Making perfume accessible. Coffee M&A targets. Lab-grown dairy.
CB Insights celebration

Office space

Hi there, 

We all know that brick-and-mortar retail is struggling. And beyond moving online, brands are seeking new offline channels for getting products into shoppers' hands as conveniently as possible. 

They're going to shoppers, rather than asking shoppers to go to them. 

And where are millennial shoppers, with disposable income, on a daily basis? 

They're at the office. 

CPG brands need to be there too. 

It's cliché by now to joke about the ping pong tables and nap pods filling Google's halls (not to mention Amazon's in-house dog park), but smaller offices are also increasingly stocking their fridges with healthy snacks, premium coffees, and other benefits. 

These perks help employers attract workers. Seamless, for example, got its start by helping banks and law offices convince their analysts to work through dinner. 

And now, real estate management companies, like WeWork, are using perks to attract employers themselves.

WeWork and other co-working spaces around the world have raised a whopping $7.8B since 2013, according to CB Insights data, and some portion of that VC money flows to Lola (for stocking bathrooms with tampons), La Croix (for thirsty millennials), and other brands. 

Photos taken in WeWork's Manhattan WeLive location, 5/22/18

Meet the new distributors

Incumbent food providers, like Aramark, tend to work with major brands. 

But now, we're seeing a new crop of startups delivering emerging CPG products to offices, helping these new brands a) get their foot in the door, and b) test out new products and flavors in a controlled environment. 

Snacknation, for example, works with startup brands like Quinn Popcorn and Hail Merry to distribute their snacks while providing data on "strategic sampling amongst affluent millennial dense offices." 

These new distributors might be acquisition targets for CPG leaders, who could access their network of offices as well as their stable of partnered brands. 

No more free lunch? 

More offices are buying products to provide to their employees for free; but we're also seeing the rise of actual pop-up shops installed in large offices or the lobbies of major office complexes.

In some ways, CPG office sales are a win-win-win. 

  • Employers want workers to stay in the office.
  • Brands want a bulk sale upfront (to the employer) and a captive audience (of employees), rather than waiting for shoppers to find them in stores. 
  • Employees want convenient ways to shop (no more after-work Walmart runs!)
Of course there are risks. Some employers might view in-office sales as a distraction, and employees might resent the strategy if it feels promotional rather than convenient. And many offices aren't big enough to become worthwhile points of sale. 

But looking forward, we could imagine the strategy working for makeup brands, apparel companies, and fitness and wellness products.

Companies could choose to host pop-ups that suit their workforce's needs. For example, WeWork previously partnered with J. Crew, while female-focused co-working space The Wing partnered with Chanel (below). 

The Wing is currently hiring a VP of "high-revenue" brand partnerships, signaling plans to expand its shop-in-office program. 

If you're a brand — looking to avoid the retailpocalypse, bypass retailers' private label products, and reach shoppers where they're at — do you have an office strategy? Let me know.

Stay hungry,


Deal of the Week

Cold brew coffee startup High Brew Coffee raised a $20M Series C, bringing total funding to $48M.

High Brew could be an appealing acquisition target for Nestle or JAB, which have both been building up their US coffee businesses M&A deals this year. We dove into JAB's activity here
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News & Views

Notable deals

Aiming for omnichannel. NewStore, a mobile platform for retail store associates, raised $20M, bringing total funding to $116M. Founded by the prior leader of Demandware (which sold to Salesforce for $2.8B), NewStore offers inventory management, mobile checkout, and other features.

Labs > cows. Perfect Day, a CA-based biotech startup producing lab-grown dairy proteins, raised $11.75M in debt. Perfect Day has raised $38M in total, including a $25M Series A this February.

Initially, Perfect Day had planned to launch a consumer product: cow-free milk. But recently, it pivoted to a B2B model, and now hopes to provide leading food companies with cow-free dairy ingredients. 

Is that a mushroom in my coffee? REBBL, an herbal beverage and cold brew coffee startup, raised $20M at a valuation "close to" $100M. REBBL uses almost painfully trendy ingredients that promise health benefits, such as reishi mushrooms, and it could also be an attractive acquisition target for Nestle, JAB, or other CPG or coffee leaders.

Cold juice, cold cash. Raw Pressery, a Mumbai-based cold-pressed juice delivery startup, raised $10M. It has raised $22M in total. 
Economic Times India

How refreshing. Scentbird, a subscription perfume startup based in New York, raised an $18.6M Series A last week. The startup reportedly has 250k+ subscribers across the US.
PR Newswire

Unilever goes D2C. Milkbasket, a grocery delivery startup in India, raised $7M, bringing total funding to $13M. Unilever Ventures participated in the round. 

Recent news & perspectives

Grab 'em by the stomach. Grocery is a difficult business, but Amazon doesn't view it as a stand-alone play. If Amazon can sell you food, it believes it can sell you anything.

Delivery wars. Kroger announced a partnership with European grocery e-commerce platform Ocado. Ocado has been a leader in warehouse automation, and Kroger will use the deal to expand its delivery options.

Retail wins. Urban Outfitters reported sales growth across all its brands. 
Retail Dive

Always watching. Retailers are increasingly working with facial recognition platforms, such as FaceFirst, to identify and track store visitors. 
And one more thing... 

We eat animals. But which animals like to bite back? 

Gizmodo takes a look at which animals kill the most humans.

Check it out. 

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