Aparna Bansal

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On November 20, 2016, Aparna Bansal commented on ZALORA: the online revolution of the fast-fashion industry :

Thanks for the insider info on Zalora, Clara 🙂

When I lived in Indonesia, the 2 things I especially loved about Zalora was that they catered their clothing more to petite Asian sizes in a way that more global brands such as Zara and Mango didn’t. They also offered summer clothes all year round, taking into account the unique weather conditions of the geography better than European and American brands that sold their products in Southeast Asia. I would be curious to know how Zalora is responding to the growing e-commerce competitive threats in the region — both local/regional players such as Zalada and Paraplou and global giants such as Amazon and Zara. Are they taking any strategic actions to stay ahead of the competition? Do they have a first-mover advantage in this market, or do the second movers have more benefits?

On November 20, 2016, Aparna Bansal commented on Digital Gainz : The Kayla Itsines Phenomenon :

Really interesting post! I love how Kayla blended social media with fitness to make her workouts accessible to the masses. The decision to develop an app was also a smart move on her part as a way to create “stickiness” for her product, given that the original BBG guide was so easy to send to someone else for free. But the fitness app market is definitely a highly contested space, with some big players such as Nike already aggressively playing in it, and Kayla will have to keep developing her app further to stay relevant. She could consider partnering with wearables such as Fitbit to allow users to track their fitness levels and progress. She could also allow for a greater degree of personalization, offering users the ability to customize their workouts based on their specific fitness goals. Finally, she might want to consider leveraging her image as a “fashionable fitness model” to offer additional advice and how-to’s on her platform on topics such as athletic wear, diets and daily nutrition.

On November 20, 2016, Aparna Bansal commented on Saving the Physical Bookstore: Barnes & Noble Edition :

Interesting read, Kenzie. I really like your point around B&N trying to be a “third place” and unlike some of the commenters above, I’m actually more optimistic about their potential in this area. I think going forward, they can look to leverage and monetize the experiences they offer more than the physical books themselves – for example book readings, book clubs, lectures and talks by authors, podcast recordings, etc. By charging visitors a nominal fee for tickets to attend these events or join these loyalty clubs, they might be able to draw in more revenue (and they could also potentially generate more revenue from their in-house cafes by bringing in increased foot traffic). I wonder if they can even go beyond their traditional offerings and partner with universities or online learning website such as Coursera to provide literature programs and courses, leveraging their vast supply of books. As the need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively in English is a key criteria in any job, I could see there being some demand for these kinds of programs and B&N could potentially capitalize on this and position themselves as the one-stop shop for anything reading-related.

Super interesting post, Sanchali! As an avid NYT reader, I’m always disheartened to hear of their declining revenues but am also bullish about some of the digital ventures they’re pursuing. Their podcasts, for example, are steadily improving and some even have a comparable number of regular listeners to podcasts produced by NPR and Gimlet. The podcast industry seems to be growing (thanks to the need for entertainment on long commutes in major cities) and it can grow to be another importance source of revenue for NYT — both in terms of subscriptions (if they choose to charge listeners) and advertising.

New businesses such as Skimm are also trying to condense news down into bite-size daily digests targeted toward busy, young professionals and NYT can capitalize on this trend as well. They’ve started doing this already with their “daily evening briefing” emails to subscribers, but they can leverage these further by offering more advertising space on these briefings and perhaps also triggering a push notification to app users to read that day’s briefing to increase viewership.

On November 20, 2016, Aparna Bansal commented on Disrupt Your Life With Headspace: Meditation for the 21st Century :

Super interesting post, Brian! I’ve never used Headspace myself, but I went to a yoga/meditation retreat when I was 12 and find myself using the breathing and mindfulness exercises I learned then even now to center and calm myself. I think the app could play a huge part in improving our everyday mental health, and wonder if there is a way for them to tie up with insurance companies (in the same vein as products and services such as Fitbit) and incentivize more of their consumers to use the app on a regular basis to lower their anxiety levels — which can positively impact their overall health and reduce their need to see medical professionals. They would probably have to do more research on the actual health benefits of meditation before insurance companies would be willing to do this, but definitely an area worth looking into I think.

On November 7, 2016, Aparna Bansal commented on Climate Calling! Airtel India and ICT in the Age of Global Warming :

Really fascinating to learn about the role that Airtel has played in environmental protection in India, particularly in the context of farming. I wonder if the kind of real-time information that Airtel is able to provide farmers on commodity prices can be extended to other industries and geographies as well. I can definitely see the value of a telco adopting similar services in Indonesia for example, where farmers are vulnerable to similar commodity price fluctuations or may require special assistance during tsunamis, earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters (disasters that are in fact frequently tied to the effects of climate change). Perhaps Airtel can consider expanding these initiatives on a global scale, partnering with telco’s across emerging markets and spreading their best practice knowledge in these areas.

On November 7, 2016, Aparna Bansal commented on Only The Resourceful Will Survive :

Really interesting to read about the organization you started, Mark! I like how it touches on a key issue relating to climate change – those that are most affected by the effects of climate change are often those with the fewest resources, and they also play a big part in perpetuating it without necessarily knowing it. For example, in India, many poor communities still use modes of transport and cooking that contribute heavily to air pollution, but are unable to change their daily habits due to the modest income they live on and sometimes the lack of awareness/education on climate change issues. Due to their lack of proper living conditions, they are also the first to be negatively affected by air pollution, flooding, and other effects of climate change. While several NGOs in India aim to target poverty and education, it is important that they integrate climate change awareness into these goals. I love your idea of encouraging and funding entrepreneurs within these communities to innovate and create more sustainable solutions – with the right tools and resources, I think they will be the best equipped to make impactful changes on pollution levels.

Really interesting that Levi’s is trying to influence customer behavior to reduce energy use. I have read about a number of companies that have tried such initiatives, such as Marks & Spencer, which reduced the recommended water temperature at which their clothes need to be washed on all their clothing labels. I think it’s also important for apparel companies to continue to innovate in their fabrics so that customers can engage with them in a way that is less wasteful (e.g. longer durability, less washing required, sweaters that are warmer with less fabric required, etc.) I wonder if Levi’s is pursuing any kind of innovation in their denim fabrics to encourage fewer washes (e.g. easy stain removal, anti-odor technology) – otherwise, getting people to wash their clothes less is a hard sell for personal hygiene!

On November 7, 2016, Aparna Bansal commented on Banking on change :

Really interesting to read about the role that banks and financial institutions can play in helping fight climate change. I consulted for a number of financial institutions in Indonesia and they are at a much more early stage in terms of their thinking on how to promote a green economy. Many of their major initiatives currently revolve around an increasing focus on digital channels rather than brick-and-mortar branches, to reduce their operating costs, create a more convenient experience for their customers and also to reduce their energy use and carbon footprint. Going forward, I hope they take the lead of banks such as BOA in designing financial products that facilitate lower carbon emissions, particularly given that a lot of “dirty” industries dominate the Indonesian economy, including mining and oil and gas.

Having seen how popular Zara has become in emerging markets such as Indonesia and India, I was really interested to learn about the efforts that the company is taking to become more environmentally friendly. In a way, the very business model of the brand goes against sustainability, since they produce their clothes in bulk and ship them across the world on such a frequent basis, presumably creating a lot of waste and consuming a lot of energy. Perhaps they can consider tweaking the frequency with which they change their product offerings – maybe once every 3 weeks instead of 2 weeks. Even such incremental efforts could have a significant impact on energy usage and waste. Alternatively, they could have certain collections that change rapidly and some that stay on for a longer time period (e.g. for a whole season) Out of the other initiatives you mentioned, I think their recycling initiative is likely to be most effective given that a number of other brands have had success in this area (Patagonia, LL Bean, Nike, etc.). But I wonder – is it more effective to just reuse these fabrics by donating them or to recycle the fabric to use it in the production of new clothes? The former consumes less energy, but the latter might make more of a long-term impact.