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Compelling perspective. I agree that Patagonia is extremely unique within the fashion industry for it’s perspective on the environment and actions it is taking as a result. Yvon Chouinard is impressive for his iconoclastic stance and attitude towards the environment compared to almost every other company. Still, I feel his position is unlikely to be adopted by nearly any other company, especially public companies. Chouinard made a values-based decision as a leader to keep Patagonia private and focus on efforts like the environment, which has been enabled by Patagonia’s success. Still, this decision will keep Patagonia necessarily smaller than it could be (which he accepts), and I don’t think Patagonia will achieve it’s goal as many other fashion and outdoor companies close the gap with Patagonia in terms of quality and performance. The biggest question for me is how Patagonia survives into the future once Chouinard is no longer in charge, and how the company balances it’s profit incentive with non-profitable goals like environmental efforts. On a long-enough time horizon, I expect Patagonia to fade into obscurity and it’s legacy will depend on the amount of “good” it achieved while a viable company.

I agree with other commenters than efforts by Cirque to influence isolationist policies will likely be a waste of resources- the powers and politics at play are too entrenched for a relatively small organization to see the necessary results for the investment of capital/effort. Instead, Cirque will probably be best served by creating performances in the short term with artists who can participate despite the isolationist policies, and take all possible action to prepare for these effects before they directly affect existing shows and plans.

As for Justin’s thoughts, while VR does offer an interesting potential solution, I don’t think it would be an adequate option for Cirque. I feel too much of Cirque’s value proposition relies on the real, physical presence of performers and audience. Otherwise, we’d already see a much larger market for videos of performances.

Assuming climate change will continue/persist into the future, I think E&J should take a different approach than some of what’s suggested here. Despite glacial government/societal-level efforts to take action to stabilize global temperatures, it seems a more prudent course for E&J would be to invest in new land holdings in areas in which winemaking was previously not viable, but which will become possible as climate change materializes in the future.

I feel that lobbying efforts will bear no measurable gain for E&J, other than the possibility of rent-seeking from governments (i.e., receiving subsidies to replace lost revenue and reestablish vineyards in new locations), and therefore aren’t worth time or emphasis from the wine industry. It also seems like the expertise within the wine industry already knows which grapes, plants, soils, and techniques are best for various climates, therefore the research efforts seem largely unnecessary. One place where research could be useful, though, would be potential GMO variants of existing wines- while low-tech efforts the author mentions do seem viable, GMO grapes could be engineered to easily withstand anticipated temperature changes, thereby reducing the need for moving winery locations.

Tristan- I enjoyed your analysis of this existential question for Costco (and indeed, most brick & mortar retailers). I agree that Costco is challenged to adapt its business model to compete with the likes of WalMart (Sam’s Club having a nearly identical model to Costco, and Jet.com as Justin pointed out) and Amazon/Whole Foods.

While I’m normally critical of incumbent businesses and their habit of failing to adapt to changing conditions, I actually believe Costco is at less risk than other retail businesses. While they should embrace a larger online presence, I think Costco’s customer base are far more “sticky” than retail consumers on average. This is because Costco customers tend to be more price-sensitive (hence shopping in bulk and not prioritizing brands), and plan purchases farther ahead (to obtain bulk items, travel to Costco location) than convenience shoppers who go to nearby retail locations or shop for convenience online. I think Costco faces a major challenge trying to shift their bulk model to online sales, as the shipping/delivery costs have to be baked in to prices and that erodes a major portion of Costco’s model- having large stores farther from urban centers that people are willing to plan and drive to to buy large amounts of items. Changing central pieces of this model will be difficult for Costco.

You picked a compelling topic, Vijay. I agree with you that CVS is taking steps to react to challenges to its business, and that thus far, they’re insufficient to respond to changing technologies and conditions. This scenario raises a number of additional challenges that could further hinder CVS’s adaptation to competitive pressures. First, I’m curious how CVS could encounter and overcome regulatory challenges that could hinder your recommended vertical integration. I agree that solidifying their value proposition to customers by becoming a “one-stop-shop” ecosystem will help insulate them from competitors; however, Amazon could challenge this effort through their own upcoming insurance initiative or via partnerships to integrate with health care competitors to CVS. As more consumers shift to ecommerce, I think Amazon will probably succeed in executing a tech-enabled version of the 1990’s revolution in mail-order generic drugs- eating CVS’s lunch and taking over a sizable portion of the business.

On December 1, 2017, TSP commented on ‘Keep on Trucking’ : UPS and the digital supply chain :

Compelling analysis, Anusha! You effectively highlight what is clearly a major issue for UPS and make some compelling recommendations. Some additional considerations you prompted me to think about were how UPS can affect subsequent government regulatory efforts/decisions, and whether this move to autonomous trucking offers an opportunity for UPS to further differentiate itself from competitors, or if this development makes UPS more vulnerable to competitors threatening it’s business. I’d be curious about your perspective on that question, as well as your thoughts on the question Eric presented regarding the companies UPS might partner with. One other concern I’d have is whether other tech companies (Amazon, Tesla) might also seek out UPS’ competitors for partnerships to then challenge UPS directly.