With firms like StoneMor and Service Corporation International consolidating the industry, growth in the U.S. funeral services is increasingly coming from scale effects and the ability to offer more and more services. Are there any cultural nuances between the two countries that would make the marrying of those unique businesses less sustainable in one market over the other? Additionally, companies like Amazon and Walmart now offer caskets online while other firms like BestBequest offer digital solutions tied to estate decisions. In a world that is increasingly more comfortable with transacting online, how is Jardines approaching the shift of certain services from the physical to the online domain?
Another key strength at Under Armour is how the basic fitness and performance tenets of their core products are so interwoven with the culture of the firm. I remember driving by their headquarters and seeing employees outside in 100 degree heat running sprints in the parking lot on their lunch break. Kevin Plank has made a huge investment in Baltimore, and with the 128-acre acquisition at Port Covington, Under Amour is looking to build a mixed-use campus that rivals anything offered at Nike’s World Headquarters in Beaverton. As evidenced by your anecdote about the military tank pointed west, it’s clear they have Nike in their crosshairs, but to Teti’s point, I do wonder how pervasive their “me too” attitude is and whether it will cause them to lose sight of their own competitive strengths. With plans to launch another flagship store on Newbury Street, what is your take on how this brand house expansion strategy fits with other aspects of their business and operating models?
Thanks for an interesting post! As you alluded to both Visa and MasterCard took a similar approach in positioning themselves as a trusted card for the masses while American Express has historically been viewed as more of a card for the elite. AXP has recently tried to close their merchant acceptance gap and shake this image with their OptBlue program by focusing on expanding their coverage with small merchants. It’s been speculated that this is partially due to a fear that their business will stall with the aging of their core consumer, a point that has been somewhat substantiated by their massive investment in reaching lower end consumers via the prepaid space. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on AXP’s potential for success in changing consumer brand perceptions relative to the other big networks in the space. They’ve shown a willingness to put a lot of money into advertising their Bluebird and Serve products, but to your point trust can be a hard thing to “buy” when the other players have history on their side.