đź‘› Dupe economy

Monday, May 15, 2023 by Snacks
Playing spot the dupe on TikTok? (Christian Vierig/Getty Images)

Playing spot the dupe on TikTok? (Christian Vierig/Getty Images)

Playing spot the dupe on TikTok? (Christian Vierig/Getty Images)

Playing spot the dupe on TikTok? (Christian Vierig/Getty Images)

Last Week’s Market Moves
Dow Jones
33,301 (-1.11%)
S&P 500
4,124 (-0.29%)
12,285 (+0.40%)
$26,876 (-8.98%)

Hey Snackers,

Top YouTuber MrBeast is reportedly scooping up homes in a North Carolina neighborhood to create a Beast base for his family and employees. Next up: residents paid in Beast Bucks?

The Dow and S&P 500 fell for the week as investors saw no progress on a debt ceiling solution and fresh data provided more evidence of a slowing economy. US consumer sentiment plunged to a six-month low over worries that the federal government could default on its debt.


1. Dupes might be 2023’s biggest shopping trend as social media transforms the copyconomy

Birkin-shaped Amazon bag… #Dupe-tagged videos have billions of views on TikTok, with feeds full of frugal influencers unboxing look-alikes — or straight up counterfeits — of designer clothes, bags, and shoes (picture: $75 “Louis Vuitton” slippers). Users have also proudly shared dupes of skincare, makeup, and even toilet paper (“Sharmin”?).

  • Duping = new thrifting? Google searches for “dupe” hit a record this year, and “superfake” handbags have Reddit communities dedicated to finding the perfect Chanel replica.

  • Trending up: Last year, 37% of 15- to 24-year-olds surveyed by the EU Intellectual Property Office said they bought at least one fake product. That’s up more than double from 2019.

  • FYI: Not all dupes try to pass as designer. But even unbranded look-alikes can cross the legal line (think: mimicking the Birkin shape).

Countering counterfeits… has gotten tougher as more dupes are sold online (sorry, Canal Street). Many producers are thought to operate out of China, with supply chains set up like “Love Is Blind” pods: sales reps might talk to factories, but details like location are kept secret. It’s estimated that counterfeiters rake in trillions annually.

  • Fighting them: Designer brands like MoĂ«t Hennessy Louis Vuitton (aka: LVMH) spend millions each year taking legal action against counterfeiters. LVMH refused to partner with Amazon, saying it doesn’t do enough to take down fakes.

  • Joining them: Lululemon is hosting “Dupe Swap” events where it replaces customers’ look-alikes of its cult-favorite Align leggings with the bona fide $118 item. #Lululemondupe has 188M views on TikTok.


Social media has rebranded the copyconomy… Viral #baddiesonabudget opting for look-alikes are proud of their frugality, hence the rebrand of “knockoff” to “dupe.” That’s a threat to the real luxury market, which has boomed recently as wealthier consumers snatch up price-hiked Prada bags and Rolexes. Last year global luxury sales grew 22% and LVMH reported record sales and profit.

Zoom out

2. Stories we’re watching

IOU blues… On Friday, the Congressional Budget Office said there’s a “significant risk” the US gov’t won’t be able to pay all its bills in June if the debt ceiling isn’t lifted. If lawmakers don’t reach an agreement, the outlook isn’t rosy: Treasury Secretary Yellen predicted an “economic catastrophe,” and JPMorgan's CEO said panic could sweep markets. Meanwhile, some are proposing wacky workarounds, including a trillion-dollar coin and using the 14th Amendment to argue the debt limit is unconstitutional (President Biden said he’s considering that one).

Refill relief… After years of gov’t pressure to lower diabetes drug costs, last week Eli Lilly promised the Senate it would stop raising the price of its existing insulin meds. It’s a big deal, since Eli Lilly and its rivals Sanofi and Novo Nordisk supply 90%+ of the world’s insulin, and all of the US’s (#three-opoly). This year, all three announced plans to slash insulin prices, which could provide relief to 8M+ Americans who rely on the lifesaving drug. Companies charge as much as $200/dose, though it can cost less than $10 to make.


3. Coming up this week

John Deere in the headlights… Deere is expected to report on Friday, and the tractor titan hopes to reap the benefits of a heavy equipment boom that netted competitor Caterpillar a 26% profit bump. Deere’s recent moves suggest it’s aiming to be the Apple of agriculture. It’s leaning into software to release techy, self-driving machinery and investing in a satellite network to help connect advanced equipment in remote areas of the US and Brazil. By the end of the decade, Deere wants 10% of its revenue to come from software fees.

Bananas > blenders… Big box behemoths Walmart and Target are set to report, and the retail picture’s jumbled. Consumers have been cutting back on big-ticket items like TVs, clothes, and blenders, which typically have higher margins. At the same time, Walmart benefited as discount seekers turned to the value seller for groceries and other essentials. But when they last reported, both retailers gave tepid annual forecasts as Americans cut back on discretionary spending. We’ll see later this week if cooling inflation has shaken up those forecasts.


4. Last week’s highlights

  • Huney+: Disney will merge its streamers Disney+ and Hulu into one app as it tries to apply a tourniquet to its cash-bleeding streaming biz. Subscription fatigue has led to similar consolidations by Warner Bros. and Paramount.

  • Standby: After Southwest's holiday meltdown, the White House pitched new rules that would require airlines to compensate passengers for flight disruptions beyond just refunds (like: hotels, meals, cabs).

  • Gap: Goldman Sachs agreed to pay $215M in one of the largest ever gender discrimination settlements. Women made 82 cents on the dollar compared to men last year — only 2 cents more than in 2002.

What else we’re Snackin’

  • Tip: $4 juice, 20% gratuity? As tipping prompts pop up everywhere from coffee shop tablets to self-checkout screens, some Americans are crying “emotional blackmail” as tip creep takes over.

  • Bet: The University of Iowa is investigating dozens of student athletes over suspicions that they violated sports betting rules. Insider betting scandals are piling up, from college coaches to NFL players.

  • Flate: First it was the pandemic, then it was the avian flu. Corporate America may be leaning on “excuseflation” to keep prices high, even after the pricing effects of the emergencies they point to wane.

Snack Fact of the Day

Most of the light in the universe is invisible to human eyes (think: radio waves, UV rays)

This Week

  • Monday: Earnings expected from Grindr and Rumble

  • Tuesday: Earnings expected from Baidu, Home Depot, and Vodafone

  • Wednesday: Earnings expected from Jack in the Box, Wix.com, TJX, Tencent, Cisco Systems, Siemens, and Target

  • Thursday: Weekly jobless claims. Earnings expected from Bath & Body Works, L Brands, Walmart, Alibaba, and Dole

  • Friday: Earnings expected from Deere and Foot Locker

Authors of this Snacks own shares of: Amazon, Apple, Google, Disney, and Walmart

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