Posts tagged with "CNBC"

Out-of-the-box thinking: There are 175 new mattress brands and too little differentiation

August 20, 2019

If someone had asked us several years ago whether we would be willing to buy a mattress in a box, without seeing it or even stretching out on it first, we would immediately have rejected such a crazy proposition. After all, the best way to buy a new mattress used to be visiting a showroom and sampling the goods.

However, Michael Magnuson, founder of mattress review site GoodBed.com told CNBC recently that there are now around 175 bed-in-a-box companies—and online mattress sales have become a successful and profitable sector of the home goods industry.

Online mattress companies that ship to your front door say that finding the perfect bed might just take a few clicks. But those same industry experts warn that it’s important to look beneath the sheets, the cable network news outlet notes. They say many mattresses being sold are actually very similar formulations—despite how they’re marketed. In fact, they often are manufactured by the same companies.

“The products that you’re buying—there are many similarities and only some minor differences,” Seth Basham, an analyst at Wedbush Securities who covers the mattress industry, told CNBC recently. He said that the core of the mattresses at different companies often use the same foam.  “The different layers— what goes on top of what—can differ. But the big difference is how they’re being sold and marketed.”

Their sales account for 12% of the $16.5 billion mattress industry, though only the top 10 companies make a significant dent, according to Basham. Among the major players are brands like Purple, Casper, Nectar, Leesa, and Tuft & Needle.

The legacy mattress giants like Tempur Sealy and Serta Simmons should be nervous, Peter Keith, an analyst at Piper Jaffray told the news outlet in an interview. Sales units on average at those companies have been down 5% over the past two years.

A survey by the International Sleep Products Association reported that 45% of mattresses purchased in last year were online, up from 35% for purchases in 2017.

The majority of bed-in-a-boxes outsource their manufacturing, according to Magnuson from GoodBed.com. “None of these guys, with a few rare exceptions, make their own mattresses,” he said. “They’re literally calling around to producers saying, ‘we need a finished product and here’s what we think it should look like.’ Sometimes, they don’t even know what they want it to look like.”

The companies that make their own mattresses include Brentwood Home, Brooklyn Bedding, and Purple, Magnuson said. Many of the bigger bed-in-a-boxes do the research and development of the mattresses themselves, which differentiate how they feel.

And companies like Tuft & Needle, Casper and Leesa have layers of foam with proprietary formulas, which means they’re not the same as others.

Most of the outsourcing is to just four major manufacturers, according to Dan Schecter, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Carpenter. He told CNBC that his company makes mattresses for 40% of the mattress industry at 60 factories throughout the country. That includes including roughly 14 bed-in-a-box brands, along with all the traditional players like Tempur Sealy.

“The customer comes to us … they say they want a mattress that does these things against the body, and they would like to have these features and advantages as part of their marketing story. We then create the mattresses that dovetail with what their vision is,” he said.

Schecter said the mattresses produced by Carpenter do not have the same foam formulations, and that the company only agrees to design and manufacture mattresses that are backed by science.

Purple emphasizes the science behind its mattresses, especially its “Smart Comfort Grid” layer, which it says helps to relieve pressure on your body during sleep. Eight Sleep is another company that’s technology-oriented, and touts its mattresses’ dual temperature control and sleep tracking app.

So what’s a tired consumer supposed to buy? Until the market shakes out, that might be a problem.

But all the different offerings might just overwhelm consumers, David Srere, co-CEO of branding agency Siegel+Gale, told CNBC. “It’s the amount of information. There’s just too much,” he said. “If you go online, not only do all of them look alike, but they’re all talking about their different products. If I tell you that my mattress is special because it’s infused with copper gel, does it mean anything to you?”

Research contact: @CNBC

Out of office message: Labor Secretary Alex Acosta resigns

July 15, 2019

Labor Secretary Alex Acosta said in a press conference on July 12 that he would resign, amid controversy over a hush-hush plea deal that he and his staff made with billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein in 2008, while Acosta was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

According to criminal justice sources in the Sunshine State, there was sufficient evidence at that time to prosecute Epstein for sexual assault against dozens of underage girls, but instead Acosta prearranged a pact with the alleged offender—and did not provide details of the settlement to complainants in the case.

Details of the slimy deal—which allowed Epstein to register as a sex offender, but to work in his office six days a week and only to sleep in jail for 13 months—resurfaced on July 6; when the politically connected Epstein, whose friends in high places have included Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton, was arrested again on sex trafficking charges after he returned from France by private plane to the New York City metropolitan area.

Following the arrest, those same sources accused Acosta of “rewriting history” when he stated, “Now that new evidence and additional testimony is available, the [Southern District of] New York prosecution offers an important opportunity to more fully bring him to justice.”

As the story continued to garner headlines and outrage in the days after Epstein was taken into custody, President Trump remained steadfast in his support of his Labor Secretary, but leading Democratic presidential candidates, including Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren-—as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer—demanded that Acosta quit.

Acosta finally made the announcement on Friday morning to reporters while standing next to the president outside the White House, according to a report by CNBC. Trump said that Acosta had called him that morning, and that it was Acosta’s decision to quit.

“This was him, not me, because I’m with him,” Trump said in a lengthy exchange with the press before departing the White House en route to events in Wisconsin and Ohio, said CNBC. “I said, ‘You don’t have to do this.’”

Acosta told reporters that he did not want his involvement in Epstein’s controversy to overshadow the administration’s accomplishments. Acosta said he will officially resign a week after his announcement; Deputy Labor Secretary Patrick Pizzella will take his place in an acting capacity, Trump said.

According to the CNBC report, Epstein is accused of luring dozens of underage girls to his Manhattan mansion to give him massages that escalated into sex acts. He is charged in New York with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.

Epstein had long been under investigation by both federal and local law enforcement for sex crimes against underage girls that took place from 2002 to 2005 in New York and Florida.

Research contact: @CNBC

Dieticians: Plant-based Beyond and Impossible burgers are no healthier than red meat

July 8, 2019

If you had a regular burger on July 4—but feel a little guilty about not choosing one of the newly popular plant-based alternatives—no worries.

Although the marketers behind El Segundo, California-based Beyond Meat and its competitor, Redwood California-based Impossible Foods, say that their products are better for us than meat, dietitians are not completely sold on the benefits, CNBC reports.

Scientific research has linked frequent consumption of red meat to heart disease and cancer. Beyond’s website claims that animal-based meats lead to a 16% increased risk of cancer and 21% increased risk of heart disease.

In theory, then, eating plant-based imitations of red meat is healthier. However, Alissa Rumsey, owner of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness in New York City, told CNBC that—while she believes that we benefit from eating more plants — she isn’t sold on these plant-based options.

“They are not necessarily healthier than beef burgers,” Rumsey, a registered dietitian, said. “They’re totally fine to eat, but there’s no need to replace your beef burger if you don’t enjoy these.”

Rumsey pointed to the amounts of sodium and saturated fat in plant-based burgers, which are roughly the same as those in a traditional beef burger.

What’s more, because both the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger are processed foods, registered dietitian Catherine Perez—who specializes in plant-based diets at The Charge Group in Media, Pennsylvania—told CNBC that she still puts them in the “indulgence category.”

The Impossible Burger uses heme from soy plants for a meaty taste and realistic juices, as well as soy protein concentrate. However, processed soy is controversial because it strips out some of the key nutrients found in traditional soy foods like tofu and can contain unhealthy compounds.

The Beyond Burger does not contain soy and instead uses pea protein isolate for its primary protein source.

All three dietitians said that consumers should try to incorporate more whole foods—rather than processed foods—into their meals.

Research contact: @CNBC

Harris hits hard at Biden at Miami debate; leaves frontrunner reeling

July 1, 2019

All of the Democratic hopefuls piled on their criticisms of the current frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden, during the June 27 presidential debate, hosted by NBC News in Miami—but Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) bested her 19 rivals, a longtime Republican pollster told CNBC on Friday.

“She owned the stage, and Joe Biden should have known it was coming, ” Frank Luntz said in a Squawk Box interview the morning after the second round of debates..

Harris, a first-term U.S. senator and former California attorney general, bashed Biden for his comments at a June 25 New York City fundraiser, at which he reminisced about the atmosphere of political fellowship when he was a senator in the 1970s and 1980s—comparing it to today’s climate, in which political rivals are considered “the enemy.”

At that event, Biden cited his ability to work with such staunch segregationists as Senator James Eastland (D- Mississippi), who Biden said was “one of the meanest guys I ever knew.”

“I was in a caucus with … Eastland,” Biden said and then, imitating a Southern accent, added that the senator “never called me ‘boy,’” a racial epithet used against black men (but not against Caucasians such as Biden).

At Thursday night’s debate, Harris left Biden chagrined and disconcerted after she pressed him on his July 25 comments—as well as on his record on school desegregation.

As the only black candidate on the stage, Harris recounted her own experience with integration and told Biden it was “hurtful” that he had worked with segregationist senators and led anti-busing efforts, NBC News reported.

At the end of her attack, she threw a curveball that knocked both Biden and the audience off their feet: ““There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day, and that little girl was me,” Harris said.

“She was very effective in that moment,” said one of the other candidates, Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado).

Biden called Harris’s blitzkrieg “a mischaracterization of my position across the board,” arguing, “I did not praise racists.”

As NBC news reported, the former vice president also reiterated the argument he has made in the past: that the federal government should not have been empowered to force schools to use busing as a means of desegregation..

By the end of the back and forth, the usually loquacious Biden cut himself off. “My time is up,” he said abruptly. “I’m sorry.”

 “That was a brilliant debate performance,” Luntz said to CNBC of Harris. “She’s the winner of both nights.”

So, would Harris be the best adversary to Trump in a future debate?

 “Don’t focus on the national numbers,” said Luntz, who refused to say which Democratic candidate would present the toughest challenge to Trump’s reelection campaign.At this point, it’s all about convincing primary voters in key early-voting states, the pollster said. “What really matters is IowaNew HampshireSouth Carolina. ”

In handicapping Harris’ primary chances, Luntz said, “South Carolina is 40% African American, the Democratic primary. She has now staked a clear claim to that vote. A number of them have been supporting Biden up to this point.”

Research contact: @CNBC

Prime time: In rivalry with Amazon, Target offers ‘deal days,’ eBay plans a ‘crash sale’

June 27, 2019

Amazon is promoting its “Prime Day” again—but other retailers aren’t going to be caught out again this year. They are offering a bevy of their own deals, which they hope will dazzle shoppers and draw them into their websites and brick-and-mortar locations.

According to a report by CNBC, both Target and eBay so far have announced their own deal strategies following Amazon’s announcement on June 25—in which the company said Prime Day will actually run for two days this year and begin at midnight (PT) on July 15.

Target is plugging its “deal days” on July 15 and 16. The discount chain said in a June 25 press release, “Savers, start your engines. Today we’re unveiling Target Deal Days, two (yep, two!) days of red-hot online sales, no membership required. On Monday, July 15, and Tuesday, July 16, you’ll be able to save big with thousands of deals across Target.com and on the Target app, with new deals each day.”

As it says above, Target is emphasizing that no o membership is required to shop the special deals—as is the case with Amazon’s event. Customers can also receive 5% in savings when they use a Target credit card.

Last year,  CNBC reminds us, Target held a one-day sale on its website that aligned with Prime Day. It was one of the retailer’s biggest days of the year for online sales, according to Target’s Chief Merchandising Officer Mark Tritton.

Amazon rival eBay, meanwhile, is holding what it calls a “crash sale.” It said it will start offering some deals as early as July 1. But on July 15, it will be offering deals on major brands including LG, Apple, Samsung, KitchenAid, and Garmin.

What’s more, eBay snarks,  it will drop more deals if Amazon’s website crashes, as it did last year at the start of Prime Day.  “July has become a massive shopping season,” Jay Hanson, COO of eBay’s Americas division, told CNBC.

On Prime Day, which started in July 2015 as a way to mark the company’s 20th anniversary, Amazon Prime members can buy highly discounted products. The deals are applied to most of the goods Amazon sells. And many items will sell out within minutes, creating a sort of Black Friday scramble where people are trying to buy things as quickly as possible.

Amazon said last year’s Prime Day was its biggest ever, topping a record in 2017. And so it’s plausible this year could be even more successful since it runs longer, CNBC says.

Amazon shares are up about 25% so far this year. Target’s stock has rallied close to 30%; eBay shares are up more than 39%.

Research contact: @CNBC

Poshmark adds a home décor marketplace to its fashion platform

June 13, 2019

Redwood City, California-based Poshmark—a social commerce marketplace where users can buy and sell new and secondhand fashion items— is moving into home furnishings, as well, where it will compete with the likes of Wayfair and its subsidiaries, Joss & Main, Birch Lane, and AllModern.

The company has announced the launch of Home Market—“an in-app marketplace to buy, sell, and connect around home decor.” Starting on June 11, Poshmark shoppers and sellers began buying, listing, “and discovering” a wide selection of home decor products, in addition to the 75 million listings in apparel, shoes and accessories already on the platform.

“With the launch of the Home Market, we’re taking our first step into broader lifestyle categories and expanding our social marketplace beyond the closet,” said Manish Chandra, founder & CEO of Poshmark, in a company press release. “This market launch reiterates the power of Posh Markets to scale social commerce and enables Poshmark to continue transforming the e-commerce experience.”

The expansion comes as more and more shoppers are turning to secondhand marketplaces like Poshmark, Rebag and TheRealReal to buy used designer handbags or sneakers at lower prices, CNBC reports.

The secondhand apparel market in the U.S. was worth $24 billion in 2018, compared with $35 billion for fast-fashion companies like H&M and Zara, according to data compiled by ThredUp and GlobalData Retail. But by 2028, CNBC notes, the used fashion market is set to jump in value to $64 billion, while fast fashion will only reach $44 billion, the firms said.

Poshmark’s new home vertical will be for things like wall art, pillows, candles and other smaller home goods, but not bulky furniture, Chandra said. Poshmark is still working on perfecting its logistics to be able to handle and ship heavier items, he explained.

Research contact: @Poshmarkapp 

Nearly 200 CEOs sign letter calling abortion bans ‘bad for business’

June 11, 2019

More than 180 CEOs from a who’s who of U.S. and global consumer-facing companies have signed a letter opposing laws and regulations that restrict women’s reproductive healthcare, including abortion, CNBC reports.

Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, Glossier CEO Emily Weiss, fashion designers Rebecca Minkoff, Eileen Fisher, and Diane Von Furstenburg; and the chief executives of companies including Yelp, Warby Parker, Ben & Jerry’s, Birchbox, United Technologies, Amalgamated Bank, Atlantic Records, and The Body Shop, say they signed the letter to send a clear message that restricting access to reproductive care, including abortion, is “against our values, and is bad for business.”

Such legislation, they say in the ad, inhibits “our ability to build diverse and inclusive workforce pipelines, recruit top talent across the states, and protect the well-being of all the people who keep our businesses thriving, day in and day out.”

The letter appeared yesterday as a full-page ad in The New York Times under the heading “Don’t Ban Equality”— and comes less than a month after Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) signed the most restrictive abortion legislation ever in the United States— banning doctors from performing abortion at any stage of pregnancy, punishable by 99 years in prison. The law includes no exceptions—period—even for cases of rape or incest.

Several other states— including Georgia, Arkansas, Indiana and Missouri—have adopted similar laws this year, CNBC noted.

Andrea Blieden, U.S. general manager of The Body Shop told CNBC Make It that “access to reproductive healthcare is recognized as a human right” and says the letter emphasizes the company’s outlook that it is essential U.S. law to “respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of women.”

“We believe that a woman’s ability to access reproductive health care is critical to her autonomy, economic success, physical and mental health and general empowerment in the workplace,” said Blieden. “As a brand that stands for equality and women’s empowerment, we believe it’s important that we take a stand and join this cause.”

Seventh Generation CEO Joey Bergstein told the news outlet that now, more than ever, it’s essential for CEOs and executives to speak up. “We’re deep believers that companies and businesses can and must be a force for good,” he says. “You’ll notice in our mission that we don’t talk at all about selling eco-friendly home and personal care products. We talk about the change we’re trying to create in the world, and that’s inclusive of social change, with this being a pivotal issue.”

A 2017 survey conducted by public relations firm Weber and Shandwick found that 47% of Millennials believe CEOs have a responsibility to speak up about issues that are important to society. Additionally, 28% of Gen Xers and Boomers agreed.

The letter that appeared in the Times was spearheaded by a group of advocacy organizations that comprises the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the Center for Reproductive Rights. These organizations also have partnered to launch DontBanEquality.com, a site where people can learn more about the group’s mission and where CEOs can add their names to the letter.

“It’s critical that business leaders stand up and use our voice on incredibly important issues,” says Bergstein. “And I think reproductive rights and women’s equality is one of the most important issues of our time.”

Research contact: @CNBCMakeIt

Apple snags asthma tracker Tueo for its third healthcare acquisition since 2016

May 30, 2019

In its latest move to edge deeper into the healthcare sector , Apple has snagged Redwood City, California-based digital startup Tueo Health, which helps parents track their children’s asthma symptoms when they are in bed at night using an under-the-mattress sensor that signals a mobile app to report problems, Business Insider reports.

According to the news outlet,  Apple likely was eyeing the digital asthma management company because its product had a good chance of taking off: The global intelligent asthma monitoring market is expected to hit $655 million by 2025—a huge leap from its $20 million valuation in 2017, according to Allied Market Research.

This represents Apple’s third healthcare acquisition since 2016—including Beddit and Gliimpse.

Acquired by Apple in May 2017 and founded in October 2006, Beddit is a Finnish-based technology company that has  developed a device that keeps tabs of users’ movement while they’re asleep. Apple likely tapped sleep tracking a growth pillar given that 45% of US adults in 2017 “could imagine” using a sleep tracker, Business Insider said.

Founded in 2013 and purchased by Apple in August 2016, Gliimpse—which targets patients with chronic conditions—offers a consumer-facing platform to combine a user’s personal health data from labs, hospitals, and pharmacies into one shareable report. Apple bought Gliimpse to help turn the iPhone into a repository for consumers’ medical records, helping Apple move into the health records market, per CNBC.

Apple could use all three of these acquisitions to forge new ties with health organizations that want access to valuable sleep data. For example, If Apple can integrate Tueo Health’s solution into its smartphone-based personal medical records hub Health Records, pediatric-focused firms might want to join the horde of hospitals that’ve been flocking to implement it. The tech could provide a fuller picture of how patients are faring at night, which could steer doctors toward the most effective treatment options, Business Insider reports.

This could be a balm to hospitals that are likely racing to get a handle on asthma, which costs the nation $56 billion annually: Over 8% of children—or 6 million total in the United States suffer from asthma, and that number will likely climb, per the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).

Research contact: @businessinsider

Scared of boarding the Boeing 737 Max? Southwest will allow flyers to switch planes for free

May 28, 2019

Although Boeing may have completed the requisite fixes to its 737 Max by the end of June, many flyers have “reservations” about boarding those flights. Now, Southwest Airlines has announced that they won’t have to fight to switch.

Indeed, Southwest’s Chief Marketing Officer Ryan Green says they shouldn’t have to worry: “If they’re uneasy about flying on a Max aircraft, we’ll be flexible with them,” he told CNBC. “We’ll be understanding of that and allow them to fly on a different flight without paying any difference in fare.”

The Dallas, Texas-based low-cost carrier does not charge passengers a fee to change their tickets, but it does charge customers the difference in airfare. But in the case of concerns around the Max, an exception will be made.

All 371 Boeing 737 Max airliners in service worldwide have been grounded since March 13 following the crashes of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 and Lion Air Flight JT610.

Southwest Airlines is the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 737 Max, with a fleet of 34 aircraft. All 34 planes, which are currently in desert storage in Victorville, California, have been pulled from the flight schedule until at least August 5. However, in a recent statement, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said that the company does not have a confirmed timeline for the 737 Max aircraft to return to service.

Kelly said, “We simply don’t have a confirmed timeline to share with regard to when the MAX will return to service. There have been dates ranging from May to July depending on who is commenting. We have our schedule adjusted through August 5th, and if the aircraft are available to fly earlier, we will use them as additional spares to further enhance the reliability of our scheduled service.

“We remain in constant contact with the FAA, Boeing, and industry regulators, as well as our Employee Unions and industry peers, to prepare for implementation of software updates and additional training that Boeing and the FAA will provide to all operators worldwide,” Kelly continued, adding, “These enhancements will further advance the safe operation of the Boeing MAX 8 aircraft and add yet another layer of Safety, and I am incredibly encouraged by the path forward. I have the utmost confidence in our People, procedures, airplanes, training, maintenance, and performance monitoring systems, enhanced by our data-focused Safety Management System.”

However, according to research conducted by Business Insider, many travelers are anxious. . A poll conducted by the news outlet a week after the Ethiopian Airlines crash showed that 53% of American adults surveyed would not want to fly on a Boeing 737 Max—even after the FAA clears the aircraft for service.

Research contact: @SouthwestAir

170 footwear firms, including Nike and Adidas, sign letter imploring Trump to halt tariffs

May 21, 2019

More than 170 footwear manufacturers, distributors, and retailers—including Nike, Under Armour, AdidasFoot LockerUgg and Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse—signed and delivered a letter to the White House on May 20, asking President Donald Trump to reconsider his decision to raise tariffs on footwear imported from China, CNBC reported.

The request comes after the White House last week released a new list of about $300 billion in Chinese goods that could get hit with 25% tariffs, if Trump decides to move forward. The list includes footwear, CNBC said— everything from sneakers to sandals, golf shoes, rain boots and ski shoes.

The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, a trade organization for the industry, has estimated the tariffs could cost shoe shoppers more than $7 billion each year.

“There should be no misunderstanding that U.S. consumers pay for tariffs on products that are imported,” the letter said. “As an industry that faces a $3 billion duty bill every year, we can assure you that any increase in the cost of importing shoes has a direct impact on the American footwear consumer. It is an unavoidable fact that as prices go up at the border due to transportation costs, labor rate increases, or additional duties, the consumer pays more for the product.”

Indeed, if the tariffs are enforced, the price of a pair of shoes could hurtle $15 to $20 higher. The shoe companies estimate that a popular type of canvas “skate” sneaker, currently retailing at $49.99, with a 25% tariff, could increase to $65.57. The price of a typical hunting boot would increase from $190 to $248.56. And a popular performance running shoe could jump from $150 to $206.25, FDRA said.

What’s worse, the shoe companies said, “High footwear tariff rates fall disproportionately on working class individuals and families. While U.S. tariffs on all consumer goods average just 1.9 %, they average 11.3% for footwear; and reach rates as high as 67.5%. Adding a 25% tax increase on top of these tariffs would mean some working American families could pay a nearly 100% duty on their shoes. This is unfathomable

The U.S. imported $11.4 billion worth of footwear from China last year, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, making it an industry that is strongly reliant on that country for its cheaper yet skilled labor.

The companies implored the president, “On behalf of our hundreds of millions of footwear consumers and hundreds of thousands of employees, we ask that you immediately stop this action to increase their tax burden. Your proposal to add tariffs on all imports from China is asking the American consumer to foot the bill. It is time to bring this trade war to an end.”

Research contact: @FDRA