Thanks for the thoughts Bruce – it’s great to see what John Deere is doing to combat some important issues in agriculture. I wanted to expand on two important issues you raise: (1) that farmers are slow to change and (2) whether John Deere will be able to invest in innovations that financially incentivize farmers to adopt these new tools. As some of the (amazing) comments above have stated, it will be important to help farmers afford these new tools. Right now, per Grant’s comments, it doesn’t seem like there is enough incentive to switch out existing equipment beyond the moral/environmental argument, which does not seem to be working effectively. Wall Street will also likely have a tough time accepting any profitability losses that John Deere might take on in extending cheaper financing on these types of products than more traditional ones. The question then remains, how do we get farmers to adopt these innovative new products? Is there a player within Big Ag that is more suited to make these investments and upgrade farm equipment than the farmers themselves? Someone a la Ikea that is large and has a vested interest in making the supply chain more sustainable? I do not frankly understand Big Agriculture business well enough to know the answers to these questions, but it seems like we could include a more well-capitalized intermediary in this process to aid in making change.
Thanks for this article Fritz – while sustainability in food production is often talked about, I have not given as careful consideration to the sustainability of beer as I have to the frequency I consume it with. I agree with many of the points that have been brought up in the comments regarding how their moves in sustainability could positively impact their brand. It seems there are many cases where companies have approached issues on sustainability and questioned to what extent they should be advertised – Ikea, Patagonia, Victoria’s Secret, Southwest to name a few. Companies wonder how important these approaches are to attracting a loyal customer base. I think your essay brings out a key consideration – who is your customer base? What do they care about? For many beer consumers that prefer small, locally-sourced drinks, sustainability likely is a key driver of a consumer’s choice in beer. To answer your last question, I do have hope that Sierra Nevada can lead the charge, establishing some best practices along the way, and showing that there is demand from consumers for sustain-ably-sourced drinking. (P.S. thank you for all the puns)
Thanks for the post, Marie. I had no idea Victoria’s Secret was running into these issues or facing this criticism. While I understand where much of the pushback comes from in the comments above, I do think that a new “environmentally-friendly line” as you suggest, could be effective here. Some have mentioned that Victoria’s Secret is seen as too sexy — I viewed the creation of the “Pink” line to be a direct response to that. Victoria’s Secret could easily launch a new and separate brand to draw in some of those consumers who would be attracted to environmentally conscious fabrics. On the other hand, to their existing customer base, I think it could serve as an education mechanism. Many consumers have no idea that this issue should even be on their minds. I think having a product set that addresses these issues could work well.
Berit, I loved your article and the issues you raised because I had no idea that UPS was invested in this technology, and had especially not thought of 3D printing as a threat to their business model. I also appreciate the last question you asked – as we learned in finance, it doesn’t always make sense for companies to invest in new projects, especially if they have nothing to do with their current business model. That then leads to the next question – how directly related are these two businesses actually? Should UPS be doing this diversification for us or as investors should we seek it out on our own? That conclusion from finance was actually frustrating to me because, as UPS, what do you do? Hope that enough traditional business will persist to carry the business into the future? Expect that 3D printing will never get to the scale as true, tangible goods? While this issue is specific to UPS, the questions it brings up, and what to do in the face of even just a little bit of disruption, are hard to answer.
I really enjoyed this article Ninad, and appreciate your last point about this new phenomenon where distributors and creators of content are becoming consolidated. As much as us millennials love to “hate the man” (and the big corporation), it seems like it is just going to be harder and harder to avoid him, especially in an era where internet and connectivity are so important, and regulations protecting net neutrality may be unfortunately pulled back. I think it is super important for us as consumers to realize the extent to which brand names and infrastructure are consolidated in these top players, and do what we can from the consumer perspective to prevent them from dominating.
As Berit, Darrin, and others have brought up – I do wonder how the streaming industry evolves. Clearly there is a consumer preference for a single platform – Netflix, Uber, Amazon, Spotify, Google – but at what point do we as consumers realize the risks of making companies bigger than they potentially should be?
This was a great summary and analysis of a situation I had not thought of before from this perspective. I specifically appreciated all your suggestions to Southwest to mitigate the effects of severe natural disasters on operations. This post reminded me of the Ikea case. To some extent, I wonder how sincere and genuine Southwest’s efforts at sustainability truly are. Yet again, we have a case where the company doing something to fix the problem is also one of the companies causing the issues. As such, I would add a third bucket to your proposed solutions: what should Southwest do to help the effects of climate change? Perhaps they should focus on co-developing airplanes to be more fuel efficient, or focus on gas-saving even aside from times of temperature stress.