I think it would be shortsighted and foolish to underestimate Amazon as the pace of technological change continues to accelerate. As Cookie Monster outlined, a majority of Walmart’s existing customers already do their online shopping at Amazon.com, and as the NY Times revealed to us below, the trend towards online shopping will only continue to accelerate. 51% of consumers made the majority of their purchases online as of summer 2016, the first time over 50% in history. With Walmart’s asset their large retail presence and economies of scale, this places their business at an extreme structural disadvantage. WMT needs to reverse this trend, and aggressively.
Metromile is a great idea, but the risks are fundamental to the future of the concept and its application. Privacy concerns, an unwillingness of customers to supply data, as well as a lack of penetration to certain demographics or socioeconomic levels could prove disastrous for the product and the brand. In our social media age of today, the platforms that are the most effective have created a network effect that entices users to volunteer personal data because they perceive a social benefit from doing so. Metromile will have to be very clear about its value proposition (purely financial?) to convince users to be transparent.
Human Longevity is doing some interesting, and necessary, work. While I think we must work on extending our lifespans and efficacy of the human body through science, I worry that the company is taking on VC capital at a $1.2b valuation and adding the pressure of monetization at this early stage of their lifecycle. Human Longevity needs to focus on reinvesting and creating the most effective database that they can – this work should be subsidized by health and government agencies, as that’s how critical it is. The fleeting nature of venture dollars may put a strain on the investment in data needed to create the necessary longevity of the venture.
I think MCD has to continue along the digital innovation front, along with the rest of the industry. However, these initiatives serve to create the mechanism that will further the company’s relevance, which is their ability to make their guests have a positive experience where they are treated like valued customers. Creating an ‘experience’ to improve how patrons ‘feel’ is key in my opinion from my time spent covering the industry. Decreasing customer throughput times and increasing efficiency is key, but to continue to maintain their brand I believe that MCD has to use digital as a platform to create an emotional connection to the brand once again. Thanks for the insights Anisa.
A childhood favorite. Thanks for the update Sabine. One comment I’d like to debate with you however is LEGO’s ability to maintain its position in both the toy market, as well as a brand. I’d argue that LEGO achieving the brand status that it did in 2015 positions the company well for the future, particularly because of the structural headwinds it has faced in consumption trends of youth these days (digital vs. physical toys and games). I think LEGO will do well to position itself in both the learning market (as EmilyS mentioned), as well capitalize on product extensions: video games, theme parks, special events and maybe even an interactive entertainment center (smaller scale)
Thanks Anton – impressed by Google’s initiatives, yet not surprised. They say that ‘ignorance is bliss’, and with Google as the leader in the technological and information revolution, they are more knowledgeable than any on the impact of climate change on the future of our World. It only makes sense that they be at the forefront of sustainability.
Google as been carbon neutral since 2007, their data centers use 50% less energy than comparable data centers, and they are the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy on the planet – all shocking / very impressive. With that being said, I think it is good for the World and ‘good business’ for Alphabet to be doing even more. Private entities, especially progressive ones, must drive further change.
I was disappointed/saddened to read about another negative externality of Puerto Rico’s financial situation — with PRASA as the sole provider of potable water for the island and a public entity whose creditworthiness is directly tied to the credit of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, it seems as if the private markets are a viable solution to counteract this unfortunate side effect of climate change. Yes, I agree that innovation is a key driver here on the route to solve the problem, but I think that an influx of private capital with help keep the ‘flow’. After all, there is a business case for Puerto Rico.
Excellent post Heather. I’ve been a huge fan of Shake Shack, primarly spurred since working on the IPO before coming to business school. I absolutely think they have the capacity to spread sustainability in the same manner they have convinced the restaurant industry of the principles of ‘enlightened hospitality’ and ‘fine casual’. The biggest driver of the power of their message here will be their financial performance – they have dominated their peers in sales and profitability metrics, particularly on a per unit basis, and I think the stock has a bright future (despite the pull back from the hysteria associated with the IPO). Backing up their message with continued strong performance to add legitimacy will be key.
Although public consensus is on the side of climate change as a critical global issue, Patagonia is one of the first private entities I’ve seento raise their hand as being culprits in the problem and presenting tangible solutions to the problem that potentially conflict with their bottom line. It is refreshing to see Patagonia as a leader in this space, but my question is – is the problem inevitable? Will Patagonia become ‘unprofitable’ and damage it’s business prospects in the competitive outdoor retail segment by taking a socially conscious stand that it’s peers don’t? I would like to see the company market its products as superior because of these efforts, as I think to truly be sustainable my view is that they have to find underlying business reasons (which I am sure exist). Great insights!
Fantastic post and interesting insights Nik! I have faith that we will avoid the Olympics 2085 predicament you outlined by continuing to implement more and more standards based on sustainable practices globally. Adjusting the Olympics to indoors or restricting day vs. night activities would be devastating on the history of the event, in my view. We need to avoid this at all costs — I think we should harness these global events to act as a beacon for climate change given their prominence and visibility (similar to the educational components of the opening ceremonies).