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On November 20, 2016, eahern commented on MYMAGIC+: DISNEY’S BIG BLUNDER? :

While in some ways the RFID bands can make for a more seamless consumer experience, in reality it’s the concessionaire who often wins. Some music festivals in the US have begun to use RFID bands, but instead of just linking your credit card directly, you have to pre-load money on the band. This has lead to a 20% increase in on-site payments: https://www.eventbrite.com/blog/ds00-cashless-are-rfid-payments-right-for-your-event/ but there’s a treat of consumer backlash. I worked with Electric Zoo on their NYC festival which required fans to put money on their bands in “E Zoo bucks” to buy concessions, but there was a confusing conversion rate of dollars to E Zoo bucks to make it look like consumers were spending less than they actually did. They got a lot of bad press from consumers who thought the system was not transparent so they ended up discontinuing the program the next year.

Whether it’s a mobile app or RFID bands, I think it would be interesting for concessionaires to allow consumers to set limits on what they would like to spend so customers have more transparency and control over their purchases.

On November 20, 2016, eahern commented on Cinemark: On the Way Up…and Down :

Reminds me of our IDEO case. It will be a challenge for Cinemark to retain their customer base unless they find new ways to add value. They don’t want to find themselves in the same position as Blockbuster. I agree with John that the key could be in finding new ways to add value to customers along the way. Since movies are such a social experience, how can they use their mobile app to create a social experience online for movie-goers? Can they develop a social rating system like rotten tomatoes in their app so movie goers can discuss the film afterwards and (hopefully) generate buzz for other movie goers? Could they allow customers to choose their seat & order their concessions in advance so everything is waiting for them at the theater and they no longer have to wait in line? The key will be in finding ways to make the movie-going experience easier, more social and more enjoyable to convince customers to get off their couch.

Great example of how a brick & mortar retailer is using digital technology to improve it’s operations and reduce costs. I agree that delivery could be a missed opportunity. However, there are companies like Instacart who already have developed this technology and have the back-end logistics system to support delivery. Instead of Kroger doing this in-house, they should outsource delivery to these companies. Building out the logistics network to deliver is not a core competency and it would take too long for them to develop this in-house.

Beacons were certainly a hot topic at Red Bull a few years ago. A lot of our key retailers (like 7-11 and Walmart) were exploring integrating this technology into their apps. It held promise for suppliers (like us) who wanted to explore digital coupons and messaging in-store. The key challenge, like you mention, is that it’s not such a seamless process for the customer due to the fact that they have to download the appropriate app beforehand. I think the really interesting part of this from a supplier standpoint is observing the “customer path” inside of a store. We usually conduct studies on a small sample size for our “customer path” analysis, but if beacon technology gains traction, we would have a much larger sample size to work with.

On November 20, 2016, eahern commented on Is Your Next Burrito an Emoji Away? :

Fascinating read. Reminds me of a project I worked on at Red Bull where teams using Slack could send their co-workers a Red Bull via a custom emoji on the platform. We worked with a developer called GrowBot that keeps track of how many times team members give each other props or kudos on the app and consolidates it into a leaderboard for managers to review on a weekly basis. Managers could then send a Red Bull that would be delivered by postmates to the office. Like you mentioned in your article, delivery for us is the greatest challenge. Even though we have an entire fleet of Wings Team members who help with sampling, it’s not efficient for their time to help with one-off trips to office buildings which is why we decided to work with postmates to handle the delivery.

On November 4, 2016, eahern commented on Shake Shack – Please, give us the burger of the future. :

Fascinating research on the impact that farming cattle for beef consumption has on the environment. When most people think of climate change, they turn to cars or manufacturing plants as the biggest polluters. However, as you indicate, 14.5% of worldwide greenhouse gases are due to livestock, compared to the fact that airlines contribute 2% to greenhouse gases, this statistic is staggering!

Veganism is on the rise amongst millenials due in part to health but also due to the fact that millenials are more environmentally conscious. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/may/27/the-rise-of-vegan-teenagers-more-people-are-into-it-because-of-instagram

This could become a key competitive advantage for Shake Shack moving forward so they are not left behind if eating trends change in the future.

Coming from the beverage industry I can attest that sustainability is top of mind both from a corporate responsibility standpoint and from the potential it has to reduce costs in the long-term. I agree with your assessment that there needs to be improvement across the entire value chain. I know that at Red Bull we are following Coca Cola’s lead and have introduced hybrid and electric trucks to our Red Bull-owned distribution fleets and have eliminated coolers containing HFC from our POS supply. For more on Red Bull’s sustainability practices see: http://energydrink-us.redbull.com/en/can-lifecycle

I’m curious if you came across any research on how Coca-Cola is working to reduce waste in their manufacturing and distribution plants. This was a huge challenge for us at Red Bull since our products do have expiration dates and failure to properly forecast can result in millions of dollars worth of expired goods sitting in warehouses. I wonder what practices Coca-Cola has put in place to mitigate this.

On November 4, 2016, eahern commented on Nike’s Path to Sustainability :

It’s interesting to me that despite Nike being one of the greatest marketing brands in the world, they don’t market any of these sustainable practices. We learned in our marketing case on Nike that they are reluctant to do so for fear of cheapening the brand or they could be fearful of being accused of “greenwashing” like we learned in our Ikea case. However, as consumers become more conscious of the environmental impact of the products they buy, I wonder if this could become a competitive advantage for Nike. Adidas is already beginning to encroach in this space. They just released a prototype 3D-printed sneaker made from recycled ocean plastic and are putting a lot of PR behind this with a competition to win the sneakers: http://www.theverge.com/2016/6/8/11881670/adidas-3d-printed-sneaker-competition

Nike got into trouble a few years ago because of their labor practices in their factories, but I don’t think many consumers know that they’ve raised their standards. Their sustainability initiative could be another way to assure consumers that they are an industry leader when it comes to corporate responsibility.

On November 4, 2016, eahern commented on Southwest Airlines Buckles in for a Bumpy Ride :

Very interesting point you bring up regarding extreme weather causing more flight cancellations which as you indicate have serious implications for Southwest’s bottom line. In doing my own research, I found an interesting article that indicated that flight times on westbound trips are also increasing (at a slightly greater rate than the reduction in eastbound flight times) due to climate change. Global warming also seems to be increasing the amount of turbulence on flights which increases flight times and airplane wear and tear. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/15/climate-change-costing-airlines-millions-of-dollars-in-extra-fuel-and-flying-time

I completely agree that biofuel seems to be a key area of opportunity for all airlines going forward. I think Southwest’s paltry use of biofuel to date can be explained by the lack of supply and the lack of infrastructure at big airports to support this re-fueling.

On November 4, 2016, eahern commented on Boeing – Innovative aviation giant fighting climate change :

I agree that Boeing is an industry leader when it comes to reducing the environmental footprint of the airline industry. I found their commitment to research on biofuel particularly fascinating. You mention in your post the variety of steps they are taking to improve airplane design including blended winglets and retrofit performance packages. In my own research on Boeing, I was particularly interested in their work with NASA to try and reduce drag on their airplanes. Some of the improvements they’ve made include building small devices to blow jets of air on the vertical tail and even a non-stick coating to repel bugs from the wings! http://www.nasa.gov/aero/nasa-tests-green-aviation-technology-on-boeing-ecodemonstrator.html

I disagree, however, on your point of electrical flying. From my research, it seemed like most experts had rejected electrical flying as a possibility which is why they were doubling down on biofuel. I’m curious if you found evidence to the contrary.