Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Green tea matcha powder. Photo: Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/UIG/Getty

Amazon has beat out most of its competition with a simple philosophy: endless choice at super-low prices. But now, two new trends could be a warning sign for that model.

Why it matters: Food, clothes and makeup firms are among sellers that are becoming either highly customized or, at the other extreme, one-size-fits-all, says CB Insights' Zoe Leavitt. The common goal — the elimination of choice, and the confusion that can accompany it, thus challenging the very calling card of massive retailers like Amazon and Walmart.

The hyper-personal:

  • In Japan, Nestle is testing a diet program that collects blood samples from customers. From the DNA data, it sells them personalized teas and smoothies.
  • Function of Beauty, a hair care company founded by MIT alums, says it uses science to blend you the perfect shampoo and conditioner.
  • Bright Cellars, a subscription service run out of Milwaukee, sends members 4 curated bottles of wine a month after they fill out online surveys about their tastes.

The totally anonymous:

  • Brandless, a startup that recently raised $240 million from Softbank, is selling cheap toilet paper, toothbrushes, milk and other unbranded basics that come in one choice only.
  • Brandy Melville, a popular clothing brand among millennials, sells all its apparel in one-size-fits-all — though it's questionable whether the clothes actually do fit everyone.
  • Soylent, a Silicon Valley startup, pours meal replacement shakes into uniform, largely unmarked bottles for techies who are too busy to eat.

The bottom line: Brands can't compete with Amazon on price or convenience, so some are becoming expert curators, Leavitt tells Axios, promising top-notch quality in specific products and, now, eliminating the burden of choice.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear. Read episode 1.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.

Kids’ screen time up 50% during pandemic

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

When the coronavirus lockdowns started in March, kidstech firm SuperAwesome found that screen time was up 50%. Nearly a year later, that percentage hasn't budged, according to new figures from the firm.

Why it matters: For most parents, pre-pandemic expectations around screen time are no longer realistic. The concern now has shifted from the number of hours in front of screens to the quality of screen time.