Ariana, you forgot to mention the Art Gallery of Ontario! Just kidding (though, it is another beautiful design by Gehry). I’ve often marvelled at Gehry’s architecture around the world and wondered how he managed to create such intricate and unusual designs. It’s fascinating that his team were the first to leverage this tool and that it enabled them to build the Barcelona fish in just 6 months. As I was reading more about the topic, I noticed that Gehry just made the program available to the public within the last few years. It’s a great thing he did because now the world will benefit from other architects who can pair their creativity with the cost-savings capabilities of this incredible tool. Hopefully, as more architects adopt technologies like these, we will see much more variation and originality in buildings constructed.
Great post, Duane! It’s a fascinating time for discount retailers as Amazon (and others) have completely transformed the industry, offering unprecedented convenience, ease, and price. It sounds like Target has launched some interesting initiatives to better connect with customers using digital tools. I’m particularly interested in your point about how Target is “mimicking” the in-store experience online and enabling customers to virtually “try-out” products. I’d love to hear more about how they’re doing this. Has it been successful? As I read your post, I was left wondering if Target is really doing enough to stay competitive. In the future, perhaps Target can better leverage strategic partnerships and acquisitions to boost the speed and scale of its digital transformation. I remember just a few months ago, Walmart spent $3B+ to acquire Jet.com, considered to be one of the most innovative e-commerce companies in the country. If Target is going to keep pace with Walmart and others, pursuing investments like this will likely become increasingly important.
Great post, Joanna! As something that we all frequently interact with, the grocery experience holds particular interest for the average consumer. I believe there is tremendous opportunity to create a differentiated grocery experience by leveraging technology the right way. Apoorva Mehta, a founder and the CEO of Instacart, mentioned during the Tech Conference a couple of months back that the online shopping model has attracted less than 5% of the market. This may indicate that shoppers are reluctant to shift online for any number of reasons (e.g., they prefer to hand-pick produce themselves). This customer reluctance can’t be viewed with complacence by traditional grocers but instead must be viewed as a critical opportunity to transform the customer experience, further deepening relationships with customers. Creating a better customer experience includes integrating technology into the in-store and out-of-store experiences, and it sounds like B Fresh has launched some interesting initiatives to do this.
Another thing that grocers are doing is leveraging the data that they collect on customers through loyalty programs to offer customized deals (e.g., collect triple the points on peanut butter, a product that “similar” customers have purchased). One grocer that has done an excellent job at this is Loblaws, Canada’s largest retailer (http://www.itbusiness.ca/news/loblaws-digital-pc-plus-loyalty-program-expected-to-add-hundreds-of-millions-in-revenue/50396). Of course, these strategies can be copied by online players like Instacart in the future, but if traditional grocers like B Fresh augment their existing services with effective digital technologies, they may be able to capitalize on customer reluctance to switch online for a little while longer!
Great post, Pablo! There are few things that make people cringe more than buying ludicrously overpriced razor blades. Dollar Shave Club recognized this pain point and developed a creative model to address it. Many people I know shifted to DSC feeling that the traditional CPG razor companies were solely in the business of gouging them. To your point, I think it will be interesting to see how customers perceive the DSC brand moving forward now that it is controlled by one of the big CPGs. Naturally, DSC has seen increased competition too with others like Harry’s rapidly entering the space. Moving forward, Unilever must continue to leverage the creative branding and marketing that made DSC so successful, which could be challenging since it is quite different to Unilever’s traditional approach to marketing.
Thanks for the very insightful post! It’s great to see a global leader like L’Oreal making meaningful efforts to become more sustainable. Hopefully, this serves as an example of the other major beauty and cosmetics companies around the world. A sustainability leader like L’Oreal should be looking across the entire value chain – from the sourcing of raw materials through customer use and disposal – for opportunities to reduce its footprint. As the commenters above have mentioned, there does seem to be opportunity for L’Oreal to focus on it’s packaging to reduce waste. For example, L’Oreal could consider using recycled or biodegradable plastics and should ensure that its packaging is designed to for optimized shipping. With that said, L’Oreal is definitely doing a commendable job and will likely be a sustainability leader well into the future given the commitment it made by signing Obama’s American Business Act on Climate pledge.
Ariana, you’re right I don’t often think of the shipping industry when I think of greenhouse gas emissions, but I definitely will now! As I was reading about the topic, I noticed that just the other week meetings ended between the United Nations and the shipping industry with regards to the industry’s impact on climate change. The meetings didn’t appear to conclude with any formal plan for how shippers should go about reducing their climate impact. This is disappointing news. In the future, I hope to see shipping companies take more responsibility for climate-protection as global corporate citizens (although, this seems unlikely considering how they took advantage of lax laws in the past). I understand that these companies have profit obligations to their shareholders but as some of the world’s worst contributors to climate change, it is imperative that they adjust their operations for the sake of the global community. Very interesting and timely post!
It’s great to see that an organization with such influence and brand-recognition is trying to operate more sustainably. Hopefully, McDonald’s efforts will serve as an example for other major industry players. I agree, though, that it does seem that there is still more that the organization can do. As others have mentioned above, there is definitely opportunity for McDonald’s to experiment with menu options that are more sustainable, including poultry, fish, and vegetarian options. It is well known that McDonald’s has had trouble in the past attracting millennial consumers. Perhaps by offering better quality food (organic, eco-friendly), McDonald’s could improve the environment while also creating a more attractive offering for highly coveted millennials. Studies have shown that millennials are put off by the perceived lack of quality of McDonald’s ingredients (https://www.ypulse.com/post/view/millennials-teens-sound-off-what-would-make-them-eat-at-mcdonalds1). It’s likely that McDonald’s is already considering something similar but the firm risks becoming increasingly less irrelevant if they don’t evolve with more pace.
Very thoughtful post, Danny! It’s certainly troubling times ahead for the U.S. coal industry and Robert Murray undoubtedly has some difficult questions awaiting him. Your post reminded me of a Scientific American article that I read earlier this year titled “Inside a Western Town that Refuses to Quit Coal.” The article explores the fight of a small, historically coal-producing town, Colstrip, Montana, against the anti-coal movement sweeping the U.S. Colstrip is home to one of the nation’s largest coal power plants and its residents feel betrayed and abandoned by a government which so readily depended on them not long ago. It can be easy to forget that there are still many in the U.S. who rely on coal for their livelihood and, if companies like Murray don’t soon evolve, there will be devastating implications for many. It is critical that coal firms become more open-minded and less stubborn about where the future is heading and start making the necessary adjustments to survive. As both you and Ronnie mentioned, renewable energy sources and natural gas seem like pretty good places to start!
Interesting post! I often think about the trade-offs that financial services company must make as they assess potential investments. On the one hand, companies like Morgan Stanley have a fiduciary responsibility to operate in the best interests of their shareholders (which often equates to maximizing profits), but many would argue that these companies also have a responsibility as corporate citizens to help prevent climate change. As you say, ideally they can find a way to do both by investing in companies that have sustainability mandates but that also generate strong returns.
Another example of a financial services company managing these challenges that may interest you is the Royal Bank of Canada. RBC has made significant efforts to operate more sustainability and has focused most of their efforts on water. This initiative is called the Clear Blue Project (http://www.rbc.com/community-sustainability/environment/rbc-blue-water/). However, despite receiving commendation for these efforts, RBC has also been the target of significant backlash due to investments they’ve made in the oil sands in Alberta. The Rainforest Action Network has led the charge against RBC and used some pretty extreme (and quite unethical, in my point of view) efforts to get their point across (http://www.macleans.ca/society/life/a-hostile-climate/). Financial services firms have a unique opportunity to drive change as both investors and as major organizations in their own right. With that said, there is certainly no simple solution!