KFC Crocs, McDonald’s candles… Whopper perfume?

Plus: The Consumer Electronics Show is going all-digital in 2021.
July 29, 2020
The Hustle

Yesterday we asked you about unused phone apps you don’t have the heart to delete. A few of our favorites: 

  • Nik: home-security app Vivint. “My mom’s house is still connected to it. What if one day she calls and needs the front door unlocked or the alarm shut off?”
  • Christi: Amazon Alexa. “I have never used it, but afraid my husband will screw up Alexa one day and I will need it.”
  • Tradd: Ham Horn, an… air horn. “To blast off whenever somebody I’m with tells a good joke or roasts someone. Then I can show support with an artificial air horn bah bah baaaahhhhh.”
The Big Idea

You can train your brain to embrace challenges. Here’s how

Getting sh*t done is an issue of mind over matter. 

Research shows people with “strategic mindsets” are primed to push through problems because they’re constantly — if subconsciously — thinking about how to improve.

OK, blind me with science

According to a new study, strategic minds ask:

  • “How else can I do this?”
  • “Is there a better way?”
  • “What could I do to help myself here?”

That’s true whether they’re trying something new or doing something for the thousandth time. 

So why’s this matter?

We can’t just clock in and zone out. We have to figure out solutions to new challenges.

People with strategic mindsets are more successful at meeting their goals — at the office, in the gym, or in the classroom. They’re less likely to get frustrated and throw in the towel. 

Some good news: You can cultivate this mindset

The research says just asking the right questions can turn you into a strategizin’ star.

In one experiment, participants were asked to crack a bunch of eggs. Whoever could separate the most yolks from the whites in under 2 minutes would win a prize.

Some people read an article about strategic mindsets first.

The strategizers fried the control group. Their secret? They found new ways to crack the eggs.

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Hustle Hot Takes

Trung’s 5 anti-antitrust tips for the Big Tech CEOs

The battle of Congress vs. Big Tech Titans is livestreaming today at noon ET. Our Trung Phan has some advice for the CEOs.

He went back to the archives to find footage of Microsoft CEO Bill Gates’ antitrust deposition in the late 1990s. And he uncovered a few choice lessons for today’s tech heavyweights. 

In this episode of Hustle Hot Takes, Trung dishes out 5 anti-antitrust tips including an all-time classic Gates tactic: ask the prosecution to define the word “definition” (it actually happened). 

Watch →
Bottoms up

Can happy hour lose the booze?

Too many Zoom happy hours making you feel… not happy? As GQ reports, there’s a wide and wonderful world of low- and no-alcohol cocktails to appeal to the sober-curious. 

Lower in calories and less likely to leave you hungover, health-conscious sippers have been raising a glass… with something other than LaCroix.

And we don’t just mean White Claw. Nielsen recently called hard seltzer the “most resilient” alcohol category in the US — notching a 4x sales increase over last year — but there’s a bevy of new craft bevvies behind the bar.

They’re a sophisticated sip

Though the companies we reached out to remained mum on exact dollar amounts, all reported huge growth this year.


Curious Elixirs makes pre-mixed nonalcoholic drinks. Its Cocktail Club memberships have spiked 600% since mid-March, a spokesperson said. 

Haus ships low-ABV aperitifs D2C. The company launched last June and has seen orders grow 500% in 2020.

Kin Euphorics uses adaptogenics and nootropics —  botanic compounds said to boost brainpower — for a booze-free buzz.

Kin told us D2C revenue nearly tripled between March and July 2020 compared with the same period last year.

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5 stories to catch you up quick

1️⃣  Remington Arms Company, America’s oldest gun manufacturer, filed for bankruptcy for the 2nd time since 2018.

2️⃣  Some of TikTok’s biggest stars are leaving the platform for Triller, a rival app based in LA.

3️⃣  Speaking of jumping ship: Instagram is offering some TikTok creators money to switch to Reels, the new video service that Facebook plans to unveil next month.

4️⃣  Rite Aid has quietly operated one of the biggest facial recognition programs among retailers in the country, with ~200 stores using the tech over the last 8 years. 

5️⃣  The Consumer Electronics Show is going all-digital for 2021.

And 5 more to delight you 

1️⃣  How do you sell creams for butt acne or thigh chafing? Use slick, “sexy” packaging

2️⃣  We’re here for this take on the quarantine-fueled demise of denim: “Jeans are cardiovascular prisons.

3️⃣  The Loihi chip may simply be too powerful: Researchers have programmed it to make robots sniff out hazardous chemicals and feel the texture of a surface.

4️⃣  The new hotel marketing strategy: Make you nostalgic for summer road trips. 

5️⃣  The Brazilian city of Maricá has one of the world’s largest basic income programs — and it’s doing it all through its own digital currency. (See also: our story on local currencies in the US.)


If you work at Allbirds, Vuori, Gymshark, or NOBULL, you’re gonna wanna read this

As an ecommerce retailer, you know you have to stay on top of customer needs in order to keep ahead of your competitors.

But are you giving your customers everything they want?

(We’ll give you a hint: probably not.)

Now, a new company is overhauling a key section of the buying journey that hasn’t changed in over 20 years:

The post-purchase experience.

By revamping this oddly-outdated experience with features like Visual Tracking™, real-time delivery notifications and Amazon Prime-like support for order issues, Route has achieved crazy results — especially for a completely free tool:

  • Net profits → 11.4% increase
  • Post-purchase branded impressions → 246% increase
  • Customer engagement → 126% increase
  • Costly “Where’s my order?” inquiries → 45% decrease

In fact, Route is such a hit that they’ve already supported over 63,000 online retailers in 193 different countries.

Why are we telling you all this?

Simple — we love seeing our readers succeed.

See how Route is perfecting the customer experience over at their site:

En Route →
They’re Back

A new media brand is rising from Deadspin’s ashes

It’s called Defector Media. It’s from the team that quit in last year’s Great Deadspin Meltdown. And like the Deadspin of old, it’s a sports blog.

But Defector’s approach to the journalism biz has media gazers going 👀:

  • It’s employee-owned — writers control their IP and a 5% stake in the company. 
  • That makes it a high-profile example of an emerging model: the media co-op.
  • Subscriptions are Defector’s game. Eyeballs drove Deadspin’s ad revenue. Defector’s plans include a $69/year option for us plebes, and $25k/year for the “Mysterious Benefactor/Sicko Lawyer.”

Defector’s also noteworthy for what it isn’t: It ain’t on Substack. As Jacob Donnelly put it: “Each person could have gone and launched their own publication. Instead, they realized that working together and bundling from the start makes the case much easier to get paying subscribers.”

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Emmy nominations

Netflix took the top spot in streaming’s coup of the Emmy noms, beating out HBO (which had 107) for the 2nd time.

Tech’s bigwigs combined for 271 noms. Even poor, panned Quibi nabbed 10 of its own.

(Source: Protocol)

Hot Chicken Kicks

KFC Crocs, Whopper perfume: Why your roommate suddenly smells like fast food

Imagine — in the Before Times — your date takes you back to their place. They dim the lamps, turn on Marvin Gaye, and light candles that smell like a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder.  

These are situations we have to prepare for now. For reasons that may only be clear to Ronald McDonald and Colonel Sanders, fast-food brands are going big on fragrances:

  • This week, KFC debuted a new line of $60 Crocs that look — and smell — like fried chicken. And in 2016, the brand gave out chicken-scented candles to New Zealand fans.
  • Burger King held a one-day sale of “Flame-Grilled Fragrance” in Japan on April 1, 2015 — for ~$41.
  • In 2012, 110 lucky fans got free “Eau de Pizza Hut” perfume, which smelled like “hand-tossed” dough. 

It’s a pretty genius marketing tactic: Nothing gets people to order a breadstick-crust pizza quite like smelling it all day.

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How You’re Getting By

I’m finally investing in some home-office furniture that wasn’t inherited from dead grandparents. 😑 My desk is on our stairs landing, where the dog is not usually allowed. We’re both starting to feel a little ridiculous spending the days in the same house but separated by a floor, so I’m relaxing the rules a little to let her lay on the landing where I work. She just sighs at me most of the time. 🐶”

Christy Johnson (and Beulah), Cincinnati, Ohio

How are you coping with the pandemic? Send us your story, and we’ll share the best ones here.

The Hustle Says

Want to build a million-dollar business this weekend? Subscribe to Noah Kagan’s YouTube channel. This guy was #30 at Facebook, founded Sumo Group — and now, he’s teaching the tricks of the trade.

Meet Flippy, the AI assistant chef cooking up food for $3/hr… and it may just be the future of the quick service restaurant industry. Invest here while their SeedInvest is still open.*

Last year, we wrote about how the DTC houseplant industry was set to bloom. The Sill is one of the companies that has taken this opportunity to reimagine the houseplant industry. Founder and CEO, Eliza Blank, is joining us for a Q&A that you won’t want to miss. Join us tomorrow at 12PM PST

This business owner saved $7,000 a month in a pretty clever way. He analyzed top enterprise software and rebuilt their best features in Kintone’s plug ‘n play platform, saving him an average of $84K in software fees annually.*

*This is a sponsored post.

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Today’s email was brought to you by Michael Waters, Caroline Dohack, Belle Long, Trung Phan, and Bobby Durben.
Editing by: Nick “Smells Like Whopper” DeSantis, Hannah Mia Cannatunna (Luncheon Chef).

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