January 19, 2021

The food service industry has been hit especially hard during the pandemic as restaurants and bars try to stay afloat with fewer customers. But while the struggles of the nation’s eateries have received a lot of attention, catering companies have suffered just as much behind the scenes. With restrictions in place that keep gatherings small, not many people need caterers to provide food for their weddings or office parties. As a result, catering companies across the country are laying off Continue reading

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January 5, 2021

More than one third of American households have a smart speaker like the Amazon Echo or Google Nest that can be activated by thousands of different voice commands. But in order to hear what we say, these devices also need to listen. This video looks at what big tech companies do with recorded smart speaker commands and how customers can opt out of sharing their data. 

Questions:

  1. Why does Amazon collect recordings of voice commands made by customers to Continue reading
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December 10, 2020

The e-commerce site Etsy was founded in 2005 as a place where crafty, independent creators could sell their wares online to consumers. In 2015 the company went public and greatly expanded its product offerings to include items from larger brands. The following years saw Etsy struggle with its brand identity as it cycled through different leadership and organizational structures. Then came 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused countless businesses to struggle or outright close in the last few Continue reading

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December 3, 2020

Black Friday began years ago as a one-day event where retailers across the country slashed prices to attract holiday shoppers into stores. Then the deals began to stretch into the weekend, then into Thanksgiving itself, and finally this year holiday sales spilled online into more than a weeklong extravaganza. With many retailers either remaining closed for indoor customers or open at limited capacity, experts expect that e-commerce will drive sales for many companies this holiday season.

Although foot traffic at Continue reading

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November 19, 2020

Sony’s PlayStation 5 launched earlier this month and is expected to be one of the blockbuster products of the holiday season. This video looks at the evolution of the console throughout the years and how it became a central focus of Sony’s business.

Questions:

  1. How did the PlayStation help Sony transition from a consumer electronics manufacturer into a gaming company?
  2. Why did Sony decide to focus closely on the gamer market for future generations of the PlayStation, and how did they accomplish this task?
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November 17, 2020

Since the start of the pandemic, takeout and delivery orders have taken on outsized importance at restaurants that have been unable to open to full capacity. As a result, some companies are investing in “ghost kitchens” that focus solely on pickup and delivery orders. For instance, last week Chipotle opened its first Digital Kitchen in New York, a location with no dining room that is largely closed off to walk-in customers.

“The Digital Kitchen incorporates innovative features that will complement Continue reading

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November 12, 2020

Since the 1990s, on November 11th Chinese retailers led by the e-commerce giant Alibaba have celebrated Singles Day with an abundance of discounts and deals. Initially started as a sort of anti-Valentine’s Day and celebration of singlehood, over the years Singles Day has grown into one of the globe’s biggest sales events. In fact, Alibaba said that consumers purchased more than $75 billion worth of products on its site during yesterday’s festivities. 

This massive haul represents a 26 percent Continue reading

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November 10, 2020

When lockdowns started to be put in place in March and April, parents across the country took to social media to find out which products would keep their kids entertained at home for extended periods of time. The overwhelming favorite among Facebook groups and blogs soon became the Nugget couch, a microsuede fabric couch that is specifically designed for kids to go crazy on. Although it certainly can be used as regular furniture, the Nugget is mainly designed for fort-building, Continue reading

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November 5, 2020

Over the last few years, fast food chains like McDonald’s and Taco Bell have invested heavily in breakfast menu items in order to drive up morning sales. This strategy worked for a while as breakfast sales continually increased from previous years and chains poured millions of dollars into marketing the so-called “most important meal of the day.” But like so many other previously successful ventures, the coronavirus pandemic has taken a major toll on the breakfast business.

Morning drive-thru traffic Continue reading

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October 29, 2020

Jingles were once a regular feature of television and radio advertising, but these catchy tunes are no longer as popular with admakers as they used to be. This video looks at the history of jingles in commercials and why they have slowly disappeared in the age of digital advertising. 

Questions:

  1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of using jingles in modern advertising? 
  2. How did the use of music in commercials evolve over the course of the 20th century?
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