Friday, December 1, 2017

Barnes & Noble at the mercy of digital demons?

By: Amal Abdallah

So we all know that our beloved Barnes & Noble has been struggling for quite some time. Ever since the dawn of the Kindle, the nook, the iPad, bookstores just haven't been able to shake it off. One by one, they have closed their doors and succumbed to the e-readers. Because why actually buy a book and fill up your bookshelves when you can store them in one small device?

The last man standing has suffered another dump in sales, with online retailers gnawing away. 
Shares fell more than 10%, with same-store sales (a key industry metric) falling 6.3% in the second quarter of the fiscal year which ended October 28.

Even total net sales we down 7.9% YoY to $791.1M, and net losses grew to $30.1M compared to $20.4M just a year prior. This is proof that the online booksellers (ahem ahem, Amazon) and the like have taken over. Although B&N tried to get in the game with Nook, it never really took off with consumers in that e-reader world, so B&N suffered losses (big losses). 

However, in recent years, B&N has tried to expand its product mix by offering unique gifts & gadgets to customers, along with books and stationery, music, etc. For the most part, the results haven't been too overwhelming. 

In the glory days of Barnes & Noble, a share was worth almost $32 a pop--this week, the stock closed at $7.80, valuing it at just $566.5M.

Is the age of the paperback, hardcover book a thing of the past? Are we to forever hold a tablet in our hand, never again to smell the scent of a freshly cracked book? As someone who is still buying paperbacks, yet has an iPad, I find this reality to be a bit depressing. There's something about a new book that a new "book" on my iPad just doesn't quite do for me.

Has anyone been in a bookstore recently?  

Cheescake Factory blaming Harvey, Irma for sloppy sales?

By: Amal Abdallah

This is a new one-- The Cheesecake Factory is blaming bad weather and natural disaster on its lower sales the third quarter. In particular, its sales dropped from $560m to $555.4m year-over-year; but I think there is more to it than just that--what is the real problem?

Here's a thought: there is so much competition in the restaurant/hospitality/food service industry. The Cheesecake Factory is a veteran and the problem is that the new, modern "hip" eateries are hitting them right where it counts.  Aside from that, there is the smaller [bigger] problem of the make-at-home meal kits that are taking over the country by storm; HelloFresh, Blue Apron, and Plated, just to name a few. The fact is that people (just enough people, that is) are not going out to eat anymore. They are staying home and cooking meals that might have been triple the price at a restaurant. They are opting for the experiences with their families and learning how to cook over the drive, the wait, and the risk of not having a good experience. 

Another thing that may play a factor in this unfortunate reality is this: although there is a very wide variety of items on the menu, perhaps it's the way it is prepared or how people feel after eating it that has deterred them from coming back for me. Personally, whenever I eat at Cheesecake Factory, I walk out feeling bloated, like I ate a horse, and like I need a nap STAT. Maybe the whole problem is that CF is just old news and needs to perk up their menu, their could be anything. 

Here's another idea--I, along with a lot of young professionals have picked up this handy app we like to call Uber Eats. Which basically means that we don't ever have to set foot in a restaurant if we don't feel like it. I can eat CF, Olive Garden, PF Changs, whatever, from the comfort of my own home. There are a lot of advantages to doing this and having this convenience. Maybe it's just the era that we are in, and CF isn't keeping up with the Joneses. 

In this day and age, while there are still a lot of people who go out to dinner and sit down to eat, there are just as many people who are opting to stay at home. Personally, I think that is why CF sales are down.  

Is anyone else over Cheesecake Factory? I'm sorry, but I prefer my cheesecake original. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Committed to Christmas

Committed to Christmas
Image result for christmas early meme

Once again the Holidays have arrived and binge worthy Hallmark Christmas movies have become available for the next two months. The Hallmark channel like many other industries such as retailing and radio, takes an all-out approach to the holiday season. The networks seasonal strategy has helped drive overall growth, ratings among adult viewers under 50,  grew by 31% last year. The network's total commitment to Christmas requires year long production for this year alone, 33 new and original movies should debut on two of Hallmarks channel. Since 2008 the Crown Media Family Network has produced a total of 136 Christmas films. With all the excitement centered around Christmas producers face the challenge of coming up with new story lines  involving the same holiday. Hallmark has already started planning for next year's Christmas lineup while completing other seasonal block films for other major holidays such as valentine's day. Hallmark has become incredibly successful in marketing Christmas on the network and continuing to give their target audience, mostly women ranging from ages 25 to 54 the holiday-feel good movies they want to watch during the holiday season. With the Christmas season just around the corner Hallmark and retailers alike will bombard us with marketing campaigns related to the holiday season. I myself can admit to getting sucked into the holiday craze and look forward to binge watching Christmas movies and advertisements aimed at convincing me to buy things i don't really need. 

By: Tyffany Martinez

Original Article By: John Jurgensen WSJ

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Hiring Rebounded in October, Unemployment Rate Fell to 4.1%

Available online at

Article written by: Harriet Torry and David Harrison

Some good news are embedded in this article and is the drop in the US unemployment rate. After a season of multiple hurricanes including Harvey here in Texas and Maria In Florida and Puerto Rico, it seems that the jobs are increasing and the US economy is rebouncing after the different natural disasters.

Although this is positive news, the article states that is also poses some challenges, such as the risk of financial markets to overheat due to labor becoming more scarce, stocks to start rising to historical high and stimulative tax cuts potentially kicking in the next few months. The Federal reserve is widely expected to raise short-term interest rate in December.

In this article it is also mentioned how the labor department reported that the unemployment rate fell 0.1 percentage point to 4.1% in october, its lowest level since December of 2000. Worker wages however seem to be declining one cent over the one reported last month.

People interviewed as part of the article confirm that labor demand is robust and that the challenge now is to really find the people with the qualifications for these jobs.

With multiple entities monitoring the behavior of unemployment rate, and many companies offering more jobs but having issues to find the right candidate, what is the role then of marketers for placement of the right personnel? How can international marketing assist in this journey ?

Saturday, November 4, 2017

New style of Disney

Future of Disney’s Struggling TV Business Rests on Its Streaming Plans

Disney is everyone's dream when you are a child. Disney is very amazing since it becomes the top one of culture and media industry.
However, the investors are considering the Disney's future whether and how it will turn around its struggling television business.
Robert, the chief executive made the decision of launching launch an entertainment streaming service. This move is necessary because the Disney's stock has dropped 17% last year.
Disney is also doing other efforts to let the "entertainment world" more valuable and make the kingdom more attractive for investors.

"Future of Disney’s Struggling TV Business Rests on Its Streaming Plans"   


Beyond Thanksgiving: The Humble Cranberry Takes Root in China
Jennifer Levitz
Nov. 4, 2017 7:00 a.m. ET


Although cranberries have been an important part of American food culture, specially during Thanksgiving time, in the last 5 years Cranberry consumption in China has increased from almost non-existent to being the fastest-growing Cranberry export market for the U.S.
According to the article there are many appeals behind the increase cranberry consumption in China. The fruit’s red color has a significant meaning for the Chinese; it connotes good fortune. Furthermore, cranberries are perceived as healthy and unique.

Cranberry growers in the U.S. are happy with this Chinese Cranberry craze. In recent years, excess in supply had left them looking for new markets to expand and the growth of the Chinese market turned out to be a great solution. Although European countries (specially the Netherlands) are still the number one importer of cranberries, the growth of the Chinese market is demonstrating that this soon could change. The 2016 exports amounted to $314 million; which is a 49% increase from 2012. 2016 turned out to be the largest cranberry crop in history and 2017 is looking to beat that record.

All in all, the cranberry market growth experienced an interesting twist. A berry that is so typical of American eating habits has turned out to be a great success in China. Cranberries are quickly becoming a staple.

Tesla’s Model 3 Production is Giving Some Headaches to CEO Elon Musk

A Tesla Model 3 rolls out of the assembly line in Fremont, Calif., in July. The auto maker reported results Wednesday.
A Tesla Model 3 rolls out of the assembly line in Fremont,
Calif., in July. The automaker reported results Wednesday.
     Tesla aimed to make 5,000 Model 3 sedans per week by the end of this year but long delays in the production line will not allow reaching the target until the late first quarter of 2018. The first delay reason is the ramping up of the Model 3, which began production in July. The second reason is the delay of the battery-pack assembly at its factory near Reno, Nevada. Therefore, missed the third-quarter production target by making just 260 Model 3s. The automaker attributed the miss to an unspecified production bottleneck. Moreover, Tesla reported its worst financial quarter ever, recording a loss of $619 million attributed to common shareholders in the three months that ended on Sept. 30, compared with a rare profit of $22 million a year ago.

     However, expectations for the Model 3, a mid-priced sedan that Tesla hopes will move the company more into the mainstream, which starts at a price of $35,000, helped pushing Tesla’s shares up more than 50%. Tesla has suggested it needs a minimum of $1 billion each quarter for working capital. The company has about $1.4 billion in debt due by the end of 2018 and Mr. Musk has talked about plans for new factories in Europe and China.

     Between cash on hand, future cash flows and available lines of credit, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk believes that the company is well capitalized to accommodate the revised ramp of Model 3 production to 5,000 per week.

International Wall Street Journal Insights
“Tesla Posts Loss, Boosting Pressure to Speed Output of Model 3”
Published by: Tim Higgins on November 1, 2017

Are you looking for a Gas station or a Charging station?

   Image result for electric vehicles

When you drive around what you see the most are gas stations, in most parts of the world. Well, if you are a Europe fan that view is going to change by 2020. The German-American joint venture, Ionity, is establishing 400 fast-charging station across the continent.

The company formed by BWM, Daimler, Volkswagen and Ford will offer stations with 350 kw capacity. These stations will be become the faster in the world surpassing Tesla and being able to charge your car up to an 80 percent in 15 minutes.

This new innovation is so big that is impacting not only the consumers but also Oil & Gas companies which are starting to invest in this market.

Now that the world is getting more environmental conscious, it a good excuse to upgrade you car and become green. Go EV!

November 2, 2014
Financial Times by Patrick McGee 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Office Politics

 How many times have you walked into the workplace and got infuriated by someone being too outspoken about their political beliefs? It’s that unspoken rule or common courtesy that you should walk into your job with a level of comfort and feel as if you won’t be judged by your political beliefs and you won’t have to hear someone else’s clashing beliefs. In a recent article, it was noted that President Xi Jinping, President of the PRC and General Secretary of the Communist Party, has made it one of his top priorities to, “restore the party as a force in people’s lives and recapture its revolutionary sense of mission” (Wong and Dou). This sort of political activism has taken over the workplace in different companies including Western companies that are doing business in China. Some recent activities within the workplace include having hammer and sickle emblems decorated around the office and party meetings occurring during the day. It becomes a true challenge when your company and culture don’t advocate this type of politics and your goal for making money is to do business with China, one of the world’s largest economies. Western companies don’t want to lose their Chinese account, but they also don’t want to have politics become affiliated with their businesses. Global managers deal with different challenges in order to be successful in a foreign country, but to what extent do they need to bite the bullet in order to be profitable? We learn in Global Marketing the different challenges managers face, but it is a challenge within itself to embrace the politics of the host country in order to increase profit margins.

Companies! HIRE Teams, not Individuals!

Image result for team works gif

As we are all familiar with the traditional way of hiring, a position is open, managers will meet applicants one after another, and proceed afterword. However, what if things didn't go this way? What if the company decided to hire a group instead? Interestingly, a one company in Silicon Valley follows this method, allowing a group of people to apply for jobs together, and they are either all hired or none!

Number of reasons would tell why this is a smart move. First of all, based on a large body of research, jobs interviews don't foresee applicant's future performance, managers tend to prefer those who look like them, think like them, and share the same cultural background. on the other hand, when hiring a team, such individual won't appear as a risk to the organization, they know each other and will perform well as they already have.

Second, it is easier and cheaper to have an already established teams, who share the same team's culture and norms, than individuals ending up working together as a "team". There is a considerable cost of bad chemistry, based on an article published in the journal Organizational Dynamics, it was found that 78% of people declined their commitment to the organization, while 48% of people intentionally decreased their work effort. hiring a group might reduce these harmful effects, they learn to handle differences and resolve conflicts when arise.

Organizations can assign number of challenges to today's workplaces, creating a cohort effect, promoting healthy competition between teammates while pushing one another to grow and develop.

From my personal perspective, there are numerous points to hire a team at once, these points do not necessarily work for every firm. It requires leaders to rethink their processes from top to bottom, and to choose their team wisely and precisely if they want to represent their business in the best way possible.

International WSJ Insights
"Why Companies Should Hire Teams, Not Individuals"