Digital Marketing Redux   //   December 22, 2022

The Modern Retail dictionary, 2022 edition

The year is coming to a close, but macroeconomic headwinds and demand challenges still abound.

There’s a good chance that everyone who works for a retail company got a memo with those buzzwords in their inbox in 2022. It was a difficult year for e-commerce, and executives coalesced around similar buzzwords, jargon and meaningless phrases to either explain away their mistakes, or to make the case that profitability and a return to growth were just around the corner.

Still, there are jokes to be cracked amid a difficult year. In what’s now an annual tradition, we updated the Modern Retail Dictionary with the hottest topics and most groan-inducing cliches our editors and reporters came across in their inboxes this year. And, what we really think when we read them. See past entries here, here and here.

From all of us at Modern Retail, may your new year be filled with fewer buzzwords.

15-minute delivery: A way to get discounted groceries for a month, until the delivery service runs out of business 

AI expert: Someone who used ChatGPT once 

Affiliate marketing: We hired a PR agency

Attribution software: A way for CMOs to justify their marketing spend, or a way to start a fight on DTC Twitter

Buy now, pay later: Debt, but branded for Gen Z

Commitment to value: Pushing more private label products 

Demand challenges: We thought pandemic growth would last forever 

Diversification: Spending 70% of your marketing budget on Facebook instead of 80%

DTC brand: Now basically any brand with a Shopify store and an Instagram account 

EBITDA: Not the same as profits!

Erewhon: A place where influencers post photos of their groceries 

Experiential retail: This store was designed to be Instagrammed 

Gen Zalpha: A brand’s way of pretending they are still going to be relevant by the time Gen Alpha grows up 

Grocery delivery: We use Instacart

Hired ahead of revenue growth: We thought we could raise VC money forever 

Inflation: A word that appeared in every memo in 2022 

Meet the customer where they are: Our explanation for why we, a premium brand, are on Amazon

Metaverse experience: We launched a store on Roblox 

Non-dilutive startup funding: Debt

Phygital experiences: Brands that went all-in on e-commerce during the pandemic, and are frantically trying to pivot back to stores 

Personalization: We know too much about you

Shrinkflation: Theft disguised as product strategy

Sustainable growth: What a VC-backed startup pivots to after not being able to close its round

Promotional activity: A retailer’s way of saying nobody is buying their products

Livestream shopping: We grew up watching QVC 

Lifestyle centers: Outdoor malls 

Lifestyle brand: We’re hoping people want to buy clothes the same place they buy sheets 

Macroeconomic headwinds: The new excuse for layoffs 

Marketing optimization: Our CAC is way too high 

Merch strategy: We’re trying to be Liquid Death 

Micro-influencers: We can’t afford a Kardashian

QR codes: Another way we can track you

Retention strategy: Sending customers more text messages 

Surprise sale: We have too much inventory 

TikTok: An app for DTC brands to pin their hopes on until there’s a new rumor about it being banned 

Twitter: A place to write sponsored threads promoting e-commerce software 

UGC: We ask our customers for free content

Web3 expert: Someone who bought one NFT 

Wholesale: Something that young DTC brands re-discover every year 

Zero-party data: Our website has a quiz