Is PepsiCo Planning To Kill Off SodaStream?

Is PepsiCo Planning To Kill Off SodaStream?

 

Huge fan of SodaStream but ever since the PepsiCo purchase, it has been difficult to swap out the cartridge refills. Seems like they want to make the device unusable.

 

I’ve been complaining about this for months and now other friends have chimed in after running into the same problem.

  • Shortly after PepsiCo acquired SodaStream, my nearest Best Buy stopped carrying the refill cartridges.
  • Tweets and phone calls with SodaStream resolved nothing. I don’t live in a doorman building so the offer of cartridge refill pick-ups and deliveries doesn’t work for me.

SodaStream reached out to me several times and told me that they had resolved the Best Buy problem and the store was again carrying the refill cartridges – NOT TRUE!

  • I ultimately found a small hardware store in the East Village that carries refills. But I have to schedule special trips to that neighborhood which makes the whole experience inconvenient and annoying.

In the meantime, friends in Miami are reporting that they’re now suddenly running into problems getting SodaStream pick-up/delivery service to their building.

Additionally, lots of complaints online about refills no longer being available e.g. from Staples, Walmart etc. PLUS – and this really sucks – an extra $8 delivery fee for pick-up/delivery service!

PepsiCo has a new CEO. Big corporate layoffs are coming. Last Friday, the company announced it will incur $2.5 billion in restructuring costs, 70% linked to severance costs. They’re also planning to close factories.

I fear SodaStream may be going down. I’m pretty sure selling refill cartridges is not nearly as profitable a business as selling sugar water – or Muscle Milk – the newest acquisition by the company.

Am I right PepsiCo?

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Funko CEO Says 2019 Will Be An Insane Year For The Brand

Funko CEO Says 2019 Will Be An Insane Year For The Brand

 

Such a rush discovering pop culture figurines are STILL a thing – and getting cooler and ever more popular!

 

Initially, this post was going to be about the new Fisher-Price Little People WWE Wrestlers (as a hat tip to my friends Justin and Chris who are crazy wrestling fans!).

But then, as is often the case, my curiosity led me down an entirely different rabbit hole into the fantastic world of Funko Pop! Vinyl Figures.

I hadn’t given collectibles much thought since Kid Robot closed back in 2014. I still have my tiny collection from Heatherette but beyond that, not on my radar at all.

I am so happy to re-familiarize myself with the category and especially to discover Funko.

A few Funko highlights:

  • The company IPO’d in 2017. The stock has had a wild ride since then (up, down and up again).
  • Because they’re  geared more to adults than kids – and none of their individual retailers account for more than 10% of their sales – they’ve fared better than Mattel and Hasbro with Toys R Us closing.
  • Their Vinyl figures posted more than 25% annual sales growth for seven straight quarters.
  • Their stock popped 32% in January (and was up 154% over the last 12 months).
  • They currently have over 1,000 licensed properties in their portfolio.
  • They have a Post Malone figure scheduled for later this year. I wrote about him this past Saturday. Their music lineup is strong with The Beatles, Kiss, Billy Idol, Jimi Hendrix, Flavor Flav, Korean boy band BTS and many, many others.
  • Their KFC Colonel Sanders figure, with his signature cane, sold out within 11 minutes
  • Other hot franchises: Fortnite and  Golden Girls.

 

Read on below for more.

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The Era Of The Social Media Politician Has Arrived

The Era Of The Social Media Politician Has Arrived

 

As far as I can tell, only AOC can beat Donald Trump at this game. She is his equal when it comes to being a twitter assassin.

 

I hope I’m wrong about this but it’s looking bleak for anyone in politics who has not mastered social media.

Total game changer for the 2020 elections. And forget about having your “team” do it for you – that’s lame, a non-starter.

Reminds me of the shift we saw in the ’60’s with the introduction of television. Televised debates played a pivotal role in getting Kennedy elected. TV gave whoever was more photogenic a huge advantage (in Kennedy’s case, Nixon was done in by his sweaty, nervous demeanor).

Seems to me we are at a similar juncture today.

Only now, not only is the visual important, the message has to be crafted to be catchy, memorable and speedily passed along via social media. Fact-checking is less important as we’ve seen with AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) you just have to be comfortable fast-talking your way out of inaccuracies.

The reach is direct, bypassing the media middleman. Have you noticed how frazzled political reporters are looking as they try to keep up with the tweet storms generated by AOC and Trump? Video also plays a key role (AOC dancing was an absolute win for her, and a major miscalculation by conservatives).

Based on this shift to social, here’s what it will take to become a winner in 2020:

  • Facile at communicating in punchy, off-the-cuff  “headlines” vs. thoughtful (slower) deliberation or more complex, nuanced perspectives.
  • Brash, unapologetic, never deterred by facts or inaccuracies, as long as the sentiment is accurate
  • Truthiness vs. truth. The end justifies the means. The Amazon LIC deal, for example, was killed by local politicians deliberately using falsehoods about key aspects of the deal.
  • Ideally, photogenic (although Trump defies that rule….) but Beto has it going on. He’s got quite a Kennedy vibe.

 

Bottom Line.

Based on the current field (with new contenders announcing daily) AND assuming the Mueller investigation has wrapped up with no incontrovertible proof of collusion, I believe Donald Trump can win again.

I can’t see any of the Democrats currently running, winning against Trump i.e. Sanders, Warren, Gillebrand, Biden, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Amy Klobucher, Marianne Williamson and potentially Bill De Blasio, Howard Schultz, Bloomberg and Beto O’Rourke.

The filter we will be using in the future to pick candidates will be based on their “reality TV star” potential – I’m not kidding! The skill set those celebrities and social media influencers exhibit is what we are increasingly voting for when it comes to elections.

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5 New Business Concepts: Why They Are Right For The Future

5 New Business Concepts: Why They Are Right For The Future

 

We’re in a big period of change. Here are 5 recent examples of culture shifts in retail, real estate, and food and beverage.

 

#1: Organic Rolling Papers at The High End (Barney’s new head shop)

Barney’s LA is opening a luxury head shop for customers who have adopted the cannabis lifestyle.

  • Along with the organic rolling papers (of course!), you’ll also be able to buy CBD-infused beauty products and $1500 pot grinders.

Similarly, Simon Property Group, the largest owner and operator of malls in the United States, just announced it is partnering with Green Growth Brands (out of Columbus OH) to open 108 CBD stores this year.

As the Motley Fool points out:

  • Nearly 22% of Simon’s inline and freestanding stores are due to have their leases expire between 2020 and 2022.
  • By aligning themselves with Green Growth Brands Simon Property Group is de-risking potential negatives of lease expirations, especially if the U.S. economy slows.

 

Read on below for 4 more brand/business shifts of note.

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Beau Of The Fifth Column: Interesting Perspective, Crazy Times

Beau Of The Fifth Column: Interesting Perspective, Crazy Times

 

With “the news” itself (liberal, conservative or fake) making news these days, here’s a new voice joining the conversation about masculinity, guns and politics. Thanks Ryan Humphrey for putting him on my radar.

 

Of course, I had to dig into what this guy is about. Here’s what I’ve discovered so far.

His real name is Justin King. He’s what’s called an adversarial journalist. He’s also an ex-private military contractor. He comes from a military family, born in Japan. He’s spent time in jail as a result of some of his military “work.”

  • He’s an activist and an anarchist. He’s left-leaning (I think) but as opposed to many left-leaning activists of the Democratic Socialist ilk who are agitating for more government involvement and caretaking, he’s looking for less. He’s more of a survivalist.
  • He’s also heavy into conservation – especially of wolves.
  • I’m still baffled as to exactly what he’s about. But for anyone who is curious about politics – both global and domestic – and who is skeptical about current news (from all sources and political leanings), this is an intriguing new voice to add to the mix.
  • I was not expecting to hear what I heard him say based on how he looks and sounds (and he often references that disconnect).
  • Please watch his videos (below) – I’ll be extremely curious to know what you think.

 

Scroll down for all 3 videos, they’re short. Highly recommend.

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Loneliness Is The Worst: Here Are 5 Surefire Tips

Loneliness Is The Worst: Here Are 5 Surefire Tips

 

 

Half of Americans say they are lonely. Experts are talking about it being an epidemic. I recently had a bout of it myself.

 

I’m rarely lonely but when it hits, it’s shocking and undeniably painful.

  • My recent experience came and went very quickly, a result of being cooped up at home.
  • I had this little surgery, my nurses had left, and I felt so totally alone and empty and sad.
  • Brad is away doing his desert art residency and I was suddenly overcome with an intense feeling of isolation.

While in this despondent and melancholy state, I had two vivid  memories of having felt this way before:

#1:  After moving to the States, I had my mother visit for the first time. After we took her to the airport for her flight home, I could not stop weeping. I cried for a whole week. We had such a great time together and I could not envision life without her by my side. I don’t recall exactly when that feeling went away. Most likely, my husband ended up taking me on a trip somewhere to distract me from my misery.

#2: After my divorce I found Sundays incredibly difficult. On the loneliness spectrum, Sunday- especially around brunch –  has to be the loneliest day of the week for singles. Everywhere you look, there are couples with that “just had sex glow” and there you are all by yourself.

Anyway, enough of that!!

As most of you know I am a woman of action. After a few months of miserable Sundays, I came up with a plan. Not only did it get me out of my slump, it has served as my North Star ever since.

 

Read on below for my 5-Step Non-Fail Plan for overcoming loneliness.

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Face Tattoos Are Suddenly Everywhere. Want To Know Why?

Face Tattoos Are Suddenly Everywhere. Want To Know Why?

Left: Post Malone; Upper Right 6ix9ine, Lower Right: Lil Pump, Lower Middle: Lil Uzi Vert

 

If you watched the Grammy’s last week you saw LOTS of face tattoos. It made me curious. What’s going on here?

 

Post Malone and Tekashi 6ix9ine are the two I’ve been most familiar with (the latter got on my radar through Citizen app for a shooting involving his entourage at a swanky restaurant uptown!).

  • I spent hours this week researching what this shift to face tattooing is all about
  • It led me to a surprisingly melodic, catchy and new (to me) subgenre of music
  • It goes by various names: SoundCloud Rap, “mumble rap” or “emo rap.”
  • Based on my visual search, it reminded me a bit of updated rave kids – albeit with face tattoos. It’s very colorful – from attire to hair to teeth!
  • But for context, this description from Ben Madden on music blog, Cool Accidents, is especially interesting: “If rappers are the new rockstars, SoundCloud rappers are the new punks.” 

For the last few days, I’ve been listening to SoundCloud Rap non-stop (definitely giving Alexa a workout and I’m impressed by her familiarity with all these convoluted “Lil” names).

So far, my favorites are Post Malone (he’s the most melodic), Lil Pump, Gucci Mane and Lil Xan (who is white, recently in rehab, apparently sworn of Xanax, he’s also made a few enemies for calling Tupac “boring”).

This weekend in Paris, at the Mondial du Tatouage (the World Tattoo Expo) the trend to facial tattoos is expected to be on full display.

I’m anticipating we will see lots more of this which is why you need to read on below.

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Fresh Food Is The Most Powerful Medicine

Fresh Food Is The Most Powerful Medicine

 

 

“There’s absolutely nothing more important for our health than what we eat each and every day.”      —  Sara Seidelmann, cardiologist/nutrition researcher, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston

 

I’m way in deep on this topic but I can’t help myself. Since I’ve been on my drinking hiatus, I’ve been feeling a thousand times healthier. It’s made me reconsider many of my favorite foods.

And today’s news about the linkage of Diet Coke to increased risk of strokes and heart attacks is a major wake up call for many of us.

And, by the way, the piece I wrote about  Keto has been getting lots of action. It turns out my skepticism about this newest of wacky diets was warranted.

Check this out:

#1: Based on Sara Seidelmann’s blockbuster global study of the eating patterns of more than 447,000 people around the world:

  • The restrictive keto diet of high-fat foods, is not only hard to follow, it could send you to an early grave.
  • The best health results come from fiber-rich plant-based foods e.g. vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and carb-heavy beans.
  • Study after study is placing meats and highly processed foods in the danger zone.

 

Read on below for four more recent findings on ways we’re all eating/drinking healthier (and sometimes not!):

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