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On November 20, 2016, BM commented on Can Aaptiv Digitalize the Boutique Fitness Experience? :

As someone who frequents boutique fitness studios, I loved this post – thank you for sharing!

I agree with your concern regarding the sustainability of Aaptiv and other similar apps, as there is little barrier to entry in this space. Have you heard of Peloton? It’s a boutique spinning studio that livestreams classes from its NYC HQ. Customers around the world can purchase the Peloton bike for use in their homes, join classes that are taping live in NYC, and compete against other riders on the leaderboard (both those riding in class and at home). It seems that Peloton is building a more differentiated product by combining hardware (i.e., the bike) with software (i.e., the ability to livestream). However, the main downside to this product remains its price. At $2k (plus a $39 monthly subscription fee), it only makes financial sense for consumers who’ll use it religiously.

On November 18, 2016, BM commented on Sephora’s Digital Makeover :

Interesting read! It is amazing how quickly Sephora has transformed the beauty industry.

I like your idea that Sephora could launch a subscription box offering to compete with Birchbox. Given Sephora’s scale, it likely has a ton of purchase / browsing data that it can leverage when deciding what products to send its different types of consumers. On the technology front, I’d imagine its main challenge would be finding ways to synthesize all of this data into actionable insights. Specifically, it could seek to develop a predictive algorithm that scores a customer’s affinity for trying a new category, product, or brand based on past purchases and look-a-like customer profiles. Sephora could then include such complementary products in its subscription offering, with the end goal of increasing customers’ share of wallet by introducing them to products they’re most likely to enjoy.

On November 18, 2016, BM commented on Bea-con and Carry On :

Interesting article! I also wrote about Macy’s, and while I am still generally bullish about beacons, I agree that there are many risks to successful adoption.

One of the main limitations, as far as I understand, is that beacon communication is currently one-way: beacons push data, often in the form of marketing messages, to nearby smartphones. I like to think that in the future, there will be opportunities to also collect data from passerby smartphones. This way, retailers will have a better understanding of how their customers actually behave while in stores. Eventually, as the technology becomes more sophisticated, they can match shoppers’ in-store behavior with their digital habits to create a unified view of their customers, thereby enabling more personalized marketing.

On November 18, 2016, BM commented on NikeID: polishing the shoe buying experience :

Fascinating article! I’ve never used NikeID, but I’m curious to try it, especially with Black Friday / Cyber Monday around the corner.

I agree with your point that NikeID offers huge value to customers by giving them access to so many more design options than they would traditionally receive. NikeID also elevates the brand beyond athletics, into an enviable fashion brand. This presents a huge opportunity for Nike, especially with the rise of “athleisure,” a category of apparel catered to consumers looking for clothes that are durable enough to wear while training and fashionable enough to wear day-to-day. Thus far, it seems that Nike’s strategy of cultivating a fashion following has succeeded. According to the NYT, Nike was the most Instagrammed fashion brand of 2015, garnering ~48M hashtag mentions (2.5x Prada, the second most Instagrammed brand).


On November 18, 2016, BM commented on Clear (jet)Blue Skies :

This article is incredibly interesting, especially given how beholden we are to JetBlue in Boston – thank you for sharing Greg!

On the topic of customer-facing innovation, it also strikes me that JetBlue has been a leader among domestic airlines in incorporating technology to improve its in-flight experience. Specifically, it was one of the first domestic airlines to install satellite TV across its fleet. It has also recently begun offering free in-flight WiFi (coined Fly-Fi). In an age when many airlines are cutting back on amenities to drive profitability, JetBlue is bucking the trend, incorporating simple, consumer-friendly technologies on its planes to establish a competitive advantage.


Really interesting point re: funding, Rachel!

Adding to your point, I wonder if Logan can ask its airline partners for investment? For those airlines for which Logan is a hub, such as JetBlue, there is an obvious incentive to ensure resiliency. Depending on the cost of these measures, airlines may actually save money in the long-run by helping to institute them. After all, the operational and financial penalties for cancellations and delays are steep, and they often compound throughout an airline’s network, as we observed in our study of United.

Fantastic post. I spent a summer in Venice and agree with you that its cultural legacy is well worth the billions of dollars being invested to prevent it from sinking! At €5.5B, MOSE seems like an incredibly expensive undertaking, but I’m sure there is a strong business case (beyond cultural relevance) to warrant investment. After all, if Venice sinks (literally), so does its economy (figuratively). I’m curious to learn more about the other initiatives the Italian government has proposed to solve this issue? Are there any solutions that are less capital intensive and more flexible (i.e., that can be instituted quickly in emergency situations)? What can Italy learn from other coastal geographies at risk of sinking, and vice versa?

On November 7, 2016, BM commented on Imagine a World Without Coffee… :

Great read – thank you Brad! In addition to the financial measures you suggest, I wonder if there are other strategic and operational levers that Starbucks can pull to assert greater control over its supply chain. For example, as Central America and Brazil become less hospitable to Arabica beans, are there any other regions that may evolve into prime locations for such harvesting (given the changing weather patterns brought about by global warming)? If so, how can Starbucks incent farmers in these regions to start growing Arabica? Alternatively, are there other variations of coffee beans that are less impacted by climate change? If so, could Starbucks begin incorporating these beans into their menu?

On November 7, 2016, BM commented on Ben & Jerry’s: If it’s melted, it’s ruined! :

This was incredibly interesting – thank you Rachel! Although I knew Ben & Jerry’s began in Vermont, I had no idea that they still produce exclusively in the Northeast. I see your point that it may make sense for the organization to open factories across the USA, depending on demand patterns in other parts of the country, as doing so would reduce emissions from transportation. To avoid such heavy capital expenditure, I wonder if they could leverage other Unilever plants, for example those producing such brands as Klondike, Breyer’s, etc. If these other plants are more geographically diverse, they may enable Ben & Jerry’s to lessen their carbon footprint from distribution (… providing the inputs into the final product aren’t produced exclusively in the Northeast – e.g., milk from cows in Vermont).

On November 7, 2016, BM commented on Dollar Menu in Danger :

I agree with both Carl and CE. If McDonald’s were to partner with more sustainable suppliers, there would be opportunity to market these advancements to millennials, who’ve grown accustomed to the concept of farm-to-table. There has been an explosion of healthy, farm-to-table fast casual restaurants, most of which are regionally focused (e.g., B.good, Dig Inn). Meanwhile, several large fast food chains such as Chipotle and Panera have made efforts to become more “natural” (i.e., organic, preservative-free, antibiotic-free) and fervently promoted such gains in their marketing collateral. Becoming THE sustainable fast food chain could provide a nice marketing angle for McDonald’s and to Carl’s point, help the brand acquire newer, younger customers who are seeking healthy fast food options. Depending on cost, McDonald’s could think about grouping sustainable products into a higher-end, higher-priced product line, separate from its existing menu.