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Month October 2013

The Intergenerational Transmission of Automobile Brand Preferences: Empirical Evidence and Implications for Firm Strategy

Soren Anderson, Ryan Kellogg, James Sallee & Ashley Langer:

We document a strong correlation in the brand of automobile chosen by parents and their adult children, using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. In our preferred estimates, children are 46% more likely to choose an automobile brand if their parents also chose that brand. Correlation in intrafamily brand choice could represent a causal trans- mission of brand preference, or it could be due to correlated family characteristics that determine brand choice. We present a variety of empirical specifications that lend support to the causal interpretation. We then discuss implications of intergenerational brand pref- erence transmission for automakers and market outcomes, focusing on a model of Bertrand competition in the presence of brand loyalty that is transmitted across generations. We find that intergenerational transmission of brand preferences should lower equilibrium prices for vehicles targeted at parents and raise equilibrium prices for vehicles targeted at children. We further show that firms have a unilateral incentive to instill a sense of brand loyalty in their consumers, even though equilibrium profits may decrease when all firms do so.

The Loss Of The Unmonitored Self

Tom Foremski:

Historians will look back at the past 20 years as a unique period, a time when there was great opportunity to see deep into the collective soul of entire societies because people’s online behavior was largely naked of any fears of being judged or monitored.

Novelist Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez wrote: “All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret.” We once had insight into that secret world.

People now go “dark” — ditching their natures, becoming self-monitored, self-critical, and second guessing themselves and everything around them, in the wake of the NSA disclosures and the enormous amount of corporate spying on individuals, so that they will buy more products. We lose far more than we gain.

The individual and their search box was almost as private and sacrosanct as the communion box — and exhibited the same honesty. You can see this in the search data that AOL released in 2006 as part of a research project. It anonymized 658,000 users but for the first time we got to see a narrative from each user that pointed to great sorrow and drama within ordinary peoples’ lives that could not be revealed in any other way.

Here is a list of searches by user “005315”:

Design Thinking at Kohler Presentation



Mary Reid, Kohler’s VP Industrial Design gave a worthwhile presentation on “Design Thinking” this evening at Monona Terrace.

This image was taken with my iPhone 5s in relatively low light. Rather impressive.

Mary’s presentation included a brief discussion on technology & plumbing, including wifi and bluetooth equipped toilets along with a shower head that includes a bluetooth speaker.

Somewhat related: Consumer DSLRs “dead in 5 years” and my comments on the rapidly expanding world of iPhone photography.

Asymcar 6: Peak Horse

Asymcar

Steve Crandall brings a new perspective as a guest. Steve’s analysis of complex systems has given him a huge pool of wisdom into which we dip our dainty spoons.

We survey the interlopers seeking to replace many jobs that cars have traditionally done, from horses to bicycles, planes, trains and buses.

We dive deeper into a few earlier Asymcar topics including energy, regulation, infrastructure, power train evolution, societal changes, distribution networks, urbanization and consider the promise of electric bicycles.

Several innovation timing lessons temper our expectations for immediate improvements.

Finally, we revisit the emerging transportation information layer and how such services may change public behavior and the auto-ecosystem.

Ansel Adams: Master Photographer, Master Marketer

Jonathan Blaustein:

It has now been five years since the global economic system nearly collapsed into ruin, and the ensuing half-decade has been difficult for most — apart from the infamous 1 percent — including professional photographers. The ease and accessibility of digital technology combined with the rise of the mostly free Internet have eliminated many of the ways photographers eked out a middle-class living. Even university jobs — once a stable and comfortable perch — have been replaced by cheap and benefits-free adjuncts.
 
 What’s a struggling photographer to do?
 
 The burgeoning model requires a Malcolm X “By Any Means Necessary” attitude. Photographers are encouraged to write, blog, teach workshops, engage in social media, secure sponsorships, develop exterior passions and basically do anything and everything to put food on the table. One blogger has called the phenomenon the “21st century hustle.” (O.K., that blogger is me.) But as much as this feels new and different, we can trace the Renaissance-man lineage back to the most famous American photographer in history: Ansel Adams.
 
 Mr. Adams, ever the optimist, once proclaimed: “The best picture is around the corner. Like prosperity.” That sums up his future-embracing outlook, because when Mr. Adams committed himself to his career, there were few examples of successful professional photographic artists whom he could emulate. Ansel Adams’s career provides a road map to potential success while also serving as a reminder that everything old will be new again.

Shoeshine Wisdom: “Most people say that they are lucky”

Human interaction is one of the many gifts that travel bestows. Random, unplanned conversations are truly a blessing with wisdom as a dessert.

And so it was while changing planes recently, that I happened upon a 60+ year young shoeshine expert. This man had been through a difficult job change and recently returned to work shining shoes.

Beginning to work on my 24 year old Allen Edmonds wing tips (great value), he looked up and asked how I became “successful”? I could only reply that God has blessed me with abundance. I have been given a fabulous family, health and wonderful smart colleagues.

Continuing to work diligently on my shoes, he added “most people say that they are lucky.”

“But, I know, that God gives it all to us. We may not always understand why, but “every good and perfect thing comes from above“.”

He continued that after this unplanned job change, he went back to several former shoe shine customers who gladly gave him their business again.

I had a similar conversation with a shoeshine family several years ago. They were some of the most friendly and generous people I’ve encountered while on travel.

This brief conversation came streaming back into my mind after chatting with a friend who is fully recovered from heart difficulties. I replied to this good news with a “Thank God”. My friend thanked medicine. To me, it all originates with God’s grace.

What a blessing it is to travel.

Self-driving cars projected to reduce injuries by 90 percent, save $450 billion annually

Shawn Knight:

Driver error is the number one cause of automobile crashes so what would happen if you removed humans from the equation? According to independent research by the Eno Center for Transportation, vehicle-related injuries would drop by 90 percent and save the US economy roughly $450 billion each year.

The group discovered that 40 percent of fatal crashes in the US involved alcohol, drugs, fatigue or distraction – all metrics that wouldn’t affect an autonomous vehicle. Even in cases where a vehicle is primarily responsible for an accident, human elements like not paying attention and speeding often contributed to the occurrence of crashes and / or the severity of injuries.

The adoption rate of self-driving vehicles among consumers will of course play a big role in how many accidents can be avoided and how much money the economy could save. For example, if one in every 10 car was replaced with an autonomous vehicle, it would reduce crashes and subsequent injuries by roughly half and save around $25 billion each year.

In Almost Every European Country, Bikes Are Outselling New Cars

Krishnadev Calamur:

We know that Europeans love their bicycles — think Amsterdam or Paris. Denmark even has highways specifically for cyclists.

Indeed, earlier this month, NPR’s Lauren Frayer reported that Spain, which has long had a love affair with cars, is embracing the bicycle: For the first time on record, Lauren noted, bicycles outsold cars in the country.

But it’s becoming a Continent-wide phenomenon. More bikes were sold in Italy than cars — for the first time since World War II.

This prompted us to look at the figures across the 27 member states of the European Union for both cars and bicycles. New-car registrations for Cyprus and Malta weren’t available, so we took them out of the comparison.

Empire of digital chip meets nemesis: the law of diminishing political returns

Simon Jenkins:

Every year I return from a visit to California dazed at cyberia’s next expansion in reach. After machines that can track and record our every move will come sensors that can identify our faces and gather, catalogue and distribute such data worldwide.
 After tools that can read messages come ones that can hear our talk and predict our needs, converse with us and deliver us products, services, cures, contentments. There is no escape from this. Everyone has a footprint, including those who think they do not.
 
 Updating Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four for the digital age, Dave Eggers, in his novel The Circle, satirises Silicon Valley’s “completion of the singularity”.
 
 Each person becomes a global avatar, bugged and followed 24 hours a day. All transactions, all experiences are public. A virtual realm mirrors the physical one.

In a Major Departure, Google Shows Banner Ads in Search Results

Online ads have, perhaps, peaked.

Claire Cain Miller:

Google’s search engine was once characterized by its simplicity — both its search results and ads were blue links against a white background. No longer.

On Wednesday, Google confirmed that it was testing banner ads atop search results, a major departure from its earlier advertising and from its past promises to users.

The banner ads are part of an experiment involving several advertisers, including Southwest Airlines, that has been running on desktop computers in the United States for about a week, according to a person with knowledge of the ads. They come as Google battles a slowing desktop search business and falling ad prices.

Google: 2005 vs 2013.