The ‘Perfect’ Ingredient Tells A Story

The Washington Post: “Artisanal beauty products are often built around at least one obscure ingredient, the procurement of which (it’s implied) is really difficult. There’s no distance these brands won’t travel, whether for a body scrub with ‘white sand particles from the shores of Bora Bora,’ or a ‘gel treatment serum’ made from ‘the stem cells of Australian kakadu plums.’ They might need to go back in time to craft skin products made with ‘donkey milk . . . known as a beauty elixir since the ancient ages.’ There’s an emphasis on the rare find from nature, almost but not quite lost to mankind … the fruit from a tree previously known only to peoples of the Amazon.”

“That rare ingredient must be gathered with care, ideally by local villagers, processed in a lab under the most stringent standards, and then placed into a product whose label declares its transparency of its process, its freedom from potentially dangerous chemicals, its fair trade and cruelty-free status, its philanthropic efforts, and the all-around goodness of its intentions.”

“The perfect ingredient doesn’t just moisturize or smell good or look pretty on a label; the perfect ingredient tells a story we all want to hear.”

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Tiffany Bobbles Its Baubles

“Analysts say Tiffany is making one mistake: selling the same old products to consumers who demand constant newness and fresh offerings,” Business Insider reports. “Young consumers have been conditioned to the speed and price of fast fashion. In addition to Pandora, look no further than BaubleBar, the rapidly growing fast-fashion-esque jewelry startup … Tiffany & Co. could be resting ‘on its laurels’ while still raising prices — something that ultimately doesn’t bode well for the company.”

“Tiffany & Co. has tried to rectify this problem with newer, more fashion-driven collections … but the brand then faces another problem: Even older customers aren’t buying it.. consumers are instead spending money on ‘bigger-ticket items’ like houses and cars.”

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Loyalty Card: Will Apple Pay, Pay?

Quartz: “Retailers can tie their own loyalty programs into Apple Pay, so that people using the system can rack up points just as they would if paying by cash or a physical credit card. But as of yet, there’s nothing that allows consumers to earn more or different rewards for using Apple Pay specifically.”

“That could change, though, based on a recent job posting for a product manager sought by Apple Pay to ‘develop loyalty products and launch projects with merchants for those products’ … The job post confirms what many industry experts in the payments space have been saying for years: Apple needs to get into the rewards game to make its mobile wallet more appealing to consumers … Apple declined to comment.”

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‘Millennials’ Are People Too

Farhad Manjoo in The New York Times: “If your management or marketing theories involve collapsing all millennials into a catchall anthropological category — as if you’re dealing with space aliens or some newly discovered aboriginal tribe that’s suddenly invaded modernity — you’re doing it wrong.”

“Sure, the demographic group exists as an amorphous bloc. But you are as likely to come upon an archetypal millennial as you are to run into Joe Sixpack or be invited to a barbecue at the median American household. It’s hard to believe this even needs to be said, yet here we are: Macroscale demographic trends rarely govern most individuals’ life and work decisions. For most practical purposes — hiring and managing, selling to, creating products for — your company may be better off recognizing more discrete and meaningful characteristics in workers and customers than simply the year of their birth.”

“According to Laszlo Bock, who runs human resources at Google, pigeonholing workers into categories is nothing new, and it’s rarely helpful in running a workplace … Google’s human resources department, which the company calls ‘people operations,’ is famous for collecting and analyzing data about its work force to empirically back up its management techniques. Google’s workers range from recent college grads to people in their 80s. And as far as Mr. Bock has been able to tell, millennials, as a broad category, simply aren’t very different from everyone else.”

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The 6-Day Workweek: A Productivity Builder?

The New York Times: “At Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska University Hospital … the orthopedics unit switched 89 nurses and doctors to a six-hour day. It hired 15 new staff members to make up for the lost time and extend operating room hours. At 1 million kroner (about $123,000) a month, the experiment was expensive … But since then, almost no one calls in sick, and nurses and doctors have been more efficient.”

“The unit is performing 20 percent more operations, generating additional business from treatments like hip replacements that would have gone to other hospitals. Surgery waiting times were cut to weeks from months, allowing patients to return to work faster and reducing sick leave elsewhere in the economy.”

Anders Hyltander, the hospital’s executive director, comments: “For years, we’ve been told that an eight-hour workday is optimal. But I think we should let ourselves challenge that view and say, ‘Yes that’s the way it is now, but if you want to increase productivity, be open to new ideas.’”

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Organic Coup: The Costco of Chicken Sandwiches

Business Insider: “The Organic Coup, which is the first USDA-certified organic fast-food chain in the US, just raised $7 million in an initial round of financing led by Costco founder and former CEO Jim Sinegal … The chain, which specializes in fried-chicken sandwiches and chocolate-drizzled caramel popcorn, has two restaurants — one in San Francisco and another in Pleasanton, California.”

One of the restaurant’s co-founders is Erica Welton, a “food buyer for Costco for 14 years before leaving to launch Organic Coup with Dennis Hoover, a 33-year Costco veteran … Welton and Hoover don’t have any prior restaurant experience” but “are modeling the new chain off of Costco in many ways.”

“Organic Coup is paying starting wages of $16 an hour in San Francisco and $14 an hour in Pleasanton. Fast-food workers in the US make $7.98 an hour on average, according to PayScale. The restaurant’s specialty is its spicy fried chicken made from organic, air-chilled chicken breasts fried in coconut oil … The menu is pretty simple. Customers can get the fried chicken with a range of sauces on a bun, in a multigrain wrap, or in a bowl with shredded vegetables … The chain will be adding tator tots to the menu as well.”

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Food & Service: How CFA Beats KFC

Business Insider: “Chick-fil-A restaurants sell three times as much as KFC locations — and it’s made the chicken chain No. 1 in the industry … The reason for Chick-fil-A’s dominance is a mix of excellent food and superior customer service, according to many analysts. The chain consistently ranks first in restaurant customer-service surveys, with customers raving about the restaurants’ cleanliness, quick, convenient service, and hardworking employees.”

“Chick-fil-A’s success on a restaurant-by-restaurant basis can be traced in part to the chain’s peculiar business model. The company accepts just 0.4% of franchisees, one of the most selective chains in the industry … franchisees are encouraged to become ‘entrenched’ in their communities, including involvement in local churches … the company attributes its success to investing in training employees. With only one location for each franchisee and a strongly cultivated company culture, that training may come more easily than at chains like KFC.”

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Elvis Has Left The Cabin

The New York Times: Flight attendants “used to think of themselves … as hosts and hostesses of an exclusive party. But in today’s age of consolidation, when even the uniforms have lost their élan, much of that individual charm has worn off. Still, some flight attendants are not going gently. They are still doing what they can to keep passengers entertained or informed beyond pushing a button to play the video recordings of the in-flight safety videos.”

Consider Jack Sullivan, a Southwest Airways flight attendant who impersonates Elvis, complete with the sunglasses and scarves. Or the Spirit Airlines flight attendant who has taken to singing safety instructions to the tune of … Leaving on a Jet Plane. But few can match the worldwide appeal of Marty Cobb, a 10-year Southwest Airlines flight attendant, after a video of her comedic spinoff of the mundane safety directions spread quickly online in 2014.”

“Not all airlines are enamored of such displays of personality. Delta and American … said in statements that the airline appreciated it when flight attendants humanized their interactions, but that flight attendants were reminded that less was more when it came to in-flight announcements.” However: “A spokeswoman for Southwest also said that the company considered its crew to be its in-flight entertainment and that it hired flight attendants primarily because of their attitude.”

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Study: LEGO ‘Guns’ For Greater Violence

Quartz: “The number of toy weapons such as miniature guns, knives, and harpoons featured in sets of tiny plastic LEGO building blocks has increased by 30% from 1978 to 2014, according to a study published last week in PLOS ONE by researchers at New Zealand’s University of Canterbury. The increase was primarily driven by higher numbers of weapons offered in film-themed packs, most recently in 2012 with Lord of the Rings LEGO sets.”

“The authors say this reflects a growing trend among children’s toymakers, and hypothesize that toy manufacturers add more depictions of violence to their products in order to stay relevant alongside increasingly violent movies and video games.”

“In an unrelated blog post, LEGO has argued that “conflict play” allows kids to use toys to creatively act out variations of their own disagreements, in a way that helps develop their own conflict-resolution skills.”

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