There are just a few days left in 2022 so it is time to look back at my 2022 brands to watch.
Each year I identify a few brands that are worth following as they head into particularly interesting situations. I’ll publish my 2023 list next week.
Here is review of my 2022 picks, with some commentary on how the year worked out.
The Beijing Winter Olympics were in early 2022. Really? It hardly seems possible, since so much has happened since that event.
I wondered about the Olympics brand given China’s lack of free speech and COVID lock-down policies. More important, I speculated that brands would try to walk a delicate line: supporting the athletes and the Olympics while playing down the connection to China.
This is how things played out. Brands showed up, which was a given since the deals had been signed much earlier. The advertising focused relentlessly on the athletes.
Nathan Chen emerged as the biggest star, with a remarkable story and performance.
The Olympics brand lost a bit of luster. In most years, athletes interact, there is a sense of joy and fun as people come together to marvel and cheer. That was gone in 2022.
One of the most notable “COVID Brands,” Peloton started 2022 in disarray. I wondered if the brand would rebound.
It was indeed a lively year. CEO John Foley stepped down in February and the company began a series of massive layoffs.
The new leadership team has made big changes, retreating from certain areas like apparel and manufacturing, and investing in others.
The company has certainly not rebounded. When I wrote the post last year the stock was trading at $37. Today it trades at $8.
But there are some hopeful signs. People still love the brand, engagement remains high, and the company is focused on the core fitness class proposition. After a terrible 2022, I’m optimistic.
The darling brand of hard seltzer was another of my brands to watch, as innovation sweeps through the alcoholic beverage industry.
I predicted that White Claw would stumble and the big players like AB InBev would regain some momentum.
That prediction was largely correct. It isn’t easy to get perfect data, since White Claw owner Mark Anthony is private. But AB InBev is doing better, with the stock price flat in 2022, vastly outperforming the broader market. Boston Beer Company, maker of Truly, has stumbled. The stock is down 35% this year and the company had to destroy thousands of cases of Truly.
Once again Donald Trump was a brand to watch. I predicted he would announce another run for the presidency. This was accurate.
However, I also projected that he would do so after a strong Republican showing in the mid-term elections, giving him considerable momentum. That has not happened.
Donald Trump leaves 2022 as a much-diminished brand. Momentum is key in the world of politics. Right now, Trump doesn’t have it and other players do.
I anticipated electric-truck maker Rivian would stumble in 2022. That was something of an understatement. It has been a dreadful year for Rivian, with the stock down over 80%.
As the big industry players pivot to electric, it becomes harder and harder for a new player to break in. Tesla caught the auto industry by surprise and might survive. Rivian is facing huge companies determined to defend.
When big companies defend, small companies get squashed.
Look for my 2023 brands to watch next week. You can sign-up for the newsletter here.