The Optimist

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On November 20, 2016, The Optimist commented on The New York Times Adapts to the Digital Age :

PD, I think you are absolutely right in that millennials see it as a big leap from paying nothing to a monthly subscription. Yet, I don’t think lowering the costs to 10 cents per article will save the problem. I believe that the biggest hurdle is actually going from paying $0 to paying even the smallest amount, like e.g. $0.0000000001, as it requires an additional effort to create an account and enter a payment method. To lower this hurdle, NYT could think about offering a reader that reached her limit another 5-10 articles for free if she puts down her credit card down and creates an account.

Additionally, I believe that there could be an opportunity for the NYT to position itself more as the medium helping you to navigate through the ubiquitous information available online. Already by now NYT offer 53 different newsletters, ranging from morning briefings, over tech news, recipes, to running tips and Broadway promotions ( I’d imagine that, specifically among young professionals pressed with time, there would be quite a few readers interested in customized newsletters that provide them with a brief summary and link of 5-10 articles covering their specific interests. These newsletters, customized or more generals ones, could subsequently be used as a hook to get readers subscribed as they will quickly run into their 10-article limit if the content is really interesting to them.

On November 20, 2016, The Optimist commented on Sephora: Bringing Beauty to the People :

Ldubs, you talked about how Sephora supports the offline shopping experience with online tools such as the push-notifications and the Pocket contour app. I am now also wondering how it integrates the offline shopping experience into future online purchases?

I assume there are a lot of hybrid shoppers that buy sometimes offline, sometimes online and, hence, there is certainly a benefit of feeding a customer’s offline purchases back into their online profile. Customers could then receive personalized recommendations based on their offline and online purchases and (like with the Amazon refill buttons) be offered to refill certain products that they purchased a while ago offline by re-ordering them in one click online.

Is that already happening?

On November 20, 2016, The Optimist commented on The Digitization of Medical Records :

Another point about how EMR’s bring “faster, more accurate care when walking into any of these hospitals” is that EMR’s have a tremendous power to reduce medication errors. A 2013 study estimates that about 400’000 patients die in hospitals each year due to preventable harm, many of them because medication was administered incorrectly or not at all (,_Evidence_based_Estimate_of_Patient_Harms.2.aspx).

Sophisticated electronic medical records require nurses and other healthcare providers to enter doses and medications administered to patients and, hence, open entirely new opportunities to secure that medication is administered correctly. Barcode scanners that feed into the EMR’s could ensure that the correct medication is administered and alarms could go off if a patient does not receive their medication in time. Additionally, in the event that patients take harm from medication errors, EMR’s provide more possibilities to identify root causes and systemic patterns given the large amount of data and its easy comparability.

On November 20, 2016, The Optimist commented on April Fool’s joke or dash buttons taking over your home? :

I love the idea of the dash button personally – how often have I run out of dishwashing detergent, then forgot to buy it during my next shopping trip, ended up in a state where I tried to squeeze the last drop out of the bottle (filling it up with water, the classic) or letting the dishes wait another couple of days – the dash button would have saved me, my flatmates and my dishes a dozens of times!

All of your criticism about how it may not benefit the consumer is very well taken, yet I also wonder, just as with Nic, whether the single button also harms Amazon, at least from a profit perspective. Many of the products available through the dash button seem to be cheap, but heavy or bulky products (think Dasani water bottles, Tide detergent, toilet paper). Given that co-purchases are almost eliminated through the button-click, it seems that shipping costs per kg would be significantly higher for Amazon than it for when customers shop online?

On November 20, 2016, The Optimist commented on Delta’s Baggage Claim Digital Transformation :

I agree with you, CK, that the RFID “paper tags” are only a first step and that tags should become included into the luggage itself in the future to reduce the number of mishandled baggages further. Rimowa, a German high-end luggage manufacturer owned by LVMH, has taken up this trend and has equipped its newest collection of suitcases with digital baggage tags displayed on the outside ( While the bag still does not include an RFID tag, I believe that Rimowa could quite quickly incorporate those into their collections.

The only challenge I see is then is that close collaboration will probably be required between airlines and suitcase manufacturers to integrate their baggage tagging and tracking technologies. For now, Rimowa’s technology can for example only be used with the German airline Lufthansa.

On November 7, 2016, The Optimist commented on Animal-free Beef: A Meaty Idea :

Always very good and necessary to be reminded what a massive polluting factor livestock is! In addition to all the benefits that were mentioned about artificial meat in the blog post and the comments, I would assume that lab-grown meat could also have massive health benefits? In the lab, the meat could surely be structured so that it has less saturated fats and, hence, have less of an effect on blood cholesterol levels and related risks of heart diseases. More than that, it might be be much more durable and therefore prevent a great deal of food-poisoning incidents? These factors might be of additional help for Memphis Meat to push for additional funding and benevolent regulatory environment to achieve their great climate change mission!

On November 7, 2016, The Optimist commented on INDITEX: FROM “LOOK GOOD” TO “DO GOOD” :

Great job in how structured, analytic and well-researched this post is. One challenge I really had not thought about before is how climate change’s impact on weather leads to necessary adaptations of the launch calendar and not forecastable swings in consumer demand – it totally makes sense.

I would, however, challenge your and McKinsey’s claim that millennials are increasingly considering sustainability as a factor in their purchasing decisions. In my blog post about Stella McCartney, I actually argued that shoppers will continue to buy products because of their aesthetic, quality, functional and aspirational aspects, rather than because of a product’s eco-friendliness. So far commenters have agreed with this hypothesis.
It could be that this is a difference between fast-fashion and luxury product purchases? Maybe individuals consider sustainability aspects more in fast-fashion purchases because the polluting practices of those companies are already more salient to them? Interested to hear your perspective!

On November 7, 2016, The Optimist commented on Can the German auto industry catch up with Tesla? :

Sabine, I agree, great example on how external environmental factors and one outsider firm can shake up a whole industry. I am particularly curious about how the recent scandal around VW manipulating its emission tests will affect this race. As other German car brands are still under suspicion of whether they have followed similar practices, do German brands still stand a chance to position themselves as interested in sustainability?

Alex, I find this blog post great, as it points to a multitude of avenues of how care providers can reduce their effect in climate change. One aspect that you touched on, but that I believe would be worth to expand on is the role of waste in hospitals. First, millions of dollars of drugs, medical devices and consumables are thrown away each year unused. Here, a better management of expiration dates might help, like pharmacy automation systems already offer. Secondly, I assume there is a great volume of waste because of one-time-use products, like for example laparoscopic surgery instruments such as staplers. Here, the role of the sterilization department might become key in the future to make more of these instruments reusable and therefore save a ton of waste.

What do you think?

AR – thanks for this interesting article! I find Coca Cola’s initiatives of going water-neutral very interesting, especially as to my knowledge this is a (correct me if I am wrong) voluntary initiative, that is not mandated by any regulatory bodies.

In that sense, Coca Cola’s initiative reminds me of the concept of the voluntary carbon certificate market. There, companies and individuals set-off parts of their CO2 emissions by purchasing CO2 “certificates” from companies like myclimate, which in turn compensates CO2 by e.g. implementing energy-efficient technologies, planting trees etc (see their website: .

While it does generally not matter where the CO2 is set-off, it does very much do so for water, especially if e.g. Coca Cola is sourcing their water from already dry areas. Hence, I would be very interested to learn more about how Coca Cola chooses their water replenishing projects: Are they replenishing the water close to from where they are sourcing the water for their production? Are they reaching individuals that do not have enough drinking water?

A second thought that comes to mind is how Coca Cola balances their initiatives of water replenishment with their interest of controlling water sources for their own production of bottled water, like e.g. their Dasani brand. Much to the discussion about how the two Unilever brands Dove and Axe contradicted themselves in their advertising about women’s self-esteem, I am wondering on which side Coca Cola truly stands?