Having spent more hours than I wish to admit for a FastPass into Disneyland’ Indiana Jones ride, I am thrilled to see Disney fully embracing digitization to improve customers’ park experiences. Lynn so eloquently delineated the operational and business values digital transformation for theme parks can have — it’s clear that Disney is hitting it out of the park at Disney World, using the park as a beta test for future implementation. The expansion of their park digitization is something that interests me here. I am curious as to how Disney plans to roll out their digital strategy to their portfolio of parks, and how they will account for localized technology adoption.
For example, if a Disney park is located in a country that has significantly greater or less adoption of digital tech, how will Disney account for variations in customer comfort with technology? Will Disney need to innovate beyond their existing implementation at Disney World, will they simply be able replicate the model elsewhere, or will introducing technology to new parks require more customer education? Additionally, I look forward to following Disney’s park selection strategy for digital roll out. As Lynn articulated so well, it’s clear that Disney World was chosen for its breadth and depth of rides and customers. When we start looking at smaller parks or parks in different geographies, how will Disney prioritize the customer park experience at one park versus another? It appears that Disney is limited by its own human capital to roll this out in parallel to many parks simultaneously, so I look forward to following how they determine where, how, and when to push into other parks in the Disney portfolio.
As a die-hard SoulCycle rider, it’s difficult to defect. But, I must admit that Peloton is really outpacing the pure brick-and-mortar cycling competition. Catherine makes an extremely compelling case for the value-add of at-home cycling classes versus in-person.
I’ve been riding for many years, and I believe that the community in the room is the most important aspect of group exercise (especially cycling). With that said, Peloton has deliberately thought through maintaining that community feel by hybridizing the people in the room: both virtual and actually present. This not only provides greater diversity within the group by including more riders of varying skill levels, but, more importantly, it reduces attrition. What I mean by this is that when you attend a cycling class, there are inevitably bikes that go unsold or customers are no-shows. As I mentioned, the community and energy in the room is one piece of the value you pay for as a rider. When there are blanket absences, it reduces that community feel and many riders don’t get the same value out of the class as they would’ve if it had been full. Peloton solves for this by marrying the online and offline community, guaranteeing that energy all the time. I genuinely believe that Peloton provides the rider a higher quality ride more frequently than the average cycling studio from this reason alone.
This is such a fascinating example of digital transformation. Taking an everyday, antiquated system such as waste management and revolutionizing it for the digital age will have an invaluable impact. I really loved some of the recommendations Amit proposed for how Bigbelly can take “smart trash” further. Two in particular are: 1) leveraging data collection to track consumer patterns; and 2) using these bins as potential hotspots to make a city even more connected.
To this first point on leveraging data. I see so many opportunities here. Not only better understanding pedestrian foot traffic and on-street behaviors, but also the value we could glean from assessing the types/brands of trash people discard. Through either RFID or NFC tagging, we would suddenly have insight into how and what people are consuming in different parts of the US (or even the world). Bigbelly could even consider selling this data to retailers to help them better understand customer behavior and usage patterns in specific geographic regions. This information would be invaluable for targeted marketing, helping brands better capture value from their captive market audience, while also supplementing BigBelly’s value capture.
Secondly, the dual role these smart bins could play as wifi hubs really resonated with me. Living in San Francisco — a city that has notoriously struggled with implementing city-wide wifi — there has always been a promise of an Internet-connected city that has yet to materialize. This technology would provide visual cues to pedestrians as to where the hotspots are, while also serving the transactional purpose of getting more garbage off the ground and to the right place.
Thank you for surfacing this technology, Amit – so interesting!
As a shamelessly frequent use of RetailMeNot, this post really resonated with me. There were several points on the operational side that really blew me away here. Specifically, how RetailMeNot (RMN) is leveraging the power of social networks to make the act of couponing more community-oriented but also to improve the quality of the coupons provided on the service. With over 50% of adult Internet users in the U.S. using digital coupons in 2015, I see such significant value and potential in RMN’s business/operating model. Let’s dig into the latter.
Before RMN, couponing was a relatively individualistic experience that revolved around “crazy coupon ladies” who scoured blogs and online forums for the best deals on anything, anytime. The industry, as Katherine notes, has significantly transformed with the advent of digital. A big question around digital is the quality of the coupons — now that everyone has access to the Internet, it can be difficult for companies and users to discern between real and fake. RMN swoops in with a social graph that actually increases the likelihood of coupon validity. By leaning on customer-generated content, RMN is effectively utilizes the strength of the average couponer to help out other couponers. This is a very positive feedback loop. Without the proliferation of digital and social networking, RMN’s business model would not be nearly as effective.
I completely agree with Katherine that the next step for RMN is meeting the customer at the right time and place in the shopping experience. Utilizing their existing cookie tracking and new machine learning technology, RMN will have the ability to recommend relevant coupons even mid-shop. This not only serves the customer well but also enables RMN to capture even more value from retailers by providing customer shopping habit data directly to brick-and-mortars and online retailers. The entire value chain benefits from this next step.
Thank you for surfacing this service and how it is radically evolving an industry that is challenged by stigma and patient trepidation to seek help. Especially as we support our classmates here at HBS, I think we can all agree that being aware of one’s mental health is of the utmost importance.
I love the thoughtfulness of your next steps for Talkspace. Yet, I’d like to push the conversation a little further. We know that the latest election news might preclude Talkspace from leveraging government medical programs to their benefit. Instead, I would focus predominantly — as you have in your second recommendation — on growth in communities served, and additionally, on capturing long-term value from collecting in-app data analytics about patient habits, tendencies, and demographics.
Let’s dig into the first suggestion: strategies for growth among underserved mental health communities. I wholeheartedly agree that targeted marketing in emerging state markets is valuable, but I would also supplement this targeted marketing with: 1) an educational marketing strategy about the importance of mental health, and 2) diversify the way new patients are able to interact with the platform. As of present, Talkspace provides one-to-one anonymous therapy; whereas, there are proven benefits to group therapy. I would suggest Talkspace integrate a group therapy option into their feature set. The option of anonymously joining a group could give users — who exhibit the characteristic of discomfort approaching a mental health professional — a safe psychological space to bounce ideas off of others, learn from others’ experiences, and create a community around how they are feeling. Many people who face mental health issues daily feel isolated and as if they do not have someone to turn to. Group therapy has the potential to provide that supportive community.
Secondly, I’d like to see Talkspace become a thought leader in the mental health space and refine their model for future users. They can do this by leveraging existing data gathered on the platform. This creates a positive feedback loop for the service: the more users who join, the more data can be gathered about various mental health issues, and the more insightful takeaways Talkspace can utilize in perfecting their app for users. Additionally, this data gives Talkspace the cache to speak within the broader academic universe on mental health to better how therapeutic professionals should best serve clients — now, from the customer perspective. This 180-degree data feedback is something that existing therapists do not have the luxury of seeing. This information could truly impact the quality of care both in the digital therapeutic space and offline.
Again, really appreciated this post. So thoughtful and brought to the surface an issue many of us aren’t yet comfortable discussing. Thank you for that!
This post was impactful for me as a follower of luxury brands, because when we think of luxury brands, it doesn’t typically conjure visions of sustainability. I was so impressed to learn that LVMH – arguably the holistic leader in many luxury industries – has climate change top of mind. It seems LVMH has invested in efforts that not only align with their firm-wide values but also can be integrated well into their existing day-to-day operations. Baking these new standards and way of operating into their existing infrastructure makes it much more digestible to adhere to. The point here I really wanted to explore was around introducing wearable pieces into future lines that appear to be made of sustainable materials. While I completely agree with Catherine that this is an obvious next step (seeing as LVMH competitors have already moved in this direction), I do see a potential tension between customer expectations from LVMH lines and what LVMH actually delivers. Luxury buyers are historically choosy and particular – do we think that customers would actually be put off by products that look like they are made of sustainable materials? Or do we see enough evidence of luxury buyer consumer behavior indicating that the look of sustainable luxury products is not a deterrent to purchasing? I think this requires significantly more customer research and time to determine if other brands are experiencing higher sales with the release of these sustainable-looking pieces.
It was striking to me that the Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure in the world and the impact of climate change on this region not only impacts the organisms that depend on it for their livelihood, but also the country that relies heavily on it for tourism revenues. While both stakeholders in this have different motives, it proves that the impact of climate change on the GBR is far more wide-reaching than I could have ever anticipated. As Anita notes, Quicksilver is not new to the climate change mitigation game – they have dedicated significant time and capital over the last 20 years to minimize the impact of climate change on the GBR. While research and continuous academic development in the space are critical, it appears that there are many opportunities for Quicksilver to actually marry the tourism economy and GBR research to further precipitate public awareness and action. One such innovative way mentioned in the post is the introduction of virtual reality to better visually study the digital reef through dry diving. Not only does this technology provide a new perspective from which scientists can assess climate change impacts, but it also introduces the opportunity to engage tourists in that impact discovery. Creating a fun and interactive environment with which tourists can experience the GBR before, during, and after their visits has the potential for high impact, low investment. I look forward to seeing how Quicksilver integrates some of their climate change mitigation research and strategy into their tourism efforts.
I was not aware of the degree to which Nissan and Renault partnered – and the impetus behind the partnership – before reading this post. I really value the conversation Ashwini articulated around the importance of public sector-private sector cooperation and partnership in effectively mitigating the effects of climate change. It appears that Nissan and Renault have strategically leveraged their relative sizes in the market and first-mover advantages in climate change adaptation to influence other car makers and the government to make moves. To further push this discussion point, I am curious if Nissan and Renault believe that the pace at which they are working to put more EV cars on the road worldwide will ultimately match the accelerating impact of climate change on the global ecosystem. My guess here is that Nissan and Renault are immensely aware that they are playing catch up to the irreversible effects global warming has already had on the environment, leading to their multi-pronged approach, and stake purchase in Mitsubishi Motors. But do we see any areas where they could do more to accelerate their own ability to catch up with climate change impacts, beyond what they’re already doing? I believe that they’re work in emerging markets, especially, presents them with an incredible opportunity to drive legislation and public governance standards around car emissions. As big players in the market, Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi will have substantial bargaining power in these markets. Knowing emerging economies are typically the highest carbon emitters, the triad has the potential to make substantial impacts across the board in regulation and emission standard adoption.
With many fast casual and fast food restaurants accused of greenwashing (claiming sustainability but failing on execution), I’m so thrilled to see Chipotle lead the charge in this industry. The piece of this argument that was most striking to me was Chipotle’s work with local farmers and the positive side effects these partnerships can have on Chipotle’s long-term raw material supply chain viability. I wholeheartedly agree that investing in small-scale farmer infrastructure to protect against climate change vulnerabilities in the growing and transportation process is critical in this situation. I also firmly supply Katherine’s perspective that deeper engagement with these farmers, instead of pursuing larger-scale non-GMO farms, is the best possible way to achieve Chipotle’s ideal outcome: preserving their core customer value proposition of delivering high quality ingredients at affordable prices to the mass market. To further push this discussion, I’d like to open the discourse to include the specific ways we feel farmer engagement will be the most effective. Will Chipotle be most effective educating farmers about the impacts of climate change and arming them with knowledge? Or would physically investing in farm infrastructure and distribution channels have a greater impact? Or would investing in new climate change resistant variances of the avocado crop sustain Chipotle’s raw materials input and sustain the avocado farming industry? I believe we’re looking at a highly complex problem that might involve all, some, or none of these engagement possibilities. I look forward to following Chipotle’s next steps in the space and how they measure their impact on both the production and consumer levels.
As an athlete whose wardrobe is about 98% Nike and also personally invested in climate change, I am incredibly sensitive to the moves Nike is making on this front. This post is incredibly well-thought and lays out many arguments very articulately. To me, the most striking and resonant of those arguments – as a Nike consumer – is that Nike’s approach to mitigating and adapting to climate change is proactive, not reactive. It appears that Nike is taking the bull by the horns, recognizing the potentially severe impacts climate change could have on their comprehensive value chain, and in turn, their value proposition to the core customer. Many companies in this space, Reebok and Adidas included (as Lynn notes), have yet to commit fully to a climate change mitigation plan, which, to me, implies that these companies have also not yet admitted to themselves that this is tangible problem. Nike’s awareness of the public conscious around climate change and the commitment to creating a long-term business that is vulnerable to climate change shocks proves that the company is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. I look forward to following Nike’s trajectory in the this space, especially how they exercise their strength as a leader in the fitness industry to influence competitive players.
Pushing Lynn’s conversation further, I wanted to ask others about their opinions here with Nike’s strategy moving forward. While we know that involving a community of consumers in collective thought around climate change can have positive public relations side effects – such as in the case of CoLab – how does a company truly measure the impact of collective thought programs on their ultimate climate change mitigation/adaptation goal?