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On November 20, 2016, Eric commented on Under Armour: The Business of Sweat Goes Digital :

Great post Phoebe! It was fascinating to read how UA is differentiating itself in the very competitive athletic apparel and footwear market, especially as it tries to go head to head with Nike (who has been in the business for a longer period of time). I was impressed that UA has become a first mover in connected clothing as I believe this segment is going to be the next evolution of not only fitness but also healthcare. I can see a future where all of our clothes are ‘smart’ and thereby able to give feedback on not only fitness performance but also health concerns.
As far as UA’s digital and app strategy, you pointed out the long-standing relationship of Nike with Apple. Do you see this as a threat and how would UA form a strong relationship with a tech company as innovative as Apple? Apple has recently launched its Nike Watch so their integration with each other is getting stronger. Also, Nike is using a similar app strategy to connect to its user base and understand their behaviour to incorporate their needs in their products but how does UA stand apart?
All in all though, I think UA is taking the right steps into giving Nike a run for its money.

On November 20, 2016, Eric commented on Disney – Hakuna Matata! Digital ain’t no passing craze :

Shray- great summary on how Disney is using digital to leverage the opportunities that the tech boom brings. I personally didn’t know that Disney had a ‘Netflix’ type app that could be used to view its massive media portfolio or that Disney had an accelerator to discover young talent and have them be part of the Disney story. I also agree that Disney’s MyMagic Plus was a great foray into bringing digitization into their theme parks as it can help discover customer behaviour to improve their parks and customer service. I read that the same technology could also be used to enhance customized customer experiences as characters can identify who the customers are without any introduction- the band can tell them all that information! However, I’m curious to know if Disney is doing anything to protect customer data and privacy? Could there be risks in people being tracked and targeted based because anyone that can access MyMagic Plus could view where certain customers are located within the park?

On November 20, 2016, Eric commented on Sephora: Bringing digital into brick & mortar stores :

Great insights into how Sephora is using technology and digital to improve the customer experience! It was fascinating to read how they are investing in ‘digital mirrors’ to help customers find the right product; I especially enjoyed reading how they are using technology to help customers find the right fragrances. I have personally felt sick after trying to find the perfect scent by smelling several different fragrances- even while using the coffee beans to ‘cleanse my pallet’.
There has been an increase in social media trends helping customers find the right make-up as well. For example, Snapchat also has filters that apply face filters that could mimick what Sephora is doing in their digital stores. Is there a threat to Sephora’s business model as social media (e.g. YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat) is also vying to teach customers about what make-up is right for them?

On November 20, 2016, Eric commented on At Nordstrom Lines Just Aren’t Cool Anymore :

Great insights into how Nordstrom is trying to enhance its brick and mortar experience! I agree that reducing lines, especially during peak seasonal periods, is a great focus to increase both customer service and conversion. I have personally left stores empty-handed because of long lines. I also think having tablets as a source to showcase all of Nordstrom’s products that may not be available in-store can help increase sales, especially if an item comes in several color variations.
I worry though if having a sales force armed with these mobile POS platforms could create a negative customer experience because of their commission-induced pay? I personally have felt pushed aggressively into buying items at Nordstrom and it contributed to a negative shopping experience. Also, could having customer payment information on these mobile platforms cause privacy and security issues? Is Nordstrom doing anything to protect customer data? I read a great article on how Nordstrom is ‘spying’ on its customers via WiFi so hopefully it has proper regulation and standards to protect its customers and do what is right for them.

Great insights into how digitization is changing the luxury retail space Rohit! It is amazing to see how high-tech Ralph Lauren is becoming in both their apparel and retail experience. The tech shirt is especially interesting as it is using technology to give customer stats as well as a better fit.
I am curious to see where Ralph Lauren goes with the tech shirt technology- is it aiming to compete in the sports apparel market or is it using the technology to differentiate itself from the rest of the luxury retail space? Also, does the customization option of their apparel cause lead time challenges, and if so, is it doing anything to improve the customization process? Nike is having the same concerns- they are betting big on expanding their customized product portfolio, as it draws higher margins, but they cause larger lead times. They are investing in digitization to improve their production process to cut the lead times from weeks to days. Can Ralph Lauren leverage a similar process?

On November 20, 2016, Eric commented on Keeping “The Happiest Place on Earth” Happy :

Great summary highlighting was Disney is doing to keep its parks as up to date as its other media businesses! I think it is a great suggestion to involve the Imagineers as part of this digital initiative to give them sense of ownership and bring more creativity to this digital strategy.
I’m curious to know, of the 50% of first time park-goers whom responded with ‘unlikely to return’, what else is driving dissatisfaction? The Magic+ band can help improve wait lines and enhance customer experience but is there anything else Disney Parks can do to increase return customers? Furthermore, with improved RFID analytics, what else can Disney gain in insights to differentiate itself from competition and elevate the ‘magical’ experience?

I completely agree that JBS is both slaughtering cows and the environment! I wrote about Tyson Foods with the similar topic on how their livestock production (primarily beef) is contributing to climate change via their deforestation and cow GHG emission rates. I can’t stress enough how meat producers, like JBS and Tyson, need to look at animal-alternative meats to not only reduce their impact on the environment and animal slaughter but also because of the opportunity in the animal-alternative market. It is expected to grow to $5B by 2020 (1) and be at least 1/3 of the total meat market by 2050. It is in everyone’s best interest to reduce their dependency on meat as our technology can advance into bio-engineering food that is not only more sustainable but also better for the health of humans. Not to mention that the benefit of animals from being subject to inhumane treatments and suffering while in the animal farms alone is just as worthy for this recommendation.


On November 7, 2016, Eric commented on Carbon-Cutting Is Now En Vogue :

Thanks for spotlighting the luxury retail space with sustainability Catherine! I was pleasantly surprised to see all of LVMH’s initiatives as it is stepping up to combat its impact on the environment. As much as it is doing for the climate and environment, I think it should also look to its impact on wildlife and animals. I personally admire Kering’s Stella McCartney brand as the pioneer in using non-animal materials to manufacture its products and am excited to see her brand doing well in the luxury market. Her bags still command the premium price point and is revered for its design. Top celebrity influencers are regularly seen with her iconic chain link Fallabella bag and helps keep her brand in trend. To Phoebe’s and Anita’s point, the tension between non-animal materials and ‘high quality’ exists and can make consumers question its ‘luxury’ appeal; but, with a brand like Stella McCartney continuing to push this message into the market, I look forward to others, especially in the LVMH wheelhouse, do the same.

On November 6, 2016, Eric commented on Wal-Mart: An Unexpected Leader in Sustainability :

Great insights into how a large retail giant is addressing its climate impact! I was especially surprised to find out that Walmart has its own meteorologists tracking natural disasters in order to act quickly and how it has been able to leverage its scale to drive product changes from its suppliers. These product changes can affect other retailers as well and force them to be more eco-friendly without having to ask for it.

An area to consider is Walmart’s affect on climate due to its imports supply chain. In 2012, Walmart was the biggest importer in the US, bringing in 720k cargo containers [1]. As we learned in the Ocean Carriers case study, these cargo containers are extremely heavy and require large amounts of energy to be consumed to ship product from overseas. It would be great for Walmart to not only think of its ground transportation but of its overall global transportation system to make larger strides in its impact on the world.


On November 6, 2016, Eric commented on Is your fleece made of recycled plastic bottles? :

Great investigation Ken! Patagonia has been a brand I admire for their leadership and stewardship of bringing not only environmental sustainability but animal welfare into the retail production conversation. I agree with Ryan’s comment about how they are condemning the consumer’s excess buying behaviour while offering so many options of many of their products. Patagonia can do better by practicing what they preach and offering fewer choices.

I think it is great that they are giving back 1% of their earnings each year but it seems that they are dispersing it to a large number of sources. As a company founded on principles of implementing solutions to the environmental crisis, could they give back more? Even an incremental 1% could have added an additional $6.2M to organizations driving positive change. There are many companies that give back up to 11% [1] so is Patagonia doing as much as it could? Overall, I still look up to Patagonia and hope they can not only continue but do more in the future.


On November 6, 2016, Eric commented on The Home Depot Owning the DIY Approach to Climate Change :

Great investigation in THD’s role in climate change responsibility. It was interesting to learn how they deal with the tension that certain environmental disasters that allows them to be at an advantage and THD’s response by giving back. It makes me wonder their reaction if/when the opposite happens when forest fires deplete wood supply. Do they increase the price of wood to put their customers at a disadvantage or do they find an alternative means to prevent increase in costs being passed to customers?

It was also nice to learn that THD is trying to help its customers be more eco-friendly as well by offering more products to customers that have a climate friendly standard. With THD moving into more international regions, are they doing the same there? THD is moving into more parts of Mexico and the question lies whether they are going to initiate the same sustainability strategies in emerging markets.