December 10, 2019

According to the Census of Agriculture, from 2002 to 2017 Christmas tree production fell by 30 percent as artificial trees grew in popularity. American growers now harvest fewer than 15 million trees annually, down from 21 million in the early 2000s. Meanwhile, sales of artificial trees have steadily risen thanks to their affordability and convenience. Not only are plastic Christmas trees clean and reusable, but they’re also considerably safer than real trees that can quickly catch fire with a single 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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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 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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November 7, 2019

Airbnb has grown into a multi-billion dollar company by providing people with an online platform where they can temporarily rent out their house or apartment to guests. Although this app has changed how millions of people travel, it’s also generated a lot of controversy since launching more than a decade ago. In some popular travel destinations, landlords have displaced longtime residents in order to make room for as many Airbnbs as possible. As a result, cities like London and Barcelona Continue reading

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October 31, 2019

For this year’s Halloween festivities, Americans will spend an estimated $8.8 billion on items like candy, decorations, and costumes designed for all walks of life. Along with shelling out $3.2 billion on outfits meant for kids and adults, consumers will also spend $490 million on costumes for their pets. According to a recent survey, 51 percent of dog owners plan to dress up their pups for the holiday, spending an average of about $20. 

Retail experts say the popularity Continue reading

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October 22, 2019

The last couple of years have not been kind to brick-and-mortar retailers: since 2017 more than 50 companies have gone bankrupt and 21,000 locations have closed across the country. Instead of heading out to stores, many modern consumers now depend on Amazon for their shopping needs. Along with providing convenience, the e-commerce giant also offers everyday low prices as well as major sales events like Prime Day. In response, many traditional retailers have started offering deep discounts in an effort Continue reading

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