The Pursuit of Happiness: Brands in the Business of Making You Smile
It's been a tense year. Research by a Western Michigan University team found that COVID-related social isolation was a very strong predictor of depression, anxiety, and stress. At the same time, a recent survey conducted on behalf of the American Psychological Association concluded that 68 percent of U.S. adults say that the 2020 U.S. presidential election is a significant source of stress in their life.
While this year isn’t shaping up to be one of the great ones, there are companies in the business of taking minds off of angst-generating issues. Here are a few that are in the business of making people smile.
1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. (Tii:FLWS)
Many people can't see older or vulnerable loved ones in person during the pandemic but wish to send them tokens of affection, leading to a boom in the flower delivery business. 1-800-FLOWERS, in particular, has been one of the winners. The company’s platform features a host of brands, including 1-800-Flowers.com, 1-800-Baskets.com, Cheryl’s Cookies, Harry & David, PersonalizationMall.com, Shari’s Berries, FruitBouquets.com, Moose Munch, The Popcorn Factory, Wolferman’s Bakery and Simply Chocolate. In its most recent quarter, the company's total revenue increased by 51.5 percent to $283.8 million.
Sony Corporation (Tii:SNE)
Three out of four people in the U.S. play videogames, an increase of 32 million since 2018. Many devices, such as Sony's popular PlayStation models, allow for players in separate homes to play games together – providing companionship during a time of social distancing. In their most recent earnings call, Sony executives said total PlayStation user gameplay time in September was up 30 percent over the same period last year. In their most recent quarter, Sony reported earnings of $18.31 billion. Consumers can expect the company’s latest gaming platform, the PlayStation 5, to be one of the must-have gifts for this holiday season.
Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc. (Tii:DNKN)
When nothing else is helping, ice cream can put a smile on faces – particularly with children. Baskin Robbins, a subsidiary of Dunkin' Brands, offers ice cream at over 5,600 locations nationwide. While many sectors have seen sales declines during the pandemic, Baskin Robbins has experienced smaller decreases. According to their second-quarter earnings report, sales dropped only 6 percent compared to the same quarter last year. Executives observed that a decline in the number of customers was offset mainly by an increase in the average order.
Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (Tii:WSM)
Many people find comfort through food, and cooking at home has seen a boom during the pandemic. More than half of all shoppers say that they eat at home more often than before the pandemic and plan to continue cooking at home regularly post-COVID. Williams-Sonoma offers high-end cookware, exotic ingredients and even some luxury pre-cooked meals for those who prefer to eat at home. The company has done well in the pandemic, with net revenue increasing to $1.49 billion in their most recent quarter, up from $1.37 billion in the same period last year.
Chewy Inc. (Tii:CHWY)
It’s not unusual for pet lovers to find comfort in gift shopping for their furry friends. And with breeders, shelters and rescues all report unprecedented demand as people fill the voids created by social distancing, pet retailers have been doing quite well. Chewy.com offers a wide range of pet foods, toys and accessories to help people ensure that their new family members have everything they need. And, Chewy's sales have risen along with the increase in pet ownership. The company reported net sales of $1.7 billion in its most recent quarter, a 47 percent year-over-year increase. And while those pets may not be able to smile, no doubt these four-legged friends helped their caretakers forget about their daily struggles.
What products make you smile? By exploring the brands you love, you can expand your chances of benefiting from the companies who make your life a little better.