Peer Groups

We’ve all become hyper-aware of the echo chamber (particularly within our social media channels and news outlets). According to techopedia, an echo chamber is, “a situation where certain ideas, beliefs or data points are reinforced through repetition of a closed system that does not allow for the free movement of alternative or competing ideas or concepts.” I think we can all agree it’s a bad thing, right? And while we have cleaned up our Facebook channel or diversified our news outlets to combat such insular thinking, have we taken the same hard look at the business peers we surround ourselves with? If we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with are we spending time with the right people?

While many businesses are looking to tech and commerce sites for inspiration, it seems some publishers commit the egregious error of continuing to only look inward (other print pubs) for guidance. Why is that bad? Delay and apathy to name a few. “Oh, our customers don’t expect that of us.” Or, “Oh, but we’ve always done it this way.”

To inspire you to diversify your business peer group or think partners, take a look at 5 (perhaps less-obvious) industry partners you will want to add to your peer group.

E-Commerce - Shopify

Shopify is a game changer for small, direct-to-consumer businesses, putting the power to do e-commerce in the hands of most with a few drag and drops. What might have taken a floral shop months and lots of money to complete, can now be done in days for as little as $30 per month with no outside help. And if you think that the service is only great for a mom and pop shop, you’ll be interested to know that Shopify has a solution for even larger businesses, accounting for a large part of their revenue and adaptation. What could Shopify mean for publishers? Affordable, out-of-the-box solutions for fulfilling a product of any kind.

Startup Services - WeWork

If you’re familiar with any coworking spaces, even those beyond WeWork, you know by now that the concept is more than just a place to set up your laptop. Beyond the stylish conference rooms, activity spaces, and food & beverage options, WeWork is building a community. From workshops and networking events, consulting services, and discounts on services and goods, WeWork is a membership program in action. To be a member of WeWork means to be informed, active, and hip. They’ve established a brand, created a community, and monetized their product in other ways. Sound familiar?

Communications/Technology - Slack

Less than a few years old and worth over $5 billion, Slack has transformed business both internally and externally. From a simple message to your co-worker, “Hey, meeting has moved to 9:30” or potentially a customer service resolution, Slack has torn down communication barriers and made it fun to do so.  /giphy, anyone? Retailers, publishers, brands, managers, owners, publishers and more from all sectors, all levels have adapted the communication tool.

Beauty - Glossier

With a largely younger demographic, Glossier changed the game in beauty as one of the industry’s first disruptor. Focusing on simple make-up solutions predominantly marketed through social media, the brand built a swarm of followers and influencers. And not a following for market’s sake, but as CEO Rachel Weiss believes, co-creators, “the brands of the future are going to be co-created.” A concept that definitely may trend beyond the beauty sector.

Home Goods - Casper

While Casper is not the first retailer we’ve seen to start online and then open a brick and mortar, they are likely the first retailer opening a nap room as part of their retail strategy.

Constantly innovating, “what Casper understands and too many mattress retailers like Mattress Firm don’t, is that they are not just in the business of selling mattress and bedding products. They are in the business of providing customers with a better sleep and shopping experience.” Any business that has flipped a product as boring and dull as a mattress is a friend to keep close.

Who is in your top 5 business peer group? See anyone I missed? Shoot me a note at to tell me all about it.