As a loyal Costco consumer I found your article very interesting. Recently I’ve taken note of Costco’s ramped up efforts to develop their online business with a string of weekly emails in by inbox. It’s interesting that Sams Club is ahead of Costco in the online shopping space. I imagine being part of Walmart, Sams club has benefited from the significant investment Walmart has made in the digital retail experience. I think one major risk for both Costco and Sams Club is competition from online retailers like Boxed.com who are offering many of the bulk food items found at at the club stores (fresh and frozen too!) for convenience delivery to your home. Store-pick up sounds nice, but home deliver sounds even better.
What a surprising move by Amazon! It excites me because I am one of those consumers who has resisted the e-book trend. There is just something about the physical book in hand that I can’t let go of. I’m very curious to see how Amazon will leverage their vast set of data on consumer preferences and behavior to design the in-store experience and bring differential value to consumer. It’s Amazon, I’m sure they will figure it out! Can’t wait to visit one of these stores.
As a consumer of NYT Now, I was sad to see the application go this fall. It offered the on-the-go news consumption experience that fit with my lifestyle, from a source that was much more legitimate that many of the less familiar sites that litter my facebook feed. I wonder why the application wasn’t a success. One thought is that, perhaps, the NYT is struggling to straddle the two worlds of traditionally-delivered, thoughtful/long-form news, with the digital, bite-sized news of today. Perhaps there will always be a place for the NYT as the higher quality and more reliable news source, and trying to compete too heavily in the modular and customized style of digital news today will hurt their brand and erode their competitive advantage.
Fascinating post. I wonder if B-fresh can leverage it digital price indicators to practice more real-time pricing that will help manage inventory and better match supply/demand. “Price discrimination” as we have discussed in Marketing… For example, when the store has very low inventory on a certain item, say bread, they can more readily adjust the price up to keep bread to extract maximum value for the highest WTP consumers versus being out of stock on bread.
Very timely post given Airbnb recent announcement on expanding their offerings. I think that Airbnb’s desire to become a wholistic travel and experience company (rather than just accommodations) will be achieved by their new ventures. I also really like the suggestions that you provide for Airbnb on how it can continue to use digitization to impact the travel experience. One other potential drawback that I see is concerns with privacy. For the same reason it took consumers a while to adopt Airbnb, I wonder if consumers are ready to begin sharing their locations via GPS with people they just met.
Thanks for the comments! Forgot to add my sources to the post when I submitted. See below.
Interesting post on such a storied and iconic brand, Ari! Two things come to mind while reading:
1) Control of the supply chain. You mention the challenge that Coke faces in driving sustainability through the entire supply chain because it lacks ability to regulate downstream where is doesn’t have control. In TOM we have seen this challenge for other firm’s such as IKEA and Barilla. One option is more vertical integration as you mention. Another is using scale to influence. If Coke is really serious about advancing sustainability it its products, it would be great to see them use their size to more effectively shape the practices of their supply chain partners.
2) Reinvigorating the Brand. Being a soda company is tough these days. As consumers have become increasingly aware of the health risks and harm caused by soda consumption, perceptions of firms like Coca Cola and PepsiCo have soured. I agree with you that Coke should do more to promote sustainability externally in addition to within the organization. I think Coke has a tremendous opportunity to re-build its brand image by becoming more vocal and active about advancing sustainability efforts in the industry.
Great article Joe! It’s good to see that Whole Foods is tackling the effects of climate change it its operations. Frankly, I am surprised that a company they are not more outspoken and visible in the efforts to lobby for climate change policies and legislation. Equally surprising is that they haven’t set clear and specific sustainability targets with a coherent strategy to achieve them. To me, sustainability fits nicely with the Whole Foods brand and their typical consumer who shops there with a desire to obtain more locally sourced products free of GMOs and other pesticides. In not being as vocal and transparent about sustainability, it seems that Whole Foods is missing an opportunity to align their brand with sustainability which could provide valuable differentiation in the category and help them recover from the negative brand impact of recent price controversies.
I love how Patagonia has really created a brand around sustainability. Encouraging clothing repair instead of repurchase really speaks to the firm’s commitment to sustainability as well as their belief it its benefit to the overall brand. Many short-sighted profit driven firms would never think about doing that! I also like how Patagonia has become an “industry expert” in the sustainability space where other companies reach out to them for advice and expertise. So, it seems like there is a desire for more information sharing on sustainability across firms. You mention that Patagonia has been criticized for not walking the walk. I wonder if there is an opportunity for them to become a leader in the clothing/apparel industry and perhaps start a council that firms could join that would bring best practice sharing and advance efforts across the entire apparel industry.
Really interesting article about my former employer! I was proud to work for a company that recognize’s its obligation to drive advance sustainability effort across the entire supply chain. As we have seen in a few cases in TOM, it can be difficult for firms to influence the entire supply chain when they don’t have control. From your post, its clear that General Mills doesn’t have much control. 99% of the water used occurs outside of its direct operations. Though, General Mills doesn’t let that fact stop it from making an impact and driving sustainable practices across the entire supply chain. The company uses it’s scale to influence to make a difference by mandating water conservation and sustainability across the entire supply chain.
This article is very striking because I commonly hear about the effects of climate change and sea level rise discussed in the future tense. “What could happen….” “What will happen…” But this post reinforces that it is happening today! Many of the world’s most iconic cities are the most exposed to sea-level rise. Miami beach is a critically important city to South Florida’s tourism industry, real-estate market and overall economy. In a state like Florida with a conservative state government that doesn’t seem to act with policies that recognize the urgency of climate change, I wonder how the problems that Miami Beach is facing are driving the conversations and view points among state lawmakers. I hope that this catalyzes lawmakers to act through aggressive policies in addition to providing the funding to address the more short term fixes to keep Miami Beach dry.