Darrin Rahn

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Great article Ben! Do you think populism and isolationist disputes are most likely common for large, complex product manufacturing settings? As mentioned above regarding aircrafts, or seen in auto or technology industries as well. Because, I think there’s a fundamental American attitude that mass-market value products like apparel and hardline goods will be manufactured overseas given labor costs, trade agreements, and manufacturing advantages. In many ways, American’s have accepted that “Made in the USA” clothing or pencils are simply out of the question in the 21st century and proceed with a case-closed mentality than rather fight to bring back jobs or manufacturing in these low costs sectors. However, I do think big-ticket high-tech items like airplanes, cars, iPhones, or steel receive further disagreement often leading to political wars, given the perceived manufacturing complexity and economic impact they can provide for the home countries. Why can one be easily justified, yet the other be a constant fight around the world?

I do think this debate is far from over and current populism and isolationist unrest around the globe will continue to be in news headlines for years to come!

Fantastic article Ninad, and I completely agree with Berit’s comment! As a consumer, when Disney-Fox launches its own streaming service, it would mean the consumer would be paying for streaming content that exclusively provides Disney-Fox entertainment. Meaning, consumers will likely still be paying for other streaming platforms and utilize multiple account log-ins for non-Disney-Fox content. Today’s current streaming service model is dominated by online distribution consolidators, like Hulu and Netflix, who package content from many entertainment and media companies and then provide access to consumers on a single platform. A one-stop shop streaming service platform is certainly preferred by consumers and is worth the added convenience for users – a premium, I believe, consumers will be willing to pay for.

Who do you think will win the future of the content streaming wars, will it be Netflix, Hulu, Disney-Fox, Amazon, etc.? My bias tells me Netflix and Hulu have the head start, and newcomers like Disney-Fox and Amazon are trying to play catch-up. Because as consumers continue to cut cords and move online chasing the best streaming experience, they expect to stream all the content they want, when they want it, and how they want to watch it. Will Disney-Fox deliver? The future will show us soon enough.

On November 27, 2017, Darrin Rahn commented on Shooting Oneself in the Foot(ball) :

Well researched article Yohannes – very informative! Let us assume absolute best case: implying EU governments provide European players with British work visas, UK can still source international player transfers (under the age of 18 years old) from the EU, and limited devaluation of the pound currency triggered by the Brexit. Even under these best-case circumstances, one could argue that UK/EU/abroad football teams, fans, and sports consumers will be less likely to support United Kingdom’s football sport because of the post-Brexit political and social tensions and negative consumer perceptions that have arisen. My point being is the UK will have an uphill battle in desirability to convince fans, players, and teams to respect each other despite the strained relationship globally (regardless of the three above issues mentioned), which will only compound with further challenges.

To pivot the conversation, you mentioned the desired growth of exporting football to America, Asia, and Africa economies. Do you think the boldly-present isolationism and populism movement within the United States for instance, also reduces the success of the football sports expansion? Are American’s simply less likely to embrace the unknown and resist the introduction of football as a primetime USA sport, instead, relying on their tried-and-true American football and NASCAR obsessions? It’s an interesting debate to consider, the role of sports as a venue to bring together or divide groups of people across the world. One must ask: how can sports better unite across borders? Are the Olympics successful at achieving a unifying spirit while promoting healthy competition across nations, what can be learned and applied to football?

On November 26, 2017, Darrin Rahn commented on No more Champagne? :

Fascinating blog post – Jonathan! This is one of the only articles that mention some of the marketplace benefits some competitors may have over their peers regarding the effects of climate change. Well done capturing a healthy discussion.

I have forever been intrigued by the Champagne region and respective branding efforts, so much that I have watched several documentaries and read a few books. It’s important to ask: Do you think Champagne’s appeal is solely superior product quality or the successful branding and awareness prestige that drives product sales?

The reason this answer is key for Champagne, regardless of any product quality change it may experience because of climate change, consumers may continue to flock to the well-built brand they have learned to love and adore over the past decades. And there has been some proof of this. So that being said, brands can’t last forever with inferior quality, but I would be interested to see the short-term and long-term consumer demand shifts as the region experiences impacts of climate change (assuming they didn’t change their production or marketing strategy in any way).

It must also be considered, are their scientific or technological solutions for improving product quality given the change in growing conditions? And so the question becomes: How far should Taittinger go to preserve the current way of doing things until it moves or shifts production in the pursuit of superior product quality?

On November 26, 2017, Darrin Rahn commented on Can the giant Ant replicate its model worldwide? :

Phenomenal article Zoe! As noted, Chinese consumers have welcomed the FinTech sector, embracing the use of technology to transfer funds, make loans, and manage wealth anywhere with the tips of their fingertips. Determining a global expansion strategy that addresses regional regulation, consumer technology trends, and fierce competition will not be easy though!

You mentioned that Ant Financial is a one-stop-shop compared to the fragmented FinTech market of the United States, for example, including PayPal, Apple Pay, Venmo, and the list goes on. How best do you think Ant Financial can go about integrating all these previously siloed technologies? Venmo is cute and fun – the little emojis to playfully pay friends after a dinner out on the town. But, is the Venmo consumer ready to manage their stock portfolio and saving bonds within an application they previously were sending witty payment one-liners? It will require a consumer mindset shift.

Another question I have, is what role does brick-and-mortar banking have in the future? I do believe, there will always be a traditional consumer who wants to walk into a bank to discuss getting a car loan or home mortgage (call me old-fashioned!). Banking is a product for many that is complicated and time confusing, and therefore consumers desire the convenience and service elements of a physical banking institution. Is it possible Ant Financial could leverage brick-and-mortar locations to drive adoption and increase speed on penetration in new markets?

I think the final challenges Ant Financial will face is to successfully build trusts with consumers regarding privacy and security and the idea one-offering can deliver competitiveness across so many unique bank product offerings.

On November 26, 2017, Darrin Rahn commented on The Beef with Beef :

Great article Lisa and strong follow-up comments Alison, Alona, and Daniel! Although converting mainstream consumers to vegetarianism has been mentioned above to solve the predicament the beef industry is in, I think it’s fair to say that’s an aspirational and unlikely solution given consumers unwillingness to change when it comes to tasty cheeseburgers and steaks cravings. Therefore, raising beef more sustainably or plant-based meat alternatives then become more reliable marketplace answers.

With the growing population, increasing beef demand (almost 2X in next 35 years) – requires the need for producing more food with fewer resources. This is a global issue we must all address together. I agree with Lisa’s focus on USA Beef production, given its role as the #1 most resource-intensive protein source and one of the most prevalent meats in American cuisine.

As noted, intensive R+D investment will be necessary to truly drive impactful, transformation change. These recommended solutions often require technological advances in feed, animal care, and land usage – all perceived ethical dilemmas for today’s modern consumer food values.

Does more feed supplements for environmental benefits offset consumer offense to increased processing/genetic modifications? (What about all-natural beef?) Another proposed solution is methane collection domes over livestock operations, but the beef industry trends are progressing towards free-range and pasture-grazed beef. How can the industry resolve the divergence to do “better-for-the-environment”, while making scalable solutions that align with evolving consumer food demands? It’s certainly not an easy task.

I think the next step is to engage the consumer in the dialog. There will be no better motivator for the Big Four beef companies than consumers voting with their food dollars at supermarkets and restaurants around the globe. Unfortunately, today, the mainstream consumer base doesn’t know JBS or Cargill – because they’re hidden behind grocery store brand names, distributors, and restaurant chain menus. The outstanding question then becomes, how do you build consumer awareness and drive a market that demands beef that is raised more sustainably? Putting environmentally-conscious consumers in the driver seat instead of the large, multinationals motivated by bottom lines is certainly a strong to start to resolve this highly complex industry dilemma.