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A new wave of micro brands

A few thoughts on building a brand around *your* niche

Here come the micro brands

After a decade of DTC growth where the money flowed like Monopoly, and countless VCs plush with cash routinely handed anyone with an idea $5M and a term sheet, those days are gone.

And gone are the days of your strategy to be the next Warby Parker, Away, or Harrys.

Building in the consumer world right now is strange enough.

On the one hand, it’s never been easier to create, well… anything. You’ve got access to every tool, website, database, and product factory imaginable, and the barriers to entry are lower than ever.

And yet, it seems harder than ever to break in. You have to be everywhere and nowhere. Sell everything and one thing. You need to have a community before a product.

Make more TikToks. Sell more stuff. Stay on trend. Yada yada yada.

All with the ever-present question humming in your head, “how big does it have to be?”

It’s a hum we’re all familiar with, as we’re the products of the last 15 years of the almighty startups to IPO pipeline, where if something doesn’t scale, it’s worthless.

And it’s ruined our ability to build shit that makes us happy and keeps a roof over our heads.

So here’s your permission to build the next micro brand. If you’re still reading, you’ve come to the right place.

Get HYPER focused

In addition to our bi-weekly calls, private community group, and resource archive available in the HYPER paid community, these regular reports will uncover how to think about your brand, the products you sell, and how to show up in the world.

Each report offers brand and product inspiration, surface trends and forecasting, provides vendor and manufacturing resources, spotlights people and brands you should follow, and much more.

Build a community. Launch a niche product. Grow it. Rinse and repeat.

This is the time to build.

Because the only thing we have left is how we make people feel, not how good our product is.

Build for everyone; get no one

Here come the micro brands.

Blackstock & Weber is doing it with penny loafers. You don’t get more classic American style than penny loafers, yet B&W found a way to iterate on a classic product in a tasteful and modern way.

Paynter is doing it with chore coats.

Talk about a product traditionally made for blue-collar work. They found a way to update it, make it aspirational, and, more importantly, build a community around it.

TBH is doing it, providing an alternative to big-brand hazelnut spreads.

In food and beverage, brands can find their niche by providing healthier, more value-focused alternatives to traditional staples. To reach new, more experimental consumers, they can use networks of independent grocers, new pop-up curators, and DTC channels to build affinity with their customers.

Trends to consider

The year of the cartoon

Having a character for your brand is something we’ve commonly seen within menswear over the last few years, and we’re also seeing it across the consumer and CPG space at large. This is a fun way to inject playfulness to your brand.

Getting fun with nick-nacks 🥖 

We love how Jacquemus nails creative invites to their runway shows; seeing how brands inject creativity into seemingly simple objects is refreshing. And the best part is that any brand can do this.

Regardless of who your customer is, these invites are a fun and quirky way to share with customers if you’re:

  • Selling a subscription,

  • Sending these for an event or party to influencers OR

  • Sharing a thank-you gift for making a purchase

Doing more with tote bags 👜 

If you’ve got one tote bag, you’ve gotten them all.

Or is it just that making a terribly boring and plain bag is easy? Either way, not all bags are created equal. If you make a few design tweaks, it completely changes the bag's appeal.

Ultimately, tote bags are a great upsell or free gift to offer customers. There’s a lot you can do to color, fabric, and silhouette; there’s a lot you can do to enhance the tote experience.

In May, we’ll do an official Bag Edit, showcasing vendors to use and cost analysis on different types of bags. Some products you can expect to see:

  • Puffer bags

  • Standard leather totes and bags

  • Canvas tote bags

Here’s a little more inspiration to get the wheels turning in the meantime…

Want to dive deeper into your brand? Join the HYPER community. Each member gets access to the following:

  • 2+ monthly group zoom workshops

  • Weekday group chat in Geneva to walk through questions and discussion

  • Database of brand references

  • Database of factories

  • Full access to all drops (and the needs of the community drive future)

Looking for dedicated strategy or product roadmap support?

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