This is a thought-provoking piece on the conflicts facing Walmart as it is faced with isolationist demands. On the one hand, their customer base demands low prices, but it is also this same (or very similar) customer base that is in support of President Trump demanding manufacturing jobs in China, which keep prices low, to be moved to America.
I believe ultimately many jobs will remain in China because of the deep economic benefits, as much as our current leadership demands otherwise, but Walmart will need to find ways to increase the perception that they are creating jobs and driving economic value in the US. Hopefully they will find a way to provide better pay to their lowest-paid employees so that at least they are benefiting from the increased profits from Walmart’s business in China.
Thanks for this write-up about a topic that I didn’t know much about before. It’s so interesting that this commodity is one of the many things causing tension between our government and other countries’ leaders.
In response to your questions:
1 – Cayuga has the right to publicly pressure the Canadian government, but it may not be the smartest move, as there are likely many other countries that they could expand to without as much pushback. However, the concern with pursuing other countries is that shipping costs will be much higher and may not be worth it. That being said, it would be interesting for them to look into emerging markets for opportunities there.
2) Canada is right to protect this industry if it is that important to their country. We can’t assign a dollar value to another country’s cultural value on a product, so even if it may not make perfect sense to from our economic standpoint, we should respect their beliefs and help influence them to make a change rather than completely disregard their cultural attachment to their own milk.
Fascinating piece, thanks for sharing. I was not aware of their sustainability practices, and was interested to learn about how they were looking to reduce their footprint.
To respond to your questions, I do think they can sustain their low cost customer offering over time, as technologies improve efficiencies over time. It is up to them to begin marketing their sustainability commitments to better capitalize on their social impact work, and this may also allow them some headroom in selling their clothes at a slight premium. Through this, they will absolutely influence other retailers.
My question arising from this is – while it is admirable that H&M is adopting sustainable practices from an energy standpoint, their business model is based on fast fashion, which essentially banks on people throwing clothing away after just a few wears every season. How will H&M faithfully pursue their goal of sustainability when their business growth relies on clothing with incredibly short useful lives?
Great piece. I particularly enjoyed your point about Pfizer needing to adopt IoT technology in order to remain hyper competitive. I agree that this is necessary, and wonder what data at which points will be most useful when implementing technology. Getting it set up is not the hard part, but rather, deciding which metrics truly matter most.
As for the response from smaller pharma companies, even though they have less resources, because of their sizes, their advantage is that they are able to move and adapt much more quickly. At scale, communication typically breaks down more easily, and changes in a large chain will be difficult to implement. However, it is true that Pfizer has a massive advantage over these small players.
This was a fascinating read on how digitalization has created space for a printing business specifically in Japan. It’s interesting that this model works particularly well in Japan because the culture is so strongly attached to printing. I wonder if other countries have cultural ties to printing as well – whether it be through wedding stationery (thank you cards seem to still be sent through physical mail in America), or photo books (like what Google Photos just launched a few months ago).
There still seems to be an appetite for printed products because of their physicality, but at the same time Raksul should build a more defensible business by finding other ways to create value using their digital technology as printed products become less popular over time.
Thanks for writing about this. As the world’s largest brewer, ABI has a responsibility to guide their business towards more sustainable methods and serve as an example for other brewers in the industry. In response to your first question, they should be investing in multiple areas – not just in seeds and reduction of water usage, but also look into re-using water. They have already looked into re-using materials used to make beer (http://grist.org/food/anheuser-busch-turns-beer-leftovers-into-usable-products/), which is absolutely on the right track. There won’t be one single solution that will solve everything, but rather, a myriad of changes over time in their processes.
To answer your second question – I don’t think consumers will reduce their beer consumption because of its water usage. They will willingly give up things like almonds (1 gallon for each nut!) long before even considering beer.