December 6, 2019

This week, multiple news outlets reported about a poor potato crop in Canada and the U.S. that could potentially affect the nation’s French fry supply. With winter weather arriving early throughout North America, potato growers lost thousands of acres of crops due to freezing temperatures. As a result, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that American spud production will drop by six percent this year. And since potatoes used for French fries tend to be harvested later in the season, Continue reading

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December 5, 2019

Although gum companies like Wrigley have been in business for more than a century, today’s consumers aren’t nearly as interested in chewing gum as past generations. From 2010 to 2018, gum sales dropped by 23 percent in the U.S. and 4 percent globally. “Chewing gum is becoming less socially acceptable,” said Mondelez Foods CEO Dirk Van de Put. As the maker of brands like Trident and Dentyne, Mondelez and its competitor Wrigley are trying to convince consumers that gum can Continue reading

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December 3, 2019

Analysts at Adobe estimate that consumers spent more than $29 billion online last week between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. Although brick-and-mortar sales rose slightly as well, e-commerce sales surged to record highs as consumers increasingly turned to online retailers for their holiday shopping needs. In fact, experts predict that companies like Amazon earned as much as $9.4 billion on Cyber Monday alone. 

But while Amazon enjoyed another successful start to the festive season in the U.S., the e-commerce giant Continue reading

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November 26, 2019

If you have plans to travel this week for Thanksgiving, then you should already know that you won’t be the only one. According to experts, a record number of travelers will either fly or drive at least 50 miles to celebrate the holiday. As a result, the nation’s airports and highways will be jammed with travelers, inevitably leading to widespread traffic and plane delays. 

The trade organization Airlines for America estimates that a record 31.6 million people will fly Continue reading

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November 22, 2019

Yesterday, we looked at how video game companies earn billions of dollars annually by selling virtual products to an ever-growing market. Inspired by the success of this unusual industry, some clothing companies have started selling digital outfits that don’t exist in the real world. For instance, the fashion label The Fabricant recently sold a virtual dress for $9,500 to the wife of a San Francisco tech executive. Although she cannot actually put on her expensive new outfit, she can Photoshop Continue reading

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November 21, 2019

Analysts estimate that last year consumers spent more than $50 billion on virtual items in video games like Counter-Strike and World of Warcraft. This lengthy but highly informative video explains why the market for virtual items has grown bigger than global box office returns for the movie industry. 

Questions:

  1. How are in-game economies similar to real-world economic systems?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of online marketplaces that sell virtual goods?
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November 19, 2019

Thanks to the popularity of streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, some lucky musicians can go viral and attract large fan bases very quickly. In the past, artists often had to tour across the country for years playing small clubs before they got noticed by major record labels. That’s not the case these days, though. For instance, the teenage singer-songwriter Billie Eilish released her debut album less than a year ago and has already sold out a stretch of Continue reading

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November 15, 2019

This week, Google announced that it’s launching a banking service next year that will offer “smart checking” accounts to mobile-focused customers. Known as Cache, the program is the result of a collaboration between the search giant and two banks: Citigroup and Stanford Credit Union. Although details of the partnership remain limited at this time, Google eventually wants Cache to become an extension of its Google Pay app. The company also claims that customers will “benefit from useful insights and budgeting Continue reading

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November 14, 2019

Earlier this year, McDonald’s spent $300 million acquiring a data analysis and artificial intelligence startup called Dynamic Yield. Along with providing the fast food chain with tons of information about its operations, this new technology will also help the company upgrade its growing fleet of self-ordering kiosks. Customers can place orders on these large touchscreens rather than wait in line, which the company claims improves efficiency and increases sales. As a result, McDonald’s wants to place these machines in as Continue reading

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November 12, 2019

Major conglomerates like Procter & Gamble, Kimberly Clark and Georgia-Pacific earn more than $31 billion annually from toilet paper sales. But while this industry is certainly lucrative, it’s not exactly innovative. After all, one of the few significant developments these companies have made in recent decades is to sell larger rolls. Brands such as Charmin and Quilted Northern treat their products like commodities, meaning that they compete primarily based on price. By concentrating on value, the biggest names in toilet Continue reading

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