The Signal: The skincare sensitive community is getting specific. People are educating themselves on topics, including the differences between AHA and BHA — alpha hydroxy acid and beta hydroxy acid. If you’re wondering… they’re similar, but AHA is water soluble and works on the skin’s surface, while BHA is oil-based and penetrates deep into pores.
The searches don’t stop there: other chemicals like hyaluronic acid, retinol, l-cartinine, coq10, niacinamide, benzoyl peroxide, and tretinoin are getting hundreds of thousands of monthly searches, whereas vague terms like “acne cream” only get 40k.
The opportunity: People are becoming increasingly interested in what exactly they’re putting on their mug, with the subreddit r/skincareaddiction growing to over 1m followers and topping its beauty list. The community has been around for years, but saw a sharp increase in growth in 2018 when it began to grow at 1.2k subscribers/day, versus 416 in 2017 and 1-200 in prior years.
There’s more: Beauty brands that use marketing to educate and capitalize on this trend will get ahead. For example, specific brands like The Ordinary (whose slogan is “clinical formulations with integrity”) and Drunk Elephant have gotten consumer attention, with 6.6k searching for “the ordinary hyaluronic acid” and 9.9k for “drunk elephant retinol” each month.
2. This company raised $35m in 30 seconds
The signal: Brave, a privacy-first browser, is intent on disrupting Google’s business model through its unique advertising platform, which profit shares 70% of ad revenue. Unlike conventional ad programs, ad-matching is performed on the user’s device, never exposing people’s data to third parties.
The company is growing users at an exponential rate — it raised $35m in 30 seconds through an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) of its Basic Attention Token (BAT).
(Source: Brave Press Releases)
The opportunity: People are increasingly concerned with their privacy. Although Brave has effectively targeted the browser space, there are still a wealth of commonly used products that function off of selling or abusing user privacy. Products have even been made to help users identify these products, like No More Google.
3. How to capitalize on Airpods, which are making more money than Twitter and Shopify
The Signal: After killing the headphone jack, Apple graced the world with Airpods 3 years ago. Since then, the wearables product has quickly scaled to an estimated 60m sales in 2019, and over 100m since inception.
Assuming the original $159 price point, that would be $9.5B in revenue. Other analysts estimate this number to be closer to $12B due to the price point of Airpods Pro ($249). That means Airpods brought in more revenue than Twitter, Spotify, and Shopify, to name a few.
If Airpods were their own company, with $10B in annual revenue, they would be slightly larger than News Corp., a global media brand, according to this list of the world’s largest companies.
The opportunity: The hockey stick growth continues. In 2020, sales are expected to scale to 85m units, with room to grow across the 900m people using an iPhone. But unless you’re Samsung or Google, it’s unlikely that you’re going to develop the next Airpod. Instead, you can augment the already impressive market.
A few areas to pounce:
Track Apple patent filings on emerging tech to get a sense of what the “next Airpods” might be. Or, follow Jeff Morris Jr. (@JMJ) who goes through them for you. His latest hints include Project Titan, smart glasses, and audio devices with orientation.
The birth of the iPhone spawned a flood of iPhone accessories, from cases to rings. The same is true with Airpods. Away Kit placed #2 on Product Hunt last month with an Airpod Cleaning Kit (essentially $25 for some putty and wipes), and had to delay shipping due to such high demand. Other things Apple adopters are searching for:
The signal: Terms like “dentist SEO” picked up in volume in 2016, as dentists recognized that traditional patient acquisition (i.e., word of mouth, referrals) just wasn’t cutting it. Tackling the dentistry spaces was a perfect match for marketers, since the ROI on dental leads is so lucrative.
The opportunity: Dental-specific marketing agencies are cropping up to service the demand, as dentists move online. According to Ahrefs, the dental marketing guy captures $30k in organic traffic and ranks for hundreds of keywords including:
dental marketing (1.9k searches per month)
dental SEO (700 searches per month)
dental marketing agency (200 searches per month)
Of course, the holy grail of dental SEO is finding yourself as the top result in a localized search. We uncovered the top 10 cities per capita where people are searching for dentists. It would be worthwhile to consider what other industries have similar fundamentals: high-value leads, increasing digital search, and low friction for clients to switch services.
The Signal: Over the past decade, girls’ lacrosse was far and away the country’s fastest-growing high school sport. The sport saw a +54% change in participation from the end of 2009 through last year. Soccer and cross-country both notched double-digit participation gains over the same span but still pale in comparison to girls’ lacrosse.
The Opportunity: Lacrosse has become increasingly popular in recent years, and not just at the recreational level. Last year, a new 7-team professional men’s league launched (Premier Lacrosse League). Opportunities to capitalize on the increasing popularity of lacrosse include: 1) creating and/or selling apparel and equipment; 2) curating game tape for a new media play (lacrosse would have to be part of a larger offering, which could be sold to an existing media property or be the seedling for a new venture); 3) creating lacrosse-focused team sports getaways (e.g., youth tournament tours).
6. Electroforming: the next arts & crafts sensation?
The Opportunity: Electroforming goes back centuries and has been practiced by notable figures such as Thomas Editon and Michael Faraday. Today, the art echoes other “hipster”-inspired artisanal trades (e.g., woodwork, leatherwork), which consumers value for their distinctive and non-mass produced look. Opportunities around electroforming include: 1) creating electroforming kits; 2) selling electroform art and jewelry; 3) building an audience through how-to guides — and then selling people your kits and art.
7. The $600 massage gun hitting the spot
The Signal: Over the second half of 2019, a popular massage gun brand (www.theragun.com) saw a marked increase in the number of referring domains. The product is shaped like a futuristic laser blaster and is not cheap ($600). But its oscillating motion helps improve blood circulation and speed up workout recovery.
The Opportunity: The product had a viral moment in 2017, when then-Cleveland Cavs superstar Kyrie Irving received a Theragun treatment during the NBA Finals. In 2018, it was endorsed by the controversial NFL player Antonio Brown.
But site traffic has exploded in the past year. The massage gun space is seeing increased competition from the likes of Tim Tam, Hyperice, and Achedaway, among others. Opportunities in this space include: 1) affiliate ads via demand generation (blogs, reviews, how-to’s); 2) selling massage guns in Asian and European markets (where the trend has not taken off); 3) selling white label massage gun replacement parts and accessories (e.g., charging stands, batteries, balls).
8. The Anti-Signal*: Obstacle course racing faces a new obstacle
* Lots of you have asked for a breakdown of products or services whose popularity is in retreat. Here’s our first attempt at that.
The Anti-Signal: Last week, creditors of Tough Mudder filed an involuntary petition to push the obstacle course race (OCR) into bankruptcy. Founded in 2009, the firm has had over 5m people participate in its popular OCR events but has lost money in every year other than 2015, according to court filings.
Tough Mudder’s search interest in Google Trends has seen a steady decline over the past 5 years, an indicator of waning interest in its events. One of its competitors, Spartan Race, was in talks to potentially acquire Tough Mudder, but those plans are now on hold.
The Opportunity: The OCR space certainly has fervent fans (as your social media feed will happily tell you), but the sudden closure of Warrior Dash in 2019 and Tough Mudder’s plight does beg the question: Has OCR run its course?
If so, what will be the next competitive activity to capture our leisure imaginations? Something new like competitive gaming? Or variations on popular multi-sport endurance events (e.g., sprint triathlons, acquabike, duathlon relays).
Around the Web
How Credit Karma has built a $4B business by wooing Gen Z(Business Insider): The company best known for its free credit scores has built a powerful affiliate marketing arm and recently began offering high-yield savings accounts. Where’s it going next?
Fintechs target the world’s 1.8B Muslims (Sifted): Companies are rolling out new apps that adhere to Sharia law. They have their eyes on the massive Muslim population (20% of the world’s people, if you’re counting).
Can BlackRock go green? (Axios). The world’s largest asset manager announced a bold plan to “place sustainability at the center of our investment approach.”
Inside the numbers of American beverage consumption (WSJ): Wine consumption fell in 2019 for the first time in a quarter-century. What did well? Mainly ready-to-drink beverages (up 50%), including spiked seltzers and canned cocktails. Craft beer consumption was up 4.1% and non-alcoholic beer 6.6%. Hard liquor sales climbed 2.3%, with mezcal, tequila, cognac, and bourbon especially on the rise.
Another reason to be bullish about plant-based meats (The Atlantic): This is an argument “that plants are becoming the fourth meat” if innovation continues at a fast enough pace to keep giving Americans enough new choices of plant-based meat substitutes on the menu.
Are Lime layoffs a worrying sign for micromobility? (TechCrunch): Lime announced it was laying off about 14% of its workforce and withdrawing from 12 markets, including Phoenix and Atlanta. This comes after Bird laid off 5% of its employees last March and other Lyft scaled back its micromobility. These moves have been made to get the companies closer to profitability, but their success hinges on various public factors, too.
Away CEO, who resigned under controversy, will return (NYT): Steph Korey left her job at Away last month after The Verge published an article in which employees accused her of creating a toxic workplace. The company has announced Korey will now return as co-CEO, with board members saying the story was inaccurate and the company gave in to the “Twitter mob.”
San Franciscans aren’t ready for robot restaurants yet (Business Insider): With a wealthy population, vaunted culinary scene, and VC money galore, SF would seem to be the best place to launch restaurants where robots act as line cooks and other positions. But several of these restaurants are already failing, with some, like Eatsa and Zume, pivoting to businesses focused on tech services for the food industry.
This week’s Trends send was brought to you by Mark Dent, Steph Smith, and Brad Wolverton. Let us know what you think by hitting the Smileys below.