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I had no idea AirBnB was launching these initiatives, I’ll have to check them out! I think these new platforms can be expanded slightly to include an already key stakeholder in AirBnB: hosts. Many times in my travels, I have stayed at an AirBnB where the host was present or staying nearby. These more active hosts seem to be extremely proud of their city, often have some time on their hands because they are retired or have flexible schedules, and really relish the interaction with tourists. Perhaps AirBnB should open an additional category of products in which customers stay the night, but as part of their stay, the host becomes a kind of part-time tour guide who can arrange day trips or partial-day tours. AirBnB could generate additional fees from offering this type of “full-service” experience and not have to build significant amounts of new infrastructure to get it up and running.

Very interesting initiatives from the NYT to keep up with digital competitors! What leaves me interested after this post is the effect of digitization on the consumer. Today, it seems like news sources, both new and traditional, are pushing stories and tidbits to consumers based on what the consumers want to hear, not based on all the important news of the day. Of course, this leads to more tailored content that is more likely to please and interest in the reader. Nonetheless, as was seen in the recent election, people in general do not have a good sense of what is going on outside of the topics or opinions that interest them. I wonder if we can challenge news outlets with a difficult task: How can news outlets provide well-rounded news to individuals profitably so that news and information flows do not become subject to the feedback loop based solely on reader interest?

On November 20, 2016, alex commented on Nike’s Play in the Digitization of Fitness :

Interesting problem, shame to hear that so much research and the first-mover advantage didn’t pay off here! I agree with many of the key reasons for the failure of the Nike initiatives – losing talent to Silicon Valley, partnering with a company that has similar ambitions, creating a confusing system for tracking exercise progress. An additional reason I think this technology failed was that it was brand-specific. A lot of individuals use non-Nike apparel but are still interested in tracking their performance and improving. This might be where Fitbit was at an advantage – it can be paired on any mobile device with any brand of workout apparel & equipment. While I’m sure Nike was hoping to drive sales of its other products in addition to the Fuelband, this may be a scenario where creating a platform that is revolutionary may be able to penetrate the market more quickly if it is not associated with an existing brand.

On November 20, 2016, alex commented on Macy’s: America’s Omnichannel Store :

I had no idea Macy’s has been so successful with its digital applications! Especially in light of trends hitting the department store industry overall. I like the idea of digitizing the in-store experience, since there are many aspects of the online clothes shopping experience that cannot be matched in a store. Linking people’s online searches with the RFID technology in stores, the Macy’s website could show customers where exactly in the closest store the products in the customer’s shopping basket are located and recommend they try it on before buying. It can also potentially pair the customer with a customer service representative at the store to provide in-person advice once the customer arrives at the store. This would help to maintain higher utilization of the workforce if customer visits are anticipated and also streamline the customer process by guiding them with a map directly to their purchase of interest. Along the way, Macy’s could continue to reap the benefits of incremental sales.

On November 20, 2016, alex commented on Digitizing the Grocery Store :

Fascinating use of digital pricing we just learned about in marketing! This is a great way to simplify in-store pricing processes and decrease labor costs, as you mentioned. I’m curious if the EPL manufacturer’s estimate for payback period is representative of grocery stores’ experiences with the technology – given the high cost of installing this technology and training staff to use it, I would be surprised if the store started seeing returns on investment in one year.

On a more positive note, I think this could be an interesting platform for coupons. If the in-store pricing system is linked to a customer’s mobile account and is aware of a customer’s purchase habits, coupons can be automatically pushed onto the customers’ mobile device to promote products that the customer hasn’t purchased in a while or try to entice the customer to switch brands. Whenever a discount is available, I’m sure the customer would be happy to hear about this without having to flip through coupon books!

I agree, I think diversifying is the way for Vail to go in order to secure more predictable revenue streams! I would use Las Vegas as an example of a success story in terms of adding offerings to meet consumer tastes. Back in the day, I think the city was really just a gambling kind of town. Today, many people go to Las Vegas for nothing to do with gambling: nightclubs, theater, shopping, poolside, nature, and so much more. Vail, similarly, can really push well-executed marketing that can communicate, “We’re not a ski resort, we’re an experience for you and your SO or you and your family.” Although space is constrained between the mountains, Vail might consider building more attractions that are not just based on the outdoors so that the complex appeals to a wider variety of guests. It can be a place to get away and relax, rather than just a place to get outside.

On November 7, 2016, alex commented on Nutella, Why U No Last Forever? :

We must save Nutella!! Interestingly enough, it may be urban legend, but Nutella purportedly started because there were serious shortages of cocoa during one of the world wars in Italy, so the company started substituting some of its cocoa with hazelnut in its chocolate spread, and now we’re thankful for it. I think Ferrero can take option 3 one step further: develop internal expertise in hazelnut, cocoa, and palm oil farming, scope out geographies in the world where growing these crops is feasible, and build the preliminary infrastructure and network so that the farms are large enough and self-sustaining for the long run. By moving upstream, they will maintain better control of their supply chain and also have the knowledge base to react to changes in climate over the long run. Granted, this is more expensive, but if done once correctly, this strategy could secure supply for years to come.

On November 7, 2016, alex commented on Is Australian Wine Going the Way of the Tasmanian Tiger? :

Interesting problem I didn’t know about before! It seems like a good number of posts are about the effect of climate change on agriculture products – coffee, chocolate, etc. – so unfortunately wine isn’t the only food product that is affected by environmental changes. Should companies that produce food or drinks consider diversifying their businesses, based on the assets they already hold? Considering TWE has invested so much in land, equipment, intellectual capital, it might be worth re-purposing the land it owns for different crops or even livestock. That being said, I don’t want to be beholden to the sunk cost fallacy – if it’s time to move on to different regions, best to move on! Nonetheless, diversifying the product mix may lead to lower risk and less seasonality if different crops could be planted on different plots of land.

On November 6, 2016, alex commented on Under Water: The City of Miami Beach :

Great read, and sad to hear such a great city facing so much risk! I have read articles about Amsterdam and Venice, and they are actually considering a radical approach to deal with rising water levels: building gigantic dams all the way around the city a few kilometers into the ocean. These structures will keep the water levels directly around the city at current levels while the ocean levels continue to rise outside of the dams. Granted, this is highly risky, and it is arguably the same technique that has been leading to sea-level problems in New Orleans and Amsterdam for centuries. It is also significantly more expensive than the drainage updates you describe, but it’s a more extreme option that the city might consider if levels get so high that even a retrofitted sewage system can’t keep up.

On November 6, 2016, alex commented on Is the world running out of chocolate? :

Great research! I was aware that cocoa production is unlikely to keep up with our current levels of demand but had not thought through so many options. I particularly like the final proposal, the economies of supply chain scale. Unfortunately, as you mentioned, cocoa is not the only crop in the equatorial region that is suffering from the effects of climate change. Coffee is another widely consumed food item from that region that is at risk of environmental shifts, and many other foods for both global and local consumption are affected. One of the best ways to ensure agricultural sustainability is to diversify the crop mix, which will strengthen the soil and increase mineral content. It will also help local farmers diversify their streams of income. Finally, Mars could partner with non-competitors and still accomplish better sustainability practices. If Mars were to partner with large coffee producers (e.g., Illy, Starbucks) or fruit producers, which do not compete directly with the chocolate aisle, all the companies would jointly benefit from shared sourcing.