I like your comments about Nordstrom needing to reevaluate what is can deliver to its customer to maintain a competitive advantage. In many of the circumstances where an incumbent company is now trying to maintain relevant when a disruptive competitor has entered, I think it is better to not try and beat the competitor at its own game, but to find something new and unique to promote. So in this example, Amazon will win the convenience game, and though Nordstrom should take certain actions to improve convenience too, such as digital dressing rooms, etc. they have to think critically about what other value they can provide to their customers that’s unique and something that Amazon is not able to provide so that they are not trying to beat a competitor at what they do best.
I think its always important for companies facing pricing pressures to reevaluate what truly is their value proposition to customers. I think it’s smart for companies like Stolt Containers, that historically had a very simple value proposition to be forward thinking and see how they can be less of just a transport company, but one that can provide a breadth of services and conveniences to their customers in order to maintain a competitive advantage and maintain prices. Its key to be honest about what business you’re actually in, (for example Amazon not being so much a market place as much as an expert in logistics) so that you can stay ahead of your consumers evolving expectations.
I think these types of debates are always a question of not whether we want to keep jobs in the US, but what types of jobs do we want to keep in the US. The move to manufacture in China, if it creates a healthier business for Ford overall, puts them in a better position to grow and expand and perhaps create additional jobs in the US. In my opinion, globalization will continue in the long-term despite any efforts to stop it, so I think its important for companies and governments to see how jobs can evolve in the US, how we can train and educate our workforce rather than fight to save traditional ones.
I think this is an interesting subject that many companies are struggling with. I think one of the biggest questions is whether a company is willing to bet that the isolationist trend is a short-term or long-term one. Many of the strategies you’re discussing that Nike is either already doing or will do are based on assumptions that these trends will continue. In my personal opinion, globalization cannot be stopped and in the long-term will overcome isolationist actions we’re seeing now. So should Nike re-shore its production if in the long-term this isn’t the most cost-effective method of competing? I like the fact that they are trying to combat the labor cost issue through automation rather than moving its workforce as this is a strategy that can be successful regardless of regulation or new tariffs. I think Nike has to be careful to implement strategies that can be successful in both a global and isolationist environment since it is something that will constantly be evolving through time and different administrations.
The issue of coffee production is similar to that of wine producers. It is great the efforts Nespresso is making, but I’m concerned they won’t be able to create enough of an impact to prevent coffee farms from disappearing completely in certain locations. Helping local producers financially can help in the short term, but with the given trends, it may be impossible to grow beans in certain locations altogether. My concern will be that going forward, the only farms that will survive, will be those with significant enough money to be able to move their production to new locations with more desirable climates, like what wine makers have done. So the question is, what do the displaced farmers do now? Are there other crops they can plant to replace coffee? I don’t think we’ll ever run out of coffee because those with money will continually move around the globe to wherever they can produce, but it will squeeze out the farmers with less fortunate financial positions. Nespresso in addition to their current efforts will need to do their best to work with governments to make larger steps to help slow climate change altogether. Or, to your point, work to create GMO beans that can survive in hotter, drier climates.
While I do agree that the evidence is undeniable that eating lots of beef is bad for our environment, I wonder whether lab grown meat is the best solution and even sustainable in the long-term. You mention how expensive it is to produce which inhibits its ability to be accessible or desirable to the larger population, but it I have a few additional concerns. First, will it be scalable to a level that can actually make a significant impact on climate change? The world consumes a LOT of beef. Would the production of mass producing lab-grown beef really have a net decrease in carbon emissions? An additional concern for me is the global food crisis we’re facing. The rising price of food and the sluggish growth in agribusiness cannot support our growing world population (http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/print/2009/06/cheap-food/bourne-text). Not only does beef production create large levels of emissions, but it’s an incredibly inefficient way to feed people. I’d be more inclined to encourage governments to do what they can to encourage citizens to adopt more vegetarian diets. This is cheaper, can feed a larger group of people and solves both the food crisis and the climate crisis. Lastly, with consumers’ aversion to GMO products, I can see this product having difficulty with adoption as many consumers may be suspicious of lab grown beef. So in summary, I think you had all very valid suggestions for this company to succeed, but to your last question “Is this even remotely possible?” I am skeptical whether it is.