Quote of the Day: Dick Johnson

“The facts are that most of the basketball shoes that we sell never see a basketball court. Most of the running shoes that we sell never see the roads or the trail or the track. They just look really good, and they’re part of the sneaker culture that we really support.” – Dick Johnson, CEO of Foot Locker, reporting that second-quarter sales at existing Foot Locker stores rose 4.7%, via The Wall Street Journal.

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Under Armour Rocks Around Its Clock

The Street: “Under Armour (UA) has bet big on connected fitness by acquiring an array of app makers and unveiling a suite of new hardware devices, and it wants visitors to its newest retail store (at World Trade Center, NYC) to be aware of that huge wager … the showstopper was a gigantic digital clock hanging from the wall that tracks people signing up to the company’s fitness apps such as MapMyFitness in real-time. At the time of our visit Tuesday afternoon, the clock read that Under Armour had over 179 million users to its connected fitness apps, up from about 175 million exiting the second quarter.”

“Earlier this year, Under Armour debuted its ‘Healthbox’, which is box that contains a fitness tracker called the UA Band, a Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled scale called the UA Scale and the UA Heart Rate, which is a strap that fits around your chest to measure heart rate. Healthbox is one of the first sections the consumer sees when walking into the World Trade Center location. The connected fitness segment represents about 2.1% of Under Armour’s sales. Sales so far this year for the business have surged 91% to $42 million.”

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Hershey Hugs & Kisses Its Hometown

The Wall Street Journal: “From the roller coasters at Hershey Park to the butterfly conservatory at Hershey Gardens, Hershey, Pa., was literally built on the generosity of its founder, the iconic chocolatier Milton S. Hershey. No wonder, then, that Hershey residents fret the tap might run dry if Hershey Co. is sold or merges with a suitor.”

“Hershey is a holdout from a bygone American era, when some 2,000 towns sprang up to serve one particular coal mine, textile factory or slaughterhouse. Many have faded as factories moved overseas and technological advancements led to job cuts … The same fate hasn’t befallen Hershey, where Kisses-shaped lamps burn bright above the downtown intersection of Chocolate and Cocoa Avenues.”

“Hershey’s resilience is due largely to the unusual strength of Hershey Trust … Milton Hershey founded the trust over a century ago, mainly to look after the Milton Hershey School for some 2,000 underprivileged children. It still does that, but today the trust also owns a resort and spa, an amusement park and a real-estate company in town.”

“Brad Reese, the grandson of the creator of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, which Hershey bought in 1963, spent his early years in what he calls “this very insular town.” He swam in the pool at the Hershey-built community center, and drank milk from the Hershey-owned dairy. ‘It’s a honey pot,’ said Mr. Reese, ‘the hand that feeds’.”

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The ‘Give’ Registry Embraces Survivors

Slate: “The Give Registry is a brilliant new gift registry and ad campaign from Australian department store chain Myer and agency Clemenger BBDO Melbourne that uses the model of a wedding gift registry to provide linens, cookware, dishes, and other household basics to domestic violence survivors.”

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Audi To Offer Stoplight Insight

The Washington Post: “Audi will debut software in select 2017 models that communicates with municipal traffic light systems to predict when lights will go from red to green. Some cities already monitor traffic patterns, and Audi and its supplier, Traffic Technology Services, will harvest that data and use it to tell drivers how long they’ll be sitting there.”

“The software will appear in select 2017 Audi Q7, A4 and A4 all-road models with Audi connect, a data subscription service that comes free on all new Audis. Audi expects to have the system running in at least five major metropolitan cities by the end of the year. Those cities will be announced within the next month, a company spokesman said.”

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Combrr: Like Uber for Beach Eats

The New York Times: “It’s called Combrr, and it will soon allow people to buy items from concession stands from their towels, avoiding lines that lately stretch clear across the (Rockaway Beach) boardwalk.”

“Combrr works a lot like Uber: Customers drop a pin at their location. Vendors can accept or decline an order, and customers can track its progress from the app. There’s a $5 delivery fee, and the entire transaction, including the tip, is done digitally, bypassing the city’s requirement for a permit to sell items on the beach. But in addition to geolocation technology, Combrr relies on customers’ selfies and instructions. A sample note: ‘We’re wearing pink bikinis sitting under a polka-dot umbrella on 99th’.”

“The Rockaway Beach concessions, which appeared in their present artisanal incarnation in 2011, have been credited with turning the beaches into culinary hubs. So far, the seaside food scene has remained charmingly low-tech — operating out of sandy-floored bunkers and brightly painted shanties with surfboard racks … Combrr, which is free, will be available not long before the concessions close, a week after Labor Day.”

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Parity Airlines: Copycats in the Sky

The Wall Street Journal: “The big three U.S. airlines—American, Delta and United—match each other more closely than ever … They’re all intent on not letting one rival gain a cost or product advantage.”

“When United announced it would begin flying lie-flat beds on cross-country routes such as New York-Los Angeles, Delta and American also switched to lie-flat beds in premium cabins. When Delta was first with luxury-car rides across the tarmac for top customers at major hub airports, the other two found luxury cars, too. Fees for good seats? Check. Start charging higher ticket-change fees? All three went up to $200 on domestic trips.”

“Airlines say the similarities just mean they are all coming to the same conclusions about what customers are willing to pay for and what they aren’t.”

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Jet vs. Jetsons: Amazon Bets on Drones

Farhad Manjoo: “If Amazon’s drone program succeeds (and Amazon says it is well on track), it could fundamentally alter the company’s cost structure. A decade from now, drones would reduce the unit cost of each Amazon delivery by about half, analysts at Deutsche Bank projected in a recent research report. If that happens, the economic threat to competitors would be punishing — ‘retail stores would cease to exist,’ Deutsche’s analysts suggested, and we would live in a world more like that of ‘The Jetsons’ than our own.”

“Amazon … has built many different kinds of prototypes for different delivery circumstances … for instance, drones could deliver packages to smart lockers positioned on rooftops … Amazon’s patent filings hint at even more fanciful possibilities — drones could ferry packages between tiny depots housed on light poles, for example.”

“Amazon has filed patents that envision using trucks as mobile shipping warehouses … a drone might fly from the truck to a customer’s house, delivering the item in minutes … according to Amazon, the earliest incarnation of drone deliveries will happen … within five years, somewhere in the world.”

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Adidas ‘Speedfactory’ Customizes Faster

Quartz: “Adidas is bringing some new robotic manufacturing to the US. The German sneaker and apparel company … plans to have a robot-staffed ‘Speedfactory’ up and fully functional in the Atlanta, Georgia, area by the end of 2017. The aim is to bring Adidas products to US customers as quickly as possible, and Adidas says the factory will also allow it ‘unprecedented’ customization opportunities beyond what it currently offers.”

“Adidas, which debuted its first Speedfactory in Germany last year, believes decentralizing production and building factories closer to its major consumer markets will let it react more quickly to demand … Adidas’s goal for its US Speedfactory is to produce 50,000 pairs of sneakers, primarily running footwear, in the back half of 2017, but in the mid-term it aims to manufacture 500,000 pairs of shoes for running and other activities.”

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