I love your post, because it brought to light an issue I’d never thought about before. I wonder if this might be more a product of a culture of consumption rather than a culture of digitization? Today I’d venture that people buy far more “things” then they did in previous generations and view them as inherently replaceable. That doesn’t fully resolve the issue, since something like an unsafe bike helmet can have life or death consequences (you can’t replace a brain), but it does address why someone might buy a vacuum off of good reviews rather than based on Consumer Reports. I wonder if there’s an opportunity for Consumer Reports to co-market with other products aimed at new parents – I suspect this is when consumers might start to place more value on data than online reviews (not unlike how Angie’s List was able to specifically target new home owners).
Hi Anca – love the post and international perspective! I’ve only used an online grocery service once (Instacart) and wasn’t particularly impressed. The driver got very lost trying to find my apartment, called me numerous times, eventually found my place but then delivered 2 bags of groceries that were mine and 2 for another customer and had to come back to fix his error. The hassle was such that even though the *idea* of grocery delivery sounds great, the experienced made it significantly less convenient. How does Ocando ensure consistent and positive customer experiences? Are their drivers working for Ocando full-time? If so, I could see significant advantages to training and consistency (I don’t think InstaCart has enough of a customer base to employee folks full time and as such, I suspect many drivers are learning as they go).
Great post! I think the biggest challenge online universities will face is getting people to take them seriously. In general, I think most people view online degrees as far less respected than a classroom-based degree. I was very skeptical of online learning until I took a Kaplan GMAT course last summer. I was extremely impressed by Kaplan’s ability to make the course highly interactive, even while being all online. In some ways I felt like I was more on-my-toes than if I were in a lecture based class and because I lived in a small city (Madison, WI), taking an online course opened up many more option to me than if I’d chosen an in person course. That said, my GMAT course was mostly content based, whereas a degree like an MBA is develop ways of thinking rather than content memorization. I’m concerned that would be harder to teach online, but actually have a fairly optimistic view and think in an increasingly globalized world, online education will be more common. Rather than going all online, I think it would work better to offer a hybrid program where a cohort of students gets to know each other in person over several weeks before completing coursework online.
This is really interesting. It seems that RTR is capitalizing on a culture obsessed with celebrity and “pics or it didn’t happen,” making red carpet fashion accessible to all (or many more) women. In some ways this makes me really sad – rather than customers placing a premium on quality, we’re placing a premium on the ability to always have the latest thing. In other ways, I’d rather see these dresses fully utilized (and instead of being worn once and then in the back of the closet, they are cleaned and rented out again and again). I’m conflicted about whether I agree with this as a good thing, but I’m impressed with the logistics they’ve put together to make this all work!
Nice post! I was fascinated by the sudden rise of Pokemon Go last summer — I remember one night was out in a public park hanging out with a friend when we started to realize that everyone around us was playing Pokemon Go. My biggest question is whether this was a one-hit-wonder or is replicable? It seems like Pokemon Go brought together a perfect storm – it launched in the summer and encouraged people to get outside, it was nostalgic in its theme, but novel in its application. That said, it doesn’t seem like something people are still playing – it seemed like it was a flash in the pan last summer and now is a fad we laugh about. I’m curious to see what they will launch for Mario in December and if this success can be achieved again, and more importantly, sustained.
Excellent and enlightening post. I usually think of the public sector as being a late adopter when it comes to new technology so it’s interesting to see the housing authority as a leader in sustainable design. It does seem strange that it took the housing authority until 2016 (and $17bn in obligations) to start working on a plan towards financial stability — I’m surprised there aren’t more checks and balances to ensure capital improvements aren’t just pushed off indefinitely (likely leading to much larger costs down the road). I would love to hear from some of the international folks in our section how public housing works in their home countries if anyone could share!
Really interesting post on the chocolate supply chain! I had no idea so much research was going into research on meteorology, GMOs, and other levers to mitigate risk to cocoa sourcing. One question I take away from this is whether Mars’ products are sustainable, even if they are produced in a sustainable way. Sugar-laced treats are key culprit in the increasing burden of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which has led to skyrocketing healthcare costs. Although its obviously not possible to link Mars directly to these health concerns and their ultimate costs, I do question the premise of producing chocolate more sustainable if its used to make candy that leads to far greater downstream costs for consumer health…
It sounds like the inherent risk flood insurance protects against has increased and the program has not adapted to meet this changing risk (instead relying on 1970s and 1980s estimates). You say there are “no palatable options” to deal with this – which seems a little pessimistic. It seems like there’s actually quite a lot the program could do to become more viable – first, they could refuse to insure homes built in flood plains (the demand for water front property has led to homes being built in these areas) – ideally this would reduce the demand/sale-ability of these homes so developers would stop developing in flood plains. Second, they could raise premiums for those with the highest flood risk, to better cover the cost of the risk being protected against (and again, further dissuade buyers from purchasing homes in high risk areas). As you note, the first step is to update estimates so that these decisions can be made based on current data. Great post – thanks for sharing!
This is interesting (and a little scary as a coffee lover!). It’s interesting to me that coffee chains aren’t doing more to educate consumers on climate change, the way they have educated consumers on fair trade. If this is really a major issue affecting their business, it seems like it would make sense to inform, educate and invite action from consumers (for example, Starbucks has photos and maps in their stores showing their growers to educate consumers on fair trade supply chain and offers consumers the option of buying fair trade coffees at a premium price — it seems like Peet’s could do something similar for climate change). Perhaps they haven’t because of the way climate change has been politicized (unlike fair trade) and they may not want to alienate some consumers from one side of the political spectrum…
Hi Claire – great post! I recently received an Everlane catalog in the mail and noticed in large print on the back of the catalog it said “This catalog cost $0.63 to ship to you” in smaller letters below it noted that the company valued radical transparency and you could learn more at their website. I normally toss catalogs as soon as I receive them (often before I even leave the mail room), but was struck by the oddity of listing the price of the catalog on it and was interested enough to pull up their website (exactly their goal!). I think Everyone’s transparency is working – the question is is it a gimmick or a real opportunity to improve the supply chain for fast fashion?