Retail Ramblings Podcast

Episode #4 - Made in America

Episode Highlights:

  • Retail winners. This week’s retail winners are Clorox and e.l.f. Cosmetics. We explore how these top retail brands are growing their footprints and setting themselves apart from the competition.
  • Retail losers. We take a look at this week’s retail losers, which include Non-American brands and NARS cosmetics. We provide commentary around what these well-known retail brands can be doing to bounce back after some disappointing announcements.
  • The retail roadmap. We discuss the latest trends dictating the future of retail.
  • Data dive. We talk about some interesting uses of data, and show how community-driven beauty is making its debut.

Listen to Episode 4:

Show Notes

Retail Winners & Losers


Winner: Clorox

  • Clorox Chief Executive Officer Benno Dorer has claimed the number one position of America’s highest rated CEO in 2017, according to a poll by Glassdoor.
  • He received a 99 percent approval rating from his staff after having served the company in the role since 2014, where he joined from Procter & Gamble.
  • In the poll he was praised for his leadership qualities and ability to invest in a culture of growth and career development, Dorer initially joined Clorox to work on its laundry, home care and international businesses while also being instrumental in the company branching out in natural beauty with the purchase of Burt’s Bees.
  • Did you know that Burt’s Bees was under Clorox?
  • Clorox CEO Benno Dorer named America’s ‘highest rated CEO


Losers: Non-American brands


Category Overseas Brands US Brands
Power Tools Bosch Power Tools (Germany)

Makita (Japan)

Ryobi (Japan)

Stanley Black & Decker (New Britain, Connecticut)

DeWalt Tools (Maryland)

Vacuum Cleaners Dyson (Britain) Hoover (North Canton, Ohio)
Appliances LG

Fisher Paykel



Building Materials Drywall – James Hardie Drywall – Continental Building
Outdoor Hasqvarna – Sweden

Honda Lawn Mowers

John Deere

Troy-Bilt (MTD)


  • Home improvement retailers are emphasizing ‘made in america’ products, meaning that products made overseas stand to lose out, particularly in independent hardware dealers
  • Hitting home with consumers selling American products
  • Retailers adding more ‘made in america’ in the last 2 years in comparison to the period prior to that (76% retailers have done it)
  • Openly promoting these ‘made in america’ products, particularly at the register and through store signage (79% of retailers)
  • 73% don’t believe manufacturers do enough to promote that their products are made in America
  • Under the impression their customers are willing to spend more on the products
  • Study shows that this expected behaviour is actually reality
  • 65% say American made products are moderately to extremely important when choosing a product
  • The amount consumers are willing to pay is affected as well – 72 percent are willing to spend more money on items that are made in America. In fact, 32 percent say they’re willing to spend 10 percent or more on a product if it is American-made.
  • ⅔ retailers have noticed consumers seeking out american retailers
  • Walmart recently implemented program to find more US based suppliers
  • 10 year $250 billion more in American made products by 2023
  • What is authentically American?
    • Examples: DeWalt tools – manufactured in the US with overseas parts (such as the li-ion battery). Forced to get these products from overseas as there’s no capabilities in the states
    • Milwaukee products – owned by TTI who a hong-kong based company
  • Effects on product quality, both positive and negative
  • Effects on price





Winner: e.l.f Cosmetics


  • This year alone, e.l.f.’s sales have increased by 20 percent, coming on the heels of the company’s initial public offering in September 2016
  • As part of its growth, it’s expanded to a number of retailers, including Target, Walmart and Ulta Beauty
  • Also launched standalone stores in select cities
  • Recently launched a new skin-care collection online: “Beauty Shield”
    • It’s all about finding ways to protect your skin against environmental factors while showing your beauty.
  • Behind the Instagram with e.l.f. global artistic director Achelle Richards


Loser: NARS Cosmetics


  • NARS, taken from the founder Francois Nars in 1994.
  • brand was going back on its cruelty-free stance in order to enter and develop in the Chinese market
  • June 27th, China, North America
  • Alienated many of the brands fans who support the brand due to their ardent anti-animal testing
  • Significant backlash on social media
  • Significant bad press (BBC, Cosmopolitan)
  • Important ramifications for brands looking to expand to China. What’s the trade off and what is it worth? Losing access to a market worth $29 billion
  • Interesting considering other major players sell into China including:
    • L’Oreal
    • Estee Lauder
    • Shiseido
    • Proctor & Gamble
  • Big loser because a central part of their brand is that they’re cruelty free
  • Where does this leave brands looking to expand into the emerging Chinese market when they are forced to test on animals?
  • Are brands considered cruelty free those who stand to lose



The Retail Roadmap

Omnichannel and Brick and Mortar


    • Stores are the future of retail
    • E-commercing is informing how we shop
    • Vistaprint in Toronto
      • Customers want a physical store to see business cards, posters etc.
    • Alibaba in China
      • 2.6 bil acquisition of intime in China
    • M.Gemi
      • Realtime data from designers and supply chain, adjust demand accordingly
      • Disrupting luxury by informing offline from online
    • Other examples:
      • Warby Parker
      • Bonobos
    • Physical stores create a comprehensive, interactive and consistent environment online and in-store
    • Experiential is central to in-store: “It really has to do with these retailers who thought they would never change and refused to disrupt their own business.”


  • Combination between both strategies = success



Data dive

 Community-driven beauty

  • Volition is an online crowdsourcing platform that empowers real people to submit ideas for beauty products they have been searching for, thereby looping in the customer from the very beginning of product development.
  • Users are encouraged to submit their own ideas for beauty products, vote on other ideas and shop products created by people like them.
  • Volition Innovators are partnered with top labs and chemists across the country to create their dream products and are involved in the development each step of the way.
  • Only the most supported and best products are made.
  • Volition uses the power of community to create beauty products that are not only high-quality and effective, but are what the consumer truly wants.
  • Launching on on August 8th and in select stores in September.
  • We’ve talked about Sephora quite a bit on Retail Ramblings and this partnership makes perfect sense -Sephora is passionate about community and had a deep appreciation for the power of engagement.
  • The partnership with Volition gives Sephora the ability to delve further into the tech-savvy consumer psyche and offering more personalized experiences for its customers, a strategic focus for the company at present.
  • Volition to Launch at Sephora This Summer
  • Sephora to host Volition crowdsourcing site in a bid to engage consumers