Question #1: What are your backgrounds and the history of Market Defense?

*This Q&A Series came from a webinar with BeautyMatter in June 2020, entitled “How Prestige Beauty Brands Win on Amazon”. Kelly Kovack, CEO, BeautyMatter – Chad Annis, CEO, Market Defense – Vanessa Kuykendall, Vice President, Market Defense Kelly: Amazon was always going to dominate the ecommerce space. The question was never if but when. And I think the beauty industry as a whole was certainly not an early adopter when it came to Amazon. At first it was dismissed. Then brands sort of had their head in the sand or turned a blind eye as third party sellers were making a killing selling their products. And now Amazon has our full attention. And the thing that brands contemplate is to sell or not to sell. And if you do sell, how do you sell and do you manage it yourself or do you outsource it? These are just some of the questions when contemplating Amazon. But these questions also impact everything from maintaining brand integrity to retail partnerships. There’s a lot to consider because potential of Amazon is huge. So let’s get to it.  There is a whole industry that has cropped up around Amazon, and there’s no shortage of agencies all promising to unlock the revenue floodgates off the marketplace. I’m a big believer that context matters. So before we get to the nuts and bolts of the conversation, would you give us a quick overview of Market Defense and also your personal experience as it relates to the beauty industry and also your philosophy when it comes to working with brands on Amazon – so we can kind of level set and add some context around from which you speak. Because you really are experts, aren’t you?  Chad:  Thank you, Kelly. Hello, everybody. Glad to be here. I am the new one in the group. I came to the beauty world late – last five or six years – and had an education by fire by becoming an owner of a large third party seller on Amazon. It was beauty-centric. We had over 100 brands. We had 2000 skews and started back in 2007. I started as a platinum reseller when I bought an existing business and started to ramp it up only to have Amazon, turn its guns on many of the brands we had as customers. So I’ve experienced Amazon from both sides, both friend and foe.  And so, we pivoted business out of necessity.   I am a business guy with mostly common sense and a tenaciousness and desire to win versus a deep bench of beauty and ecomm. But, at Market Defense, we’re winning every day and I’ll turn it over to Vanessa. That’s my background.  Vanessa: Sure. I am a beauty girl through and through. I’m a Mac girl from the nineties wearing black lingerie to work. I’ve been through it – I’ve been in beauty over 25 years.  And how I met Chad was that I had been at dotcom for the last 10 years – so I’m probably being heard by a lot of my former of peers and brands from and And you know, when closed in 2016, I was thinking what I wanted to do next. I wanted to be where the next big thing in beauty was, and I wanted to be somewhere, maybe a little disruptive, maybe a little challenging. I just didn’t want to do the same thing over and over again. I was speaking to my friend who at that time was VP of global sales for a really big beauty brand. And he called me – he’s in L.A. I’m in Seattle. And he said, “What are you going to do with your life now?” And I said, “You know, that’s a really good question.”  He said, “Well, something just happened to me that I want to share with you.  I met this guy named Chad, and Chad cleaned up my Amazon business in less than 90 days.”  He told me that his brand had been kicked out of a couple of different big retailers because they said, “Why should we carry your product for full price on our shelves when you can buy it for 30% off an Amazon? So you either need to fix that pricing problem or we don’t want to carry you anymore.” So, he and Chad got together. Chad cleaned up his business. In less than 90 days, he’d removed over 100 resellers. He was now at full MSRP throughout the Amazon Channel and his other retailers were happy.  In fact, called him and said, “What are you doing? Your business is up 11% just this last month, we haven’t done anything.”  He said “To tell you the truth, I cleaned up my Amazon Channel”.  And they said “Great. That’s great.” Click – hung up the phone, no questions asked.  When I heard that story, I said, well, this guy is something.  That’s a business I want to be in. So we’ve been working together on this business ever since.