There was a brief period in the early 2010’s when a new business model – dubbed “direct to consumer” emerged and threatened to upend established incumbents. A decade or so in, the assumptions underlying the model are in tatters and we’ve come to realize, as we always should have, that Strategy 101 still applies.
Great piece Rita. I use the Casper story in my MBA Strat class and much the same narrative ... if it's easy and cheap for you, what makes you think others won't copy the model.
The other part of this is something Rumelt writes about in his latest book Crux ... sometimes you can see these will ultimately fail for lack of advantage, but they can have a moment in the sun where they look great, and early investors can earn windfall profits.
I pinched a line from somewhere ... if you thinks the laws of economics don't apply, think again.
Love your stories
Rita, To what extent can brand management solve this problem? When I worked on Tide at P&G, we considered it the “clothes washing miracle” by which we meant that we wanted our customer, Mom, to always have the most effective solution for washing clothes. It started as the first synthetic clothes washing detergent powder, added enzymatic and biological stain removal capabilities, was reformulated for automatic washing machines, and then reimagined as a liquid and then as pods. Through all this change, Tide brand was always the clothes washing miracle. It was the ship of Theseus. Each successive product advantage was transient, but the brand was lasting (with the help, of course, of well-established distribution, retailer relationships, and all the other elements you write about). HH