tech in the spotlight
Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 28, 2013 03:22 PM
It’s been more than two years since IBM’s Watson made its hit TV debut on Jeopardy! And now, Watson is the latest “cognitive, expert personal shopper” developed by an early stage partner in the IBM Watson Developers Cloud, digital shopping company Fluid.
Their Watson-powered app—the Fluid Expert Personal Shopper—marries Watson’s transformational cognitive computing that provides dialogue-driven assistance with product recommendations and content, letting consumers make queries using Watson’s natural language processing (NLP).
But, “Watson’s natural language capabilities are not what make it special,” Brooke Aguilar, VP Global Business Development at Fluid told brandchannel. “The big differentiator is that Watson is a learning machine and one that quickly learns from and adapts with each interaction. In the context of digital shopping this presents a tremendous opportunity for Fluid to give consumers highly engaging and rich shopping experiences that are personalized and become more so with continued use.”Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 26, 2013 06:23 PM
While most retailers would like consumers to heat up their credit cards this weekend, outdoor gear and apparel retailer Patagonia is going seriously against the grain and asking consumers to put away their wallets. After all, how much stuff do we need?
In line with the company's sustainable ethos, the company has released a short film, “Worn Wear,” that celebrates the gear we all already have and the stories that our clothing can tell. The retailer's sales have gone up 40 percent since it ran the campaign's first installment in 2011, featuring a full-page ad in the New York Times that showed a picture of a Patagonia coat with the words “Don’t Buy This Coat."Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 20, 2013 11:33 AM
The B Corp, or “For Benefit” corporation, is redefining fiduciary responsibility, governance, ownership and stakeholder relationships in light of an equal increase in stewardship and sustainability obligations by businesses, government and consumers.
“It's not just retailers that take notice of B Corp certification. It can also be a game changer for consumers and investors. Over the past five years, B Lab said small businesses with B Corp certification have had a 30 percent higher survival rate than U.S. small businesses as a whole," Hartford Business noted.
While green products are increasingly available, telling the difference between "eco-friendly" companies and those with a real commitment to sustainable practices has become much easier thanks to B Corp certification, a business badge for companies with a proven track record on sustainability, community, transparency and fair employee treatment.
Companies looking for certification must complete an assessment of their current practices, gather documentation and go through an audit with a B Lab consultant, and pay fees anywhere from $500 to $25,000 depending on size. But the payoff is more than worth the trouble.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 15, 2013 08:07 PM
Patagonia Toasts Itself with Organic Brew
Outdoor clothing company Patagonia is turning 40 and in perfect mid-life crisis fashion, it's adopting some new hobbies. The eco-friendly outfitter is actually brewing its own brand of beer.
Created in partnership with New Belgium Brewing, the limited-edition organic beer will be known as California Route Lager and only sold in 12-ounce cans, according to the Huffington Post. But the lager won’t be around for long. “This is just a promotional, one-time special collaboration," Patagonia spokesperson Jess Clayton told Bloomberg Businessweek. "Patagonia is not getting into the beer-business in a permanent way.”
The name comes “from the California route on Patagonia's Mount Fitz Roy, first climbed in 1968 by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and friends,” according to the company’s press release.
We'll drink to that!Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 12, 2013 06:41 PM
Fair trade and sustainability aren't just terms associated with food and CPG brands. More clothing brands are taking a closer look at how their garments are made, what they're made of and who is doing the work, and iconic clothier Levi Strauss & Co. is the latest to join the effort.
The company's new Dockers Wellthread line includes a men's collection that combines sustainable design, environmental practices, and support of an eco-system that provides for all apparel workers. The line will be available online and in-stores in Europe.
“How you make a garment is just as important as the garment itself,” Michael Kobori, the company's VP of social and environmental sustainability, told WWD. “We believe that we can use our iconic brands to drive positive sustainable change and profitable results. With that comes the responsibility to continually innovate for each new generation of consumers.”Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 30, 2013 12:49 PM
Patagonia, the sportswear company known for its earth-friendly ethos, is confronting the 800-pound gorilla that continues to plague sustainability conversations—growth-dependent capitalism.
Their latest socially-conscious initiative, The Responsible Economy, calls on consumers and businesses to rethink disposability for more effective and sustainable resource allocation.
“This is the most ambitious and important endeavor we’ve ever undertaken. Our other environmental campaigns (the depletion of the oceans, pollution of water, obstacles to migration paths for animals) have been about the symptoms of this problem,” said Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia. “Now we are addressing the core.”Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on August 29, 2013 02:41 PM
Patagonia was doing "sustainable" before most companies even knew what that meant. And now the brand is benefiting from an interesting, maybe even unique, sort of synergy that has resulted from its long and clearly authentic embrace of an environmental ethos.
In short, Patagonia lately has been urging its outdoorsy customers to "buy less" and question whether they really need that several-hundred-dollar new parka, even from Patagonia. The messaging has been suggesting they should just repair and keep using the $700 Patagonia parkas they already have instead of buying new ones.
Result? Patagonia's fans and customers are both joining the brand's sustainability cause—and buying more new parkas from Patagonia. Sales increased almost one-third to $543 million last year, which included about nine months of the "Buy Less" marketing, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. And owner and founder Yvon Chouinard has estimated that revenue will continue to grow by about 15 percent a year—no mean achievement for a mature brand.Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 14, 2013 11:41 AM
Patagonia, a trailblazer in high-end outdoor apparel and environmental advocacy, is stepping up its corporate responsibility commitment to sustainability with $20 Million and Change, a venture capital fund to invest in startups with innovative solutions involving food, water, energy or waste.
“We believe in our company’s long-term vision around the environment and areas we want to make change in,” said Rose Marcario, CEO of the newly created holding company Patagonia Works. “We know there are great entrepreneurs out there with really great ideas and resources and they could be the next Patagonia.”
Already in the business of providing grants, Patagonia is hoping to nurture the next movement leader, Marcario said. "I do think business is an untapped well for change."
The company has just reorganized into a new umbrella holding company, Patagonia Works, through which it's earmarking the initial $20 million for investment in early-stage small businesses, ranging from $500,000 to $5 million. The plan has only one prerequisite—that a company must already have $1 million in revenue or capitalization.Continue reading...