Fall behind in practically any area of business these days, and the brand you pushed onto people yesterday could wind up getting shoved out of the marketplace tomorrow. Or even today.
Every year, 24/7 Wall St., an online financial news and opinion site, IDs 10 brands that are predicted to disappear in the United States before the end of the next calendar year. Factors considered in making the predictions include changes in efficiencies, financing and innovation. Other criteria include losses and declining sales, loss of customers, shrinking market share, rising costs that outrun revenues, sales or bankruptcies and announcements that a brand might be kaput.
24/7 Wall St. doesn’t always get it right, and admits as much. On the Yes side, Suzuki is no longer a viable brand in the U.S., as the site predicted last year, and Talbots was snapped up by a private equity company, more or less as called. However, predictions about the Oakland Raiders and Salon didn’t happen.
That said, here are the 10 brands that 24/7 Wall St. believes will be gone by the end of 2014:
J.C. Penney Co. Inc.
The retailing mainstay has had a rough go of things in recent years, though its supporters say that CEO Myron Ullman, who recently returned to helm the company, can turn things around. A $2.25 billion loan from Goldman Sachs and friends proves the point, they say. But with year-over-year revenues down by almost 25% and online sales having taken a 33% hit, the handwriting seems to be on the wall.
The e-reader from Barnes & Noble was late to the party, emerging on scene a couple of years after the Kindle from Amazon. The iPad added a layer of stiff competition, as have other tablets. The real killer? B&N has about 6 million online visitors per month. Amazon snags 130 million. Can you say “Sony Betamax”?
Martha Stewart Living Magazine
The publishing division of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia lost $62 million last year – something far more deserving of a prison sentence than the chump change Martha supposedly corralled via insider trading a few years back. Stockholders have to be hoping Martha hits up a major sugar daddy on Match.com, which she reportedly joined recently in hopes of hooking up with the right dude. Even an old dude. Who’s rich.
The daily deals site has been chasing Groupon’s tail since it started up. Given how Groupon’s stock price hit 1/10th its IPO price last year, that race isn’t likely to declare a winner anytime soon. AmazonLocal, helped by all that customer data, looks to do far better in this space, even though Amazon itself invested $175 million in LivingSocial in 2010. Maybe Martha should move her cash-hunt — sorry, man-quest — from Match to Amazon.
As ubiquitous as these cars can sometimes appear in snooty suburban areas, Volvo claims only 0.3% market share in the U.S. That might be worse than Studebaker and DeLorean combined, in their heydays. The real threat? Car companies with bigger U.S. footprints are adding luxury models that directly compete with Volvo, which still has a fairly limited (read: anemically competitive) model line.
With just 7% market share in the digital camera space, Olympus looks ill-equipped to compete with the likes of Nikon, Sony and Canon. Not to mention smartphone cameras that keep upping the megapixels, making a separate pocket digital camera all but obsolete.
What would be cool would be an announcement that the WNBA was merging with the NBA, with a tipoff classic of girls versus guys. Failing that, about the only way to generate sufficient interest in women’s professional basketball would be to make it the no-holds-barred equivalent of men’s hockey. (Ask any man from a large family with several sisters. It can be done.) Of course, there’s always the roller derby.
M&A activity in the wireless space has unfortunately left Leap out in the cold. A declining subscriber base and the need for a 4G build-out mean that Leap probably won’t be taking in as much as it looks to spend…until 2016, according to 24/7 Wall St.
Yet another foreign car company – again with but 0.3% of market share here (see #5, above) — bites the American dust. Why don’t Porsche and Land Rover, also with relatively tiny market shares, look to suffer the same fate? Their luxury brands are priced far higher per model than anything Mitsubishi makes. So, foreign luxury in, foreign family-geared out. Hear that, Honda and Toyota?
Road & Track
But for the fact that this title has been around since its founding in 1947 – just when cars were starting to be king – the disappearance of this brand would likely be but one more tired drumbeat in the hum-drum demise of print publications in general. Ad pages are down significantly, 24/7 Wall St. reports. Plus, sister publication Car & Driver (both magazines are owned by Hearst), while doing better that R&T in print, is also based in Ann Arbor, MI. Meaning that consolidation is a likely move. Survival online looks to be an option. But that’s what they all say nowadays.