September 26, 2014

 

Although summer is fading, ice cream season remains in full swing for millions of sweet-toothed Americans. Last year consumers in the U.S. bought $13.7 billion worth of the dessert, an enormous number that doesn’t even include restaurant sales. And according to a recent study, 40 percent of Americans will eat ice cream in any given two-week period. Nevertheless, on the whole people consume a lot less of the cold stuff than they did 25 years ago. Back in 1989 Continue reading

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September 14, 2014

Last year the retail chain Staples signed a contract to become the State of New York’s official office-supplies vendor, which looked like quite a coup at the time. After all, the agreement put Staples in direct contact with city halls, schools, police departments and charities across the state. In fact, the company was so desperate to tap this lucrative market that it pledged to sell a number of products for just a penny apiece. While this bold promise helped Staples Continue reading

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September 10, 2014

Walmart became the largest retail chain in the U.S. by offering customers the same low prices every day. As it expanded globally, however, the company found out that not every culture responds to this pricing strategy. For instance, Walmart has had a hard time winning over Brazilian consumers despite opening 550 stores in nearly 200 cities. That’s because most people in the large South American nation are happy to hunt for the best deals at a variety of stores rather Continue reading

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August 19, 2014

 

When Howard Schultz first joined Starbucks as marketing director in 1982, the small Seattle company made most of its money selling coffee-making equipment. Once Schultz landed the CEO position, however, matters changed drastically. Looking to bring the European café experience to American shores, Schultz transformed the regional chain into an international behemoth within two decades.

Starbucks changed again when Schultz stepped down as CEO in 2000. After a rapid expansion saw the company grow to more than 15,000 stores Continue reading

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August 14, 2014

 

With preseason football already under way, it won’t be long now until the NFL season officially kicks into full gear. And although the intensity of the gridiron will undoubtedly remain the same, some fans might notice big changes around their local stadiums. That’s because after years of outcry to green up the game, a number of NFL teams have revamped their arenas with a variety of energy-saving and cost-cutting measures.

In San Francisco’s Levi’s Stadium, for instance, an 18,000-square-foot Continue reading

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June 25, 2014

As recently as the early 2000s, the stereotypical image of the corporate careerist typically included a flashy convertible jetting down the highway with a set of expensive golf clubs stashed in the trunk. Nowadays, though, these once weighty symbols of wealth and status have plummeted in popularity. Instead of a cherry red Corvette, modern executives and ladder climbers would prefer to cruise to their next meeting in a big SUV. And thanks to smartphones, the golf links aren’t the same Continue reading

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diningIn the world of fine dining, the food may be the focus, but the customer is king. That’s certainly the case at New York’s exclusive Eleven Madison Park, where professional servers iron table linens and polish silver before diners arrive. Like any three Michelin-star establishment, they want to ensure that guests will be as comfortable as possible even before they sit down to eat. While this includes primping that is common at other elite eateries, the maître d’ at Continue reading

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Advancements in technology have allowed entrepreneurs to experiment with radical new ideas that wouldn’t have been possible even a few years ago. However, often these innovations end up disrupting established businesses that have operated the same way for years. The latest example of this phenomenon can be seen with the new wave of “ridesharing” companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. Although these startups have made a splash with young, tech-enabled consumers, taxi companies and local governments don’t share the same Continue reading

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Over the last few years, brick and mortar retailers have come up with some ingenious ways to gather data about the customers who walk into their stores. We’ve taken a look at some of them in past posts on this blog, including one story about “smart” mannequins that observe consumer patterns using cameras in the dummies’ eyes. Although that may skew a bit on the creepy side, it’s important to keep in mind that physical retailers are merely trying to Continue reading

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April 30, 2014

In our increasingly connected world, people are constantly generating new data about themselves. While social networks collect a record of one’s feelings, sensors that measure sleep patterns and Wi-Fi-enabled scales can keep track of vital statistics. To tech experts, all this seemingly vain information may actually lead to the next great innovation: predictive computing. Soon enough our gadgets will know us so well that they won’t just store our to-do lists, they might actually write the lists themselves.

Many smartphone Continue reading

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