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On November 20, 2016, GS commented on HBX – Disrupting the Business Education Delivery Model :

Thanks for the insightful post Nikhil. I think online business education is a growing and important space and I am excited to see that HBS has extended its offerings online to a broader community. Today, many young people lack business acumen. Based on a 2013 survey from Barclays and charity pfeg, “under 25s are showing worrying gaps in their financial knowledge relating to bank statements, overdrafts and interest on loans.” It is critical for our economy that this gap is bridged and I think that online business courses such as HBX has the power to do this. While there is fear that HBX will dilute the HBS brand, I hope that the public will see the value in the HBX offering and that other prestigious institutions will follow in Harvard’s footsteps making it an industry standard.

On November 20, 2016, GS commented on Bringing New York’s Fifth Avenue to China :

Thanks for the insight Priscilla. I am curious to see how successful Alibaba will be at incorporating virtual reality into the retail space. Currently, customers are not accustomed to wearing virtual reality devices outside of playing games (such as Pokémon Go). However, based on a 2015 Statista survey, active virtual reality users will reach 171 million by 2018. While this might be an aggressive forecast, I think Alibaba’s capital investment into virtual reality will ultimately disrupt the retail industry.

On November 20, 2016, GS commented on Sephora: Bringing Beauty to the People :

Thanks for the insightful post. I agree that Sephora should leverage online platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat to expand its customer base. However, I am skeptical that applications such as the Pocket Contour app will be successful. I think makeup is such a personalized product line and requires individuals to try before they buy unless they are repeat customers and know what products they want to purchase. In order for this platform to be successful, Sephora will need to spend significant capital on photo analytics.
I think the Augmented Reality platform will be successful and enhance the user experience if Sephora partners with popular makeup brands and artists and has videos showing the customers how best to use the product.

Thanks Erik for the insight. Another initiative that Whole Foods just released is the use of digital coupons. Whole Foods, an upscale grocer that is known for its “whole paycheck” image, is attempting to use technology to increase its customer base. However, I am concerned that its focus on technology may be detrimental to Whole Foods in the long run. Similar to Natalie and Sabine, I am skeptical that its partnership with Instacart will be successful, and I think that the new initiative with coupons will dilute the Whole Foods brand. It will be interesting to see how Whole Foods leverages technology in the future and if its ventures will be successful.

On November 20, 2016, GS commented on Sweat – and Record :

I think wearable technology has the ability to transform not only the way we exercise, but also the health care and insurance industries. It will be interesting to see how Under Armour uses the collected data but I imagine that ultimately insurance providers will be able to access this data. Currently, Fitbit and other wearable device companies are working on how to work with insurance companies. Health care consultant Kelly Barnes argues that with wearable technology, insurance providers can “set rates on a daily basis as opposed to just once a year.” It will be interesting to see how Under Armour fits into the space and if it is able to capitalize on its data.

Thank you for this insightful post. I have always associated Clif Bar with environmental consciousness (probably due to its packaging). It is critical for Clif Bar and other early movers in the space to remain competitive and innovative in a landscape where competitors are increasingly environmentally conscious. I wonder if Clif Bar would have faced less difficulties if it had been a later mover into the environmentally friendly space. The infrastructure would have already existed but perhaps the framework would have been costly or it would have been difficult to reshape the organization’s production process and vision.
I was very interested in the conflict Clif Bar is facing between maintaining the integrity of its initial mission of creating an organic product and its focus on the environment. I imagine this conflict is common among many organizations and I am curious to see how Clif Bar’s management team will handle it. I hope that some type of balance exists and that Clif Bar is able to innovate and produce an environmentally conscious and organic product.

On November 7, 2016, GS commented on Maker’s Mark: Seeing the Forest for the Trees :

Thank you so much for this insight. I never fully appreciated the environmental impact of alcohol production until reading this and I am pleased to see that Maker’s Mark is an industry leader. I am surprised that it is the only distillery to implement this type of self-sustainable system. I wonder if the technology is applicable across other types of alcohol production. If other bourbon or alcohol producers do not implement this strategy, I wonder if Maker’s Mark will be able to retain its competitive position in the market.
I also think it is interesting that Maker’s Mark decided to vertically integrate. While they now have much more control over their supply chain, I wonder how capital intensive this was and what the opportunity cost was.

On November 7, 2016, GS commented on A World without Hershey Kisses? :

Thanks Parker for the insight. As we discussed in class, Hershey is responsible for addressing the environmental problems that their suppliers are facing, and I am encouraged to see that they are taking action. I am impressed that their initiatives not only target the long-term environmental sustainability of the farms, but also the health, education, and income of the farmers. Hershey is an industry leader and I hope others follow in its footsteps.
I think reducing the portions is an interesting tactic but I would be cautious to implement this strategy as West Africa’s economy is driven by global demand and consumption for chocolate. One of Hershey’s goals is to improve the lives of its farmers and I fear that a depressed economy as a result of decreased demand could undo the positive impact Hershey is making.

On November 7, 2016, GS commented on Wonderful Almonds :

I was shocked after reading this at how much water almonds consume. While the headlines may have exaggerated the true consumption, 9.5% consumption for one (seemingly tiny) food product is alarming. As we discussed in the Planters case, almonds are seen as the “trendy, nutritious nut.” It is interesting to hypothesize what would have been the environmental impact if the pistachio or the peanut had instead been the “trendy” nut and seen an uptick in consumption. It is encouraging that Paramount is instituting sustainable practices to drive down the water consumption. I wonder if these practices can be applied more broadly to other types of nuts or high-consumers of water.

On November 7, 2016, GS commented on Turning water into wine :

Thanks for this interesting insight. Wine is a luxury asset that is typically consumed several years after production. I wonder if consumers will value the quality of dry-farmed wine in the same way as they would if it was produced traditionally. There is a specific wine consumption culture that is focused on the vintage, the process, and the taste of wine. I wonder how dry-farming will impact the sommelier and restaurant business, and how widely accepted this practice will be among the upper-end wine consumers who value the traditional aspects of wine. It will be interesting to see if this practice is accepted globally and how the competitive landscape will change because of a change in the wine production process.