Rank #1: Skinny Jeans Are Killing the Fashion Industry
Skinny jeans have dominated the denim world for 10 long years and the fashion industry has had enough. Apparel companies are eager for pant styles to change, prompting customers to spend more on updating their entire wardrobe. Yet the skinny silhouette has serious staying power, according to Nancy Zhang, chief operating officer of New York boutique chain Otte. Sid and Ann Mashburn, who own a retail chain, describe how skinny became a style staple, from denim to athletic apparel to menswear. And Bloomberg's Matt Townsend bets the time has come for skinnies to meet their end. Are trends finally starting to show signs of change?
Aug 08 2016
Rank #2: Movie Theaters Want You Back, So They're Rushing to Modernize
For many people, going to movies in the theater is more of a hassle than a joy -- why sit in an uncomfortable chair and spend upwards of $10 to get a ticket, plus the cost of popcorn and a drink? As the number of shows on television and subscription services surges and home theater systems improve, it takes a lot to get customers to leave their homes.
Lindsey Rupp and Jenny Kaplan talk with Anousha Sakoui, who covers the cinema and film industry for Bloomberg, about how the movie theaters industry got into this mess and the challenges that face them in regaining media dominance. Some startups, like MoviePass, which allows subscribers to see a movie every day for a month for $9.95 per month, are trying to getting customers to go to more films by offering them “bad-movie insurance,” says Chief Executive Officer Mitch Lowe. Cinemark, the third-largest movie chain, is also offering a subscription service and upgrading its theaters so customers can enjoy nicer seats and even perks like food and alcohol. Will these efforts to modernize be enough to win back consumers?
Every other week, hosts Jenny Kaplan and Lindsey Rupp guided you through the consumer universe, breaking down what's going on with all the things people buy. This will be the last episode of Material World.
Dec 26 2017
Rank #3: To Win the Grocery Wars, Wal-Mart Is Making Designer Melons
In our last episode, Jenny and guest host Craig Giammona explored how technology could shape the grocery industry's future. This week, Jenny and Lindsey look at what the biggest grocers are doing to stay on top -- and discover it has a lot to do with produce. As part of its plan to fight off competition, Wal-Mart, the world's biggest grocer, joined forces with an agriculture giant to design a new, sweeter cantaloupe. If the new melon is a success, it could set the stage for a makeover of the crucial produce aisle across the industry.
"The Cantaloupe Song" was written by Russ Rogers.
Jul 25 2017
Rank #4: Beyond Barbecue: The Evolution of Potato Chips
Everyone knows it's almost impossible to eat just one potato chip. Why is America's favorite salty snack so addictive? Jenny and Lindsey dig into the science behind the mouthwatering taste, the evolution of the business from local to national and the diversification of flavors from plain to things like everything bagel with cream cheese, pico de gallo and crispy taco. Jenny travels to Frito-Lay's Plano, Texas headquarters to get the scoop on how chefs, cooking competitions and healthier eating are reshaping the chip business.
Sep 05 2017
Rank #5: The Tech Industry Wants To Revolutionize How You Shop For Groceries
For decades, the experience of buying groceries has remained much the same — and stayed largely immune to tech disruption. But that may be about to change. Amazon's bid for Whole Foods shows that it's determined to revolutionize the way Americans buy their groceries. Jenny and guest host Craig Giammona talk with grocery experts about how stores are already changing — and the challenge that Amazon faces in charting a new future for the industry.
Jul 11 2017
Rank #6: Trump Inc. (Ivanka Edition): What's in a Name?
For the rich and famous, a name is often much more than just a name, and the Trump family hasn't shied from capitalizing on that opportunity. This week on Material World, we explain how Ivanka Trump turned her name into a brand. Now that the First Daughter has taken a position in the White House, what happens to her namesake company? Jenny and Lindsey speak with branding expert Allen Adamson on the challenges of using a person's name as a brand; actress and entrepreneur Jessica Alba on her decision not to use her name as her masthead and Bloomberg's Kim Bhasin on how the Ivanka Trump Co. is helped or hurt by the election of its founder's father.
Aug 22 2017
Rank #7: The Future of Vegan Food Is Here, and It’s Not Gross
For many years, packaged vegan foods were expensive, sometimes unappealing, knock-offs of animal products and byproducts made for diet extremists. Not any more. Companies that make plant-based fare, such as Treeline Cheese and Beyond Meat, want their products to go mainstream. They're working hard to appeal to meat-eaters, not just vegetarians. Others, like Santa Margherita Wine, call being vegan more of a perk than a goal. But will Americans ever really be willing to spring for a more expensive cashew-based cheese or skip beef for an imitation burger?
Aug 22 2016
Rank #8: Yogurt Battle Puts Big Food Struggles on Display
Big Food's having a tough time, and yogurt is no exception. Large, bureaucratic food companies have trouble keeping up with consumers looking for fresh ingredients and new products. Newcomers like Chobani are beating out old standbys such as General Mills' Yoplait and DannoneWave's Dannon. This week on Material World, Jenny and guest host Craig Giammona dig into the evolution of yogurt, the changing consumer and the lessons yogurt provides for the rest the grocery store.
Correction: A previous version of this episode misstated Gary Hirshberg's last name.
Oct 31 2017
Rank #9: Wal-Mart Gets Ready For Virtual Reality Shopping
Retail has been undergoing a rapid, extreme time of change that hasn't happened since online shopping came on the scene 20 years ago. Companies like Wal-Mart, the biggest retailer in the world, are trying to get ahead of the next trends in how people will buy stuff. They're making a big bet on virtual reality and augmented reality, and this week Jenny Kaplan and Lindsey Rupp take you behind the scenes to use Wal-Mart as a case study for how you might buy a tent or even a dress in the future.
Dec 12 2017
Rank #10: Why There's No Excuse Not To Buy Better Underwear
Material World is taking a look at the basics -- underwear. Technology and innovation has infiltrated the rest of your closet. Now, entrepreneurs say it's time to upgrade your underwear drawer. There's plenty to pick from: The global men's underwear market is expected to expand to $11 billion in 2020 from $8.4 billion in 2015, according to Persistence Market Research. That 31 percent jump dwarfs the expected 14 percent growth in the overall men's apparel market to $33 billion in 2020, according to Edited. Jenny and Lindsey talk with the founders of My Pakage and Tommy Johns, mens' brands, and Thinx, the so-called period underwear, to explore trends driving this market. Plus, they host a consumer-expert panel to find out if the new products actually live up to the hype.
Feb 06 2017
Rank #11: How to Live Forever Young
Immortality may remain forever the stuff of science fiction, but our ability to live long and prosper is finally within reach -- if a select group of so-called biohackers can be believed. Take Bulletproof founder Dave Asprey, so committed to the lifestyle that he plans to live to the age of 180. Or consider Jim Fadiman, who studies the benefits of microdosing on psychedelic drugs such as LSD and says small changes can have big benefits. They're just two of the scores of experts, professionals and skeptics whom Jenny and Lindsey spoke with for this week's Material World. We also explore more mainstream efforts to live better, from diet and exercise to smartphone apps that help less-committed people quantify their wellness goals and success.
Feb 21 2017
Rank #12: How Climate Change Affects What You Buy
Climate change is already worsening extreme weather events -- from hurricanes to wildfires -- and beginning to affect the U.S. economy and consumers. This episode is the first in a two-part series on climate and commerce. This week, Lindsey and Jenny dive into how changes in the environment are showing up in stores and businesses. Dr. Peter Howard, the economics director at the institute for policy integrity at NYU's school of law, explains how changing global temperatures and climate could have ripple effects on businesses and shoppers. Bloomberg's Jordyn Holman discusses her reporting in Puerto Rico after it was hit by Hurricane Maria and the director of the Florida Department of Citrus describes Hurricane Irma's impact on growers.
Nov 15 2017
Rank #13: Is New York Fashion Week Still On Trend?
Last month, fashion lovers got a taste of what's going to be in this spring as designers and models took to runways from New York to London to Paris and Milan. But as customers look for instant gratification and retailers rush to get clothes on shelves faster, is New York Fashion Week as relevant and agenda-setting as it once was? Lindsey Rupp and Alex Barinka talk with Xcel Brands Chief Executive Officer Bob D'Loren, retail consultant Gabriella Santaniello, and Tricia Smith, the head of women's merchandising at Nordstrom.
Oct 17 2017
Rank #14: Inside Fashion's Quest to Make Sustainable Clothes Fit
Americans love what they wear -- until it's time to throw it away. Each year, we generate 21 billion pounds of discarded clothing, amounting to 70 pounds per person. Now, as the world finally begins to address climate change, is there a business case for the fashion industry to invest in sustainability? Lindsey and Jenny talk brands including H&M, Levi Strauss and Timberland about what they're doing to make their products more green. With apparel at the beginning of its transformation, customers will need to demand improvements to help spur change.
May 01 2017
Rank #15: Global Warming Is Coming for Your Shopping Cart
The impact of climate change on the things we buy is already noticeable, but it’s bound to get worse. In future decades, the food we eat, beverages we drink and clothes we wear may all be altered by the warming planet. In the second of two episodes about climate change, Jenny and Lindsey dig into the future impact of global warming on shoppers. They talk with Andrea Illy, Chief Executive Officer of IllyCaffe; Dr. Peter Howard, economics director at the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University's School of Law; and Cecilia Strömblad Brännsten, a sustainability business expert at H&M.
Nov 28 2017
Rank #16: America's Sugar Addiction: Why So Sweet?
This time of year feels like a continuous feast. With pumpkin spice lattes and apple pie and holiday cookies at every turn, Americans are constantly confronted by sugar. More than half of the nation's people are trying to eat less sugar -- and some are trying to quit altogether. So why is it so hard to tame that sweet tooth?
Jenny and Lindsey dig into the ingredients that keep us chomping long past our necessary caloric intake: sugar, salt and fat. Jacqueline Raposo, a food writer and host of the "Love Bites" podcast, talks about the challenges of her month-long pledge to abstain from sugar. New York University's Nutrition and Food Studies Professor Marion Nestle explains why certain tastes appeal. Bestselling author and New York Times investigative reporter Michael Moss and Bloomberg's Craig Giammona speak to the companies that rely on sugar, salt and fat to attract consumers and how Big Food and Big Soda are being forced to change tactics.
Nov 29 2016
Rank #17: This Bud's For You: Weed Goes Mainstream
As legalized pot becomes more widely available, the race is on for brands to become household names. One in five American adults now lives in a place where he or she can smoke, eat, drink, vape or otherwise ingest cannabis as they please. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau laid out plans last week for the country to become the first Group of Seven nation to legalize it nationally. As the product moves out of the black market, cannabis is getting a makeover.
Jenny and Lindsey dive into what's going on politically and how the industry is changing. Some ganjapreneurs are leaving Jamaican flags, giant pot leaves and highly potent strains behind in the quest to become the Coca-Cola or Budweiser of weed.
Apr 19 2017
Rank #18: Zombie Brands Are Hard to Kill
The holidays are upon us, and with them a shopping season that can make or break a struggling retailer. Yet bankruptcy doesn't always mean the end. Many struggling chains linger well past their expiration dates and others find second lives under new ownership. The deciding factor is the strength of the brand.
Join us as Lindsey and Jenny explain the bankruptcy process -- and why some brands survive while others don't. Jamie Salter tells us why he bought Aeropostale, the teen apparel chain, four months after it filed for bankruptcy in May. Bazillion Points book publisher Ian Christe describes his conflict with Borders, the bookseller that went out of business in 2011. Ryan Cotton, a managing director at Bain Capital Private Equity, explores what sets successful brands apart, while Bloomberg's Lauren Coleman-Lochner breaks down the mechanics of filing for bankruptcy.
Dec 12 2016
Rank #19: Pink It & Shrink It
Marketing to women is getting more nuanced than the stereotyped, often sexist, efforts of the past -- mostly. How are companies that sell typically macho-things like beer and guns appealing to the fairer sex? Some do it better than others with inclusive messages. The toy industry is making stereotypically masculine toys more palatable for girls. The internet is allowing marketers to target customers based on their interests. Will advertisers ever really know what women want?
Sep 06 2016
Rank #20: How Festivals Became Marketing Meccas
From the success of Coachella to the cataclysm that was Fyre, music festivals are omnipresent these days, drawing colossal crowds and clogging Instagram feeds. But it isn't just partiers who have caught the festival bug -- consumer product companies want in, too. This week on Material World, Jenny and Lindsey examine how and why these gatherings have become the ultimate millennial experience and marketing mecca. They talk with executives from Live Nation, Heineken, and The Infatuation to get the scoop on what's behind the trend.
May 30 2017