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The Merchant Life Newsletter

Influence Doesn’t Grow A Business

By February 21, 2024April 17th, 2024No Comments

“An emaciated, predatory tiger as the logo.”

On a sports podcast I was listening to, that was the comment made in reaction to the launch of Sun Day Red. In case you haven’t heard, Sun Day Red is the new apparel brand of golf legend, Tiger Woods.

We took a closer look at the brand and from our POV, it didn’t spark much inspiration. We also wondered what feedback was used to help create and assort the collection.

There are many examples of athletes, celebrities, and other figures of influence launching a brand. This could be apparel, beauty and/or supplement brands.

They start hot out of the gate, with lots of hype. But, without a firm grasp on retail and product development fundamentals, they risk fading away.

The story of Something Navy serves as a cautionary tale. Influencer Arielle Charnas launched the brand with much acclaim and excitement. It didn’t take long before the hype fizzled out. What was once touted as a potential $100 million brand burned cash to grow and rapidly lost favor with customers.

So, I got to thinking. I drew out a chart to show the relationship between the influence and the strength of retail fundamentals. The conclusions aren’t earth-shattering but need to be highlighted.

You see, if I have no social influence or an understanding of retail and I want to launch a brand, I just have an idea. With social influence and no fundamentals, I have a bunch of hype. With fundamentals and no influence, I am a skilled unknown.

Influence plus strong retail fundamentals means I have a chance to propel my brand to grow. I don’t have to be the next Tory Burch, but I better be good at surrounding myself with the people who know what I don’t.

There is no doubt that these types of businesses can be and are successful; Savage x Fenty is an example. The challenge is to recognize that influence can be a powerful catalyst to start a business, but it doesn’t run (or grow) one.