The Hustle

Nutella thinks outside the jar

The richest 500 people in the world added $1.2T to their net worth in 2019 -- a 25% increase over the previous year. And for the rest of us? Welp… we hope you got a holiday bonus. Today:See you back here tomorrow for one final recap of 2019 -- and a look forward to 2020.

December 30, 2019


The richest 500 people in the world added $1.2T to their net worth in 2019 — a 25% increase over the previous year. And for the rest of us? Welp… we hope you got a holiday bonus. Today:

See you back here tomorrow for one final recap of 2019 — and a look forward to 2020.

Cookie competition is driving Italian chocolatiers absolutely (hazel)nuts

Ferrero, the Italian food company coveted for its cocoa products, and Barilla, the Italian food purveyor prized for its pastas, are locked in a bitter competition to create Italy’s favorite hazelnut-flavored cookie.

For a long time, life was sweet for both Italian chocolatiers

After Ferrero introduced Nutella in 1964, the hazelnut spread became a global favorite. And Barilla’s Pan di Stelle breakfast cookies, which debuted in 1983, also quickly became a huge hazelnut hit.

For the most part, both companies stayed in their lanes — Ferrero kept its Nutella in its jar, and Barilla focused on its cookies. 

Then, Barilla tried to make its own Nutella…

And you’d be nuts to think Ferrero didn’t fight back. Here’s how it went down:

And early sales were… sweet

Nutella Biscuits were a humongous hazelnut hit: Ferrero sold a stomach ache-inducing 5.9m boxes of its cookies in just 4 weeks.

Since then, the 2 chocolate colossuses have continued their cocoa competition: Barilla rolled out a new line of Pan di Stelle cookies just a month after Nutella’s launch.

In the race to rescue retail, big merchants are arming their associates with an array of apps

For some retail workers, numerous apps are necessary to serve customers who expect the convenience of online shopping when they step into a store.

Knowing how to fold a V-neck is only part of the job

At an Old Navy in NYC, floor-level sales associates are expected to bridge the gap between in-person and online shopping, the latter of which boasts instant gratification and endless inventory. These associates are issued handheld devices loaded with numerous apps, including:

Blame it on the ‘Zon

Amazon and other ecommerce giants move tons of products without staffing retail sales teams. Meanwhile, brick-and-mortar stores are struggling. In New York City:

So it makes sense that stores have taken efforts to offer the same conveniences as their online competition… and then some. 

Some have installed Easy Online Order Return stations — basically library book drops for buyer’s remorse.

Sales associates, meanwhile, have become much more than personal shoppers. They are cashiers, brand representatives, and database managers.


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In the past decade, the average price for a concert ticket increased 55%. What gives?

If you were shocked to see your Ed Sheeran ticket cost $160, don’t worry. You weren’t imagining it — concerts really are getting more expensive. The question is: Why?

Mostly, concert ticket prices increased because the entire business model behind popular musical artists has shifted away from album sales and toward concert ticket sales.

Musicians now make more revenue from concerts than albums

In the ’80s and ’90s, concert ticket sales accounted for 30% of musician earnings — today, they account for 75%, according to the Wall Street Journal

So promoters and musicians alike have made moves to maximize revenue from concerts — even if it means pricing out some fans.

Pricier tickets have succeeded in raising revenues (for the artists who can pull it off). In the past decade, the average gross per concert more than doubled to an average of $958k.

And concerts will continue to be moneymakers for major musicians

Some performers have already shifted their focus to near-constant touring.  Here are the highest grossing tours of the decade (inflation adjusted):

  1. Ed Sheeran (2017-19). Gross: $737m.
  2. Guns N’ Roses (2016-19). Gross: $563m
  3. Coldplay (2016-17). Gross: $546m
  4. AC/DC (2008-10). Gross: $507m
  5. Roger Waters (2010-13). Gross: $493m
  6. The Rolling Stones (2017-19). Gross: $416m
  7. Metallica (2016-Ongoing). Gross: $414m
  8. Pink (2018-19). Gross: $397m
  9. Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band (2012-13). Gross: $382m
  10. Bruno Mars (2017-18). Gross: $376m

Small business of the week: London’s rolled alcoholic ice cream

Scott Burgess and Harry Simpson met when they were 16, selling ice cream at a beachside hotel. Years later, they noticed a peculiar trend rolling across the United Kingdom: rolled ice cream.

They launched Good Times Roll in 2018 after finishing college. Their first shop was beachside in Devon, with an ice cream machine under a gazebo. They’ve also sold their tasty concoctions by the iconic Tower Bridge in London.

Good Times Roll grew quickly to over $100k in revenue, thanks in part to a viral video of its Jägerbomb ice cream — made with a combination of Jägermeister and Red Bull rolled together, and paired with a cheeky shot.

The young founders hope to keep riding the rolled cream wave by focusing on product innovation (lemon and beetroot ice cream, anyone?) and delivering a memorable customer experience through their team of “Roll Models.”

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What Else…

📺 Binging is good business. Netflix stock rose 4,181% over the past decade, making it the best-performing stock in the S&P 500.

🦄 The unicorn stampede is slowing down… slightly. According to year-end data, 142 companies achieved the mythical $1B valuation mark this year — a drop from the 158 who joined the unicorn club last year. This year’s new ’corns were most concentrated in the US (78), China (22), Brazil (5), and Germany (5).

👷 American workers are training their overseas replacements. According to an Axios report, AT&T — which received a $3B tax cut last year — is laying off thousands of employees and partnered with outsourcing firms to use its laid-off employees to train their outsourced replacements.

🐑 Sheep-drones are taking to the skies. Farmers in New Zealand, Australia, and Britain are using drones to herd their sheep. Sorry, Lassie…

🚘 Tesla is putting the pedal to the metal in China. Tesla secured a $1.29B loan from Chinese banks to build a Shanghai factory. The new production facility will be the electric carmaker’s first outside of the US.

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