January 17, 2020

2019 was the year that the so-called “streaming wars” got serious. Disney+ and Apple TV+ launched in an effort to compete against Netflix while established broadcasters like NBC and HBO announced that their streaming services would go live in mid-2020. As the streaming marketplace grew increasingly crowded, industry insiders worried that media companies were offering too much content to consumers. According to research by the cable network FX, these fears could prove to be true: last year a total of Continue reading

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January 14, 2020

Although milk was a staple of the American diet throughout the 20th century, today’s consumers don’t drink nearly as much of it as they did in the past. In 2018 Americans each drank an average of 146 pounds of fluid milk, a category that includes everything from skim milk to heavy cream. While that’s still quite a lot of dairy, it also represents a 26 percent decrease in consumption since 2000. Along with this declining demand, milk companies have also Continue reading

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January 7, 2020

The holiday season is the most important time of the year by far for the nation’s retailers, with many earning as much as 40 percent of their annual sales during that period. Fortunately for them, 2019’s holiday sales increased by 3.4 percent compared to the previous year. Retailers are especially relieved since Thanksgiving arrived six days later than it did in 2018, which took away crucial time that companies could have used to drive sales. 

To make up for Continue reading

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December 17, 2019

During December, the Hallmark Channel’s schedule is chock full of Christmas movies to keep the holiday spirit strong throughout the month. But last week the usually jolly TV network behaved more like Ebenezer Scrooge in the eyes of many fans and users on social media. The controversy began when Hallmark received a complaint from an advocacy group whose stated mission is to “fight against indecency.” The organization complained about four ads that featured same-sex couples from a wedding planning company Continue reading

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December 12, 2019

Although only 6 percent of the U.S. identifies as vegan, animal-free foods like meatless burgers and veggie-based snacks have exploded in popularity recently. This video looks at why the animal alternative market could grow into a $140 billion industry as consumers include more vegan foods in their diets. 

Questions:

  1. Why are more American consumers starting to supplement their regular diets with vegan foods?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of synthetic meat like the Impossible Burger?
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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 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 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 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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