Mike, what an interesting article. The potential ruling is an example of a decision that may appear logical on the surface, but could have numerous drastic unintended consequences. This article had me thinking about the impact of other protectionist policies, particularly in the United States. In particular – whether protectionist policies impact domestic producers of ‘discretionary’ goods, or goods in new industries, more harshly than ‘staple’ goods. An analogy would be in the automotive industry – if prices on imports escalated to such a point that US-manufactured cars were cheaper in a relative sense, the consumer is unlikely to stop buying cars. For a relatively new industry, like the solar industry, that hasn’t reached critical mass, the impact of protectionist policies could be huge. As you eluded to – consumers may simply stop buying solar panels if the domestic price becomes too high.
Thanks for the post Shelby! It’s great to hear about companies like Primark that are not usually in the media spotlight for these sorts of issues. You brought up the point that the commitment to sustainability is equally on consumers as it is on company management. I wonder whether Primark could be more explicit about where its products are sourced from – and educate their customers in-store. One company that comes to mind is Eberjay (https://www.eberjey.com/). Although it’s an e-commerce play, the company has made ‘customer education’ on sustainability issues part of its core value proposition, while at the same time, maintaining (relatively) low prices. Perhaps Primark could learn something from them about consumer education and willingness to pay? Transparency in their supply chain may seem risky, but I think consumers would appreciate a move like this from a mass-market brand.
HBS Rules, thanks for the insight into this industry! Clearly, climate change has the potential to significantly impact Cargill’s core business. While I agree with your suggestion that Cargill must lobby for more sustainable practices world-wide, I wonder whether the Company is somewhat conflicted in this area. Animals themselves (particularly cows) are a significant contributor to climate change through the release of methane gas. As a trader of animal products, Cargill is incentivized to maintain good relationships with primary producers, and to encourage the consumption of meat. On the other hand, they must also consider the longer-term impact that climate change has on the rest of their agricultural business – particularly in relation to price volatility as you mentioned.
Fascinating topic Alexia, thanks for the insight. It’s interesting that you raise the use of telehealth in order to service people in rural areas or areas that have a fluctuation in population density. I can absolutely see telehealth as having a much broader application – perhaps for people with chronic conditions that require regular (but often non-urgent) check-ups. I can also see a large demand for the service for patients that require psychological or counselling support. I think your idea of ‘outsourcing’ patient care to low cost-centers across the globe is particularly interesting. I wonder whether you could take this a step further and introduce an automated / digital triage system where the patient enters in their symptoms and is more directed to a lower-cost provider (nurse instead of doctor, or international doctor instead of US provider) for non-life threatening conditions?
Minghao, what an interesting topic! I thought your point about managing the complexities in the cold supply chain were very interesting – I had not considered the need to regulate temperatures based on the product you’re transporting. I wonder why Amazon has been reluctant to enter the fresh produce space until recently – perhaps there aren’t many synergies between ambient and cold supply chains?
While I understand your point that the barriers to entry in a supply chain may be low due to a lack of ‘visibility’, I’m not convinced that this is a strong competitive threat to a reputable operator – particularly in the food and beverage space where trust is crucial. I understand that for many consumers in China, they are skeptical of the food quality that is delivered by traditional retailers, due to a number of recent scandals. As a result, consumers often purchase through independent intermediaries (‘Diagous’) that they trust. I wonder how Yiguo has been able to build trust with its customers, to quell any fears about the quality and authenticity of their products?