Brands Built to Thrive in the Changed World

By Sonal Gandhi
Chief Content Officer at The Lead

The Foremost 50 list of 2024 represents brands that have come of age in the last 4 years – times that can only be described as turbulent – where demand has see-sawed, supply chains have been constrained and consumer preferences have been significantly altered. This class of 2024 has come out stronger, as a result, and better prepared to take on a post-pandemic world. These brands have the following winning traits in common:

Built with intentionality – A straightforward value proposition that consumers can latch onto combined with a clear relatable message has helped these brands resonate with early consumers. But as they expanded outwards from the core, these businesses have been very intentional about launching new products or markets. They have had the advantage of learning from the mistakes of those that have come before. And a lack of easy money and operating in an uncertain market has also helped them take a very considered approach to growth. 

Marketing Savvy – Having grown up for the most part in the post IOS-14 world has meant that these brands had to rely on word-of-mouth, Tik Tok virality and customer communities to raise brand awareness. Many of these brands still use paid social to acquire customers but many have a reduced reliance on the channel and are constantly testing creative and messaging on these platforms to maximize ROI.

Focused on Profitable Growth – Many brands on our list have raised very little to no outside capital. Even those who have raised venture dollars, face a very different set of expectations from the investors than their predecessors. Positive unit economics and profitability are big imperatives for young brands which has forced them to grow slower than a previous generation of D2C brands. Many have spent the last year or two focused on profitability over growth and those that are profitable are extremely proud of this accomplishment.

Pragmatic Approach to Channel Expansion – Many of the brands on the list have realized early in their growth journeys that wholesale can be a profitable way to expand. A few have a significant presence in large-scale retailers like Target, Walmart, Amazon, and Ulta, while others have partnered with specialty retailers like Container Store or URBN. Large retailers also know that they need young brands to attract a younger set of customers. However, the brand-retailer relationship still tilts a bit towards large retailers that are often the ones initiating these partnerships.

Stores and pop-ups are also part of the expansion plans for brands on the list. “As brands look to grow their business, they recognize that stores and pop-ups play a crucial role in consumers’ lives. Consumers are looking for physical experiences to delight them, help them discover something new and give them a reason to look up from their screens. For young brands physical retail is a way to make the brand more real and create memorable moments with the customers” according to Erin McCarthy, Vice President and Head of National Retail Development for Brookfield Properties and a Foremost 50 2024 selection committee member. Having their own stores is a critical milestone for many brands on the list, and while a few of the brands are there today many others are hoping to get there soon.

Foremost 50 of 2024 Deliver on New Consumer Preferences

Trends that were emerging before 2020 are now fully mainstream. Brands on our 2024 list are thriving because they have tapped into the zeitgeist and are giving consumers what they want now. Collectively, these brands represent the current consumer priorities, mainly – flexibility in where they work; need for comfort and pampering; spiritual, physical and emotional wellbeing for themselves, their pets and their friends and family; accessible craftsmanship, design and quality; and care for the planet and the people making products they use.

Knowing that they have the right product market fit for the current times makes these brands quite optimistic. One of the executives we interviewed for the list described this moment in time as – “Destiny is in our hands. If we fail, it would be because we didn’t set up the right team or culture or make the right decisions.”

Brookfield Properties believes retail should be anything but typical. It’s why they integrate shopping, dining, entertainment, and more to reimagine retail experiences everywhere – from The Shops at La Cantera in San Antonio, and Shops at Merrick Park in Coral Gables, to Ala Moana Center in Honolulu. Because for Brookfield Properties, retail isn’t just about managing properties or redeveloping malls. It’s about creating spaces that draw consumers in and inspire communities. And, more than anything, it’s about bringing people together. Learn more at https://www.brookfieldproperties.com/

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