Jordan Martinez's Profile
This was a fascinating read – it’s clear that Nike is highly attuned to evolving customer preferences in the digital world and managing its supply chain accordingly. The article did raise a question for me, though, on the compatibility of personalization with Nike’s strategy. As I think about how Nike has cultivated such unyielding customer loyalty and brand affinity, it seems as though athlete and celebrity product endorsements are part and parcel of the company’s success.
In the existing model, Nike and its product evangelists are the arbiters of style, functionality, and ultimate product decisions. When branded with the ‘Swoosh’ and associated with highly visible professional athletes, Nike’s products consistently generate a sense of virality amongst consumers. Comparing this approach to a model with greater personalization wherein the customer owns more of the product design process, I wonder if Nike risks undermining its position as the standard bearer of sports style that has fueled the company’s success for so long.
As it relates to supply chain, the existing approach requires effective forecasting, logistics execution, and inventory management. Since the company knows – irrespective of realize consumer demand – how many and which types of products it will produce, there is a finite set of variables around which the company must plan. In implementing product personalization on a large scale, however, it seems that Nike’s supply chain process could become more reactive and sensitive to real-time changes in customer preferences. This, in turn, would likely necessitate fundamental changes to Nike’s planning and raw material procurement processes.
Thus, while higher consumer demand for product personalization makes this a logical strategy for Nike to pursue and grow, it’s interesting to consider the limitations of scaling personalization in the context of Nike’s business model.
What’s fascinating to me about Apple’s populist issues is how holistically outsourced Apple’s manufacturing and assembly process is. To your point, the iPhone is a ‘product of the world.’ So, although Apple receives the brunt of the political pressure on the issue due to its immense brand value and consumer visibility, the true pressure applies to the outsourced manufacturers like Foxconn, Pegatron, and FLEX whose value proposition is largely predicated on leveraging low cost labor in foreign countries like China and Mexico. This dynamic differs from U.S. automotive OEMs, for instance, who still operate some components of the vehicle manufacturing and assembly process.
The impact of populism on Apple’s supply chain partners has been evident in recent industry developments. Following Trump’s election, for example, Apple asked its suppliers to explore moving iPhone production to the U.S.  Then, this past summer, Foxconn announced it would invest in a new $10 billion facility to manufacture LCD panels in Wisconsin. 
While it’s unlikely that Apple will ever establish an entirely domestic manufacturing footprint through its supply chain partners, a recent MIT study suggested that even if all iPhone components were manufactured and assembled in the U.S., the cost of the phone to U.S. consumers would only increase by an estimated $100.  As an Apple supplier, this is a fact that would make me feel squeamish about the strategic direction of my business.
 Apple is exploring moving iPhone production to the US: Report. Arjun Kharpal – https://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/18/apple-is-exploring-moving-iphone-production-to-the-us-report.html
 Apple supplier Foxconn says it will build big Wisconsin factory. The firm will invest $10 billion in Wisconsin to build a new manufacturing plant that produces LCD panels. The project will create 13,000 new jobs-should 2020 – http://money.cnn.com/2017/07/26/technology/business/foxconn-wisconsin/index.html
 Making iPhones in the U.S. might not cost as much as you’d think. Konstantin Kakaes – https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601491/the-all-american-iphone/
I agree that declining snowpack undermines Alta’s value proposition, but it occurs to me that there are adaptation measures – in addition to the mitigation measures mentioned above – that can help soften the blow of climate change with more immediacy.
For instance, while man-made snow is never as good as the real thing, Alta can invest in high efficiency snow making equipment to create denser snowpack. In 2015 – one of Alta’s stingiest years in recent memory, with only about 60% of typical annual snowfall – Alta relied heavily on machine-made snow to sustain snowpack and skier volumes through the ski season.
Other measures include seeding clouds with silver iodide to augment precipitation capacity and using insulating blankets to preserve snow from previous seasons. In cloud seeding, resorts inject particles of silver iodide into clouds. The water droplets that comprise clouds adhere to the injected particles, which are required for snowflake formation. This process aims to increase the precipitation and snow generation capacity of clouds, thereby contributing to denser snowpack. Cloud seeding does have limitations, however, requiring cloud coverage and specific temperature thresholds.
With insulting blankets, resorts can also adapt to climate change challenges by leveraging snowpack from prior seasons. Sochi, for example, employed this approach heading into the 2014 Winter Olympics in order to preserve a foundation of snow and hedge against a potential dearth of snowfall during the Olympic season.
While these actions are blunt tools for solving the overarching climate issues facing resorts like Alta, they may be the most effective near-term measures resorts can take to alleviate their pressing supply chain issues.
 It’s unheard of Alta missed 100-inch base. Mike Gorrell The Salt Lake Tribune · April 30, 2015 12:45 pm – http://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=2446854&itype=CMSID
 It’s Not Magic On The Mountain, It’s A Rain-Making Machine. Lauren Sommer – https://www.npr.org/2014/01/09/261070150/its-not-magic-on-the-mountain-its-a-rain-making-machine
 Sochi’s Olympic Snow Stored Under Tarps Since Last Winter. Kirit Radia – http://abcnews.go.com/International/sochis-olympic-snow-stored-tarps-winter/story?id=21023724
I agree that increasing North American RVC content requirements could prove a crippling blow to U.S. automotive OEMs such as GM, who have historically had difficulty managing their cost structures through economic cycles. Despite the financial consequences of repatriating manufacturing operations, however, several players across the automotive value chain have responded to the populist pressures beyond merely increasing lobbying efforts.
In January 2017, for instance, G.M. announced a $1 billion investment to insource the production of pickup axles from Michigan to Mexico, reportedly creating 5,000 U.S. jobs. This investment comes in addition to the Texan factory expansion, referenced above. Similarly, since January of 2017, Ford has announced billions of dollars of investment in U.S. manufacturing facilities and has cancelled previously announced plans for billions of dollars of investment in new facilities in Mexico.
While it’s unclear how the NAFTA policy adjustments will ultimately manifest, it appears that recent operating decisions by U.S. auto companies have been influenced by anti-globalization sentiment. Whether these decisions represent marginal choices meant to assuage public outcry or signify a broader shift in strategy intended to preempt potentially punitive policy changes remains to be seen.
 General Motors says to invest additional $1 billion in U.S. David Shepardson – https://www.reuters.com/article/us-gm-jobs-trump/general-motors-says-to-invest-additional-1-billion-in-u-s-idUSKBN15107B
 Ford Adding Electrified F-150, Mustang, Transit by 2020 in Major EV Push; Expanded U.S. Plant to Add 700 Jobs to Make EVs, Autonomous Cars. http://shareholder.ford.com/~/media/Files/F/Ford-IR-V2/news-and-publications/2017/ford-adding-electrified-f-150-mustang-transit-by-2020.pdf
While Blue Bottle purports to be a business focused on sustainability through its brand marketing, I question the premise that the company currently exercises transparent and largely sustainable supply chain practices. Judging by the arcane disclosure on its website, Blue Bottle does seem willing to compromise on environmental standards to source and deliver its product:
“We purchase a number of coffees from Fair Trade certified cooperatives; however, many producers decide it’s in their best financial interest to channel their resources toward continued advances in quality and sustainability instead of the expensive process of certification. We like to factor a producer’s efforts toward greater quality as well as environmental and economic responsibility into our purchasing decisions, regardless of their certification status.”1
While Fair Trade certification factors into Blue Bottle’s supply chain decision making process, this nebulous party line and the absence of any specific metrics provides the company with significant latitude in establishing environmental standards for their suppliers. As Blue Bottle integrates into its new corporate parent and copes with the pressure to grow into its $700 million valuation, but continues “to operate as a stand-alone entity”, all stakeholders in the organization – from Nestle to customers – should consider whether Blue Bottle’s sustainability program has been designed to mitigate environmental impact or whether it’s just another shiny marketing tactic to appeal to the new wave of ostensibly environmentally-conscious craft coffee consumers.2
1 FAQ. https://bluebottlecoffee.com/help/are-your-coffees-fair-trade-certified
2 Nestlé acquires Blue Bottle Coffee. https://www.nestleusa.com/media/pressreleases/nestle-acquires-blue-bottle-coffee