook ads to figure out demand and customer-acquisition costs before startups even launch their products.

The tech industry and broader society are on the cusp of seeing massive changes thanks to new technologies such as artificial intelligence, Meyer told Business Insider in a recent interview.

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