The Disruption Report #73 – A Potential U.P.S. Strike, Slack-Fill, Tik Tok Interns, and Anti-Influencers


Those of us who grew up in the 20th century remember when the Teamsters Union was a powerful force in the American labor movement. When you say Teamsters these days it feels like you are talking about history.

But not so fast. The Teamsters represent 340,000 U.P.S. workers who, in 2022, delivered 28 million pacakges a day. And they are taking tough. Union President, Sean O’Brien drew a bright red line when he said:

“We are sending a message to UPS that the days of concessions and walking all over our members are over.”

Sean Obrien, August 1, 2022

The current labor agreement ends July 31 with negotiations beginning in April. Keep your fingers crossed.

Slack-Fill, Coming to a Retail Shelf Near You

Are you familiar with the term “Slack-Fill?” It’s starting to pop up as companies try to work their way around price increases. Here is how the F.D.A. defines it.”

A food shall be deemed to be misbranded if its container is so made, formed, or filled as to be misleading.

(a) A container that does not allow the consumer to fully view its contents shall be considered to be filled as to be misleading if it contains nonfunctional slack-fill. Slack-fill is the difference between the actual capacity of a container and the volume of product contained therein.

Misbranding for Reasons Other Than Labeling, ec. 100.100 Misleading containers

In other words, it’s when a company uses a box that is too big for what it contains. The idea is to make consumers think they are getting more for their money than they actually are. Of course, the purchaser is not too happy when they open it and discover that they have been fooled.

Interestingly, it is the opposite of another practice, Shrinkflation; Shrinkflation is when a company slightly downsizes a package but retains the retail price from the original box.

Have you hired a TikTok Intern?

I have to confess I watch TikTok. It’s a continuous series of brief video snips that are at times brilliant and, more of the time, just plain stupid. It is, in short, addictive.

Because of my interest, I was intrigued by a New York Times article entitled, “Wanted: Interns Who Can Make TikTok Hits.”

TikTok has become so popular that companies are investing in those of college age because they are intuitive about TikTok’s power as an influencer. Here is how the article describes it:

Making TikTok content for brands is the hot new gig. As the social media platform continues to explode in popularity, brands are hiring college students and other young people — sometimes with pay and sometimes with college credits — to help them navigate the app, which can confuse newcomers with its trending voice snippets and song clips, unique vernacular and endless videos.

“Wanted: Interns Who Can Make TikTok Hits,” Sapna Maheshwari, The new york times, february 12, 2023

We are experiencing one of those humiliating moments in history when those of us who are over 22 years old, are clueless about how best to take advantage of the “newest thing” in marketing.

And Then There is the Anti-Influencer

Yes, you read that right. According to an Axios article, “The rise of the anti-influencers,” young people are feeling the effects of inflation and, as a result, are buying less. There are people, Anti-Influencers, ready to tell them how to do it.

The Axios article points out that this is the first social commerce recession.

The number of Gen Zers interested in influencers has dropped 12% since 2020, and the number who take note of what influencers wear has fallen 16% since then, per GWI data.

As a result, influencers — and others — are making viral videos listing trendy makeup products or shoes that aren’t worth the money, or what to cut when planning trips or weddings.

The rise of the anti-influencers,” Axios, February 12, 2023

Are anti-influencers a good or a bad thing? It’s good for young people who need to learn how to manage their money. It could be better for consumer goods companies that want them to spend, spend, spend.

Leave a Reply