Great article, Nicolas! It’s interesting to think about supply chain problems related to the spread of data. I think an interesting trend prompting some of the isolationist policies around data is privacy. Many technology companies have been pushing the envelope on collecting consumer data, and there are significant variations in policies across different countries. Facebook specifically has been called out for transferring data from the EU to the US (source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-eu-privacy-facebook/ireland-asks-europes-top-court-to-rule-on-eu-u-s-data-transfers-idUSKCN1C80XQ). European regulators are concerned about their citizens data being subject to surveillance in the US. Although this was not the immediate focus for Microsoft, it will be very interesting to see how technology companies are able to adapt to better satisfy global consumer privacy requirements.
Thanks for the article, Luke! If the UK has to revert to WTO tariffs with the EU, I think General Mills will be forced to raise prices on their dairy products in the UK. They could try to transfer production to the UK, but the costs associated with doing so may be substantial. I think they can offset some of the necessary price increases by decreasing the size of their dairy products. Many companies in the UK have moved toward this style of ‘shrinkflation.’ Already, Toblerone bars are smaller and the new shape of the candy bars has become a popular meme to represent the impacts of Brexit on the UK. Although it’s not preferable for consumers, given the context it might be unavoidable for GM to sell less for a little bit more.
Great article! Like Monica, I’ve always been a little confused by Amazon’s Dash. While I appreciate the value of the data and potentially learning more about the exact moment someone runs out of an essential good, I’m still skeptical about the potential usefulness of Dash for Amazon. I don’t believe the data from Dash reveals much more than what Amazon already has through the huge amounts of data it gets from it’s existing apps. From an ease-of-ordering standpoint, they already track orders closely and offer subscription pricing discounts on basic products and make it as easy as possible to order from your phone. I’m also not sure consumers actually will press the dash button exactly when they run out and so the data they get may not be very reliable. Finally, I’m not sure how a separate voice-enabled tool adds value given the growth and push for users to utilize Amazon’s Alexa devices. People can already order through Alexa so why would they need the Wand?
I do appreciate that Dash buttons may help groom people to remember to shop at Amazon first and also remind them how easy it is to order from Amazon. People may enjoy the technology behind it and brands like the constant exposure to their converted customers. I’ll be curious to see future Dash iterations and hopefully understand whether there are additional end product goals for Dash. Amazon seems to be doubling down on Dash products and it will be interesting to see if they ultimately can develop technology that would actually imitate ‘smart’ products.
Thanks for an interesting article on how an innovative company is trying to solve last mile logistics. To answer your questions about barriers to entry, I’d be curious to know more about the geographical footprint of Aramex’s operations. In the Zalora Philippines case in marketing, we were introduced to some of the huge last mile logistical challenges facing companies in emerging markets. Aramex’s website says that their goal is to create ‘greater trade in and between emerging markets.’ (source: https://www.aramex.com/about/about-aramex). If they stay focused on emerging markets, I would be less concerned about competition from companies like Amazon that have primarily focused to date on more mature markets. In the meantime, they can establish market dominance and may be harder to disrupt.
I share the concerns of the other commenters about the challenges of partnering with large bureaucratic organizations like post offices. Given the pressure for highly innovative companies to disrupt and move fast, I’m skeptical that even if they can secure partnerships they will be able to effectively work together.
Thanks for a very interesting article about how a company that has created a harmful behavioral shift with consumers can still work to have a positive environmental impact. The story of Inditex reminds me a lot of our case on Ikea and some of the same fundamental questions we faced in that case apply here.
I’d love to see Inditex continue and increase their focus on sustainability to become an industry leader in fashion. In response to your question about whether their efforts are honest or opportunistic, I’m not as concerned with their motives as long as they walk the talk and continue to take steps to improve sustainability. I’m optimistic that fast fashion retailers can lead change and develop practices that can filter throughout the fashion industry. Given the industry growth you note in the article, I think the fast fashion business model is here to stay and the best way to address the core issues it creates is through dedicated sustainability programs. Hopefully, Inditex will not only focus on the creation of the clothing in its sustainability efforts and will, as Motoaki mentions above, take steps to reduce the environmental impact of used clothing through recycling and reusability.
Similar to the other people commenting on this article, reading about a potential future without chocolate is alarming to me. This is an interesting case given the limited production area for cacao trees. For me, the most interesting questions raised here are whether there are alternative ways that chocolate growers can either adapt cacao trees to grow in other conditions and if it’s possible to genetically engineer substitutes for cacao. Given that some food technology companies are already creating meat in labs, I’m curious how difficult it it to produce alternatives for chocolate. I’d be curious to know how Mars prioritizes their research and development and how far away some of these potential solutions are from coming to fruition.
I’m optimistic that Mars will be consistent in their efforts to increase their own sustainability both from a greenhouse gas and a local community standpoint. While their individual efforts likely won’t have a substantive effort on global climate change, the importance of having industrial leaders as beacons in the fight against climate change is hugely important. Having Mars and other influential companies hold themselves accountable to their targets can influence whole industries and have a tangible impact on climate change. Given the current global attention on climate change, many companies are making these promises and I believe that sustainable business practices will become the norm as more companies publicly commit to measurable sustainability goals.