March 2021 Monthly News Roundup

We are pleased to share with you our roundup for March 2021. This month we highlight the enhancement of interactive digital capabilities for shoppers and the bright future of alternative proteins.


The public and private markets continued to thrive in March with a variety of IPOs across different sectors. In its first couple days of trading, South Korean e-commerce giant, Coupang, saw its shares rise just over 46% to more than $51 after its initial pricing of $35. Restaurant technology firm, Olo, also had a successful IPO as it saw its shares rise 39% in its public market debut. The company initially priced shares at $25, raising about $450M at a valuation of $3.6B. In the edtech sector, Coursera set an initial IPO price range between $30 and $33, signaling the positive sentiment for edtech in the market. This month, some of the most noteworthy deals included Square's purchase of a majority stake in the music streaming service, Tidal, for $297M, OTB's acquisition of Jil Sander from the Japanese conglomerate Onward Holdings for an undisclosed sum, and investment holding company, Exor's, 24% stake in Christian Louboutin. L'Oréal also bought a minority stake in environmental tech start-up Gjosa. Notable investments this month included: Coupang ($3.5B), delivery service GoPuff ($1.15B), financial services company Stripe ($600M), 'soundtrack to the internet' company Epidemic Sound ($450M), Squarespace ($300M)  Instacart ($265M), venture studio Atomic ($260M),  primary care start-up Forward Health (225M), second-hand fashion platform Vestaire Collective ($216M), Cannabis technology platform Dutchie ($200M), animal alternatives company Eat Just ($200M), cultured meat start-up Meatable ($47M), indoor strawberry vertical farmer Oishii ($50M), virtual showroom company Nuorder ($45M), DTC furniture startup Tylko ($26M), interactive e-commerce Maestro ($15M), and farmland modernizer AcreTrader ($12M). 


The Enhancement of Interactive Digital Capabilities for Shoppers 


As more retail shoppers aim to convert browsers into shoppers via a digital-first approach, many brands and retailers are investing in new digital capabilities in order to broaden the retail experience for its consumers. Italian fashion house, Gucci, collaborated with Belarus-based augmented reality company, Wanna, in order to debut a digital sneaker which is available to purchase for $11.99 on Gucci's app or $8.99 on Wanna's app. So far, Wanna's technology has been used by Farfetch, Puma, Snapchat, and Reebok. The rise in online gaming and the continued boom of e-commerce has contributed to the popularity of digital-only products and points to how AR technology will soon be integrated into brands and online shops, providing an alternative to photos for a more engaging experience that is closer to an offline shopping experience. Another example of the focus on interactive capabilities for shoppers is Anthropologie's  move to debut its first digital-only catalog on Pinterest, allowing consumers to conveniently purchase products on Pinterest, a platform  that consumers already use to collect inspiration and images via pinboards. As an extension of the more than 50 virtual events that Nordstrom has hosted this year, Nordstrom also announced a shoppable livestream platform that will allow consumers to participate in a live chat in any pre-recorded fashion, beauty, or skincare presentations from Nordstrom's fashion experts and brand representatives. These recent development in digital capabilities show that, although consumers are becoming increasingly more comfortable with returning to brick-and-mortar stores, digital retail still reigns supreme and brands recognize the benefits of experimenting with new interactive methods to provide consumers with a digital experience that ensures that products are represented and shared in captivating manners.


The Bright Future of Alternative Proteins


According to analysis by The Good Food Institute, a record breaking $3.1 billion was invested in alternative proteins in 2020, which is more than half of the total $5.9 billion that was invested into this sector throughout the last decade. This enormous confidence and growth in alternative proteins come as more investors support cutting edge companies in the food tech sector in order to create a more sustainable way of eating and purchasing food products. This past year has shone light on the outdated food supply chains in the US and the increased focus on sustainability has catapulted sustainable methods of cultivating food to the forefront. Many plant based pioneers note that this sector has only just gotten started and as new technology develops and consumer behaviors shift, alternative proteins will only continue to grow. In fact, leaders in the sector predict that the alternative protein market including meat, eggs, dairy, and seafood, will reach $290 billion in value by 2035 and alternative proteins will account for 11% of all proteins sold. In addition the the multiple notable investments in the food tech sector this month, the latest IPO announcement comes from the vertical farming operator, AeroFarms, which announced its plans to go public via a SPAC. 

If you don't already, follow us on Instagram @theretailsafari as we highlight some of our favorite brands and concepts and take you with us on our retail safaris in NYC and beyond. We wish everyone health and safety during these trying times.