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The post-recession US market

Q.1)The case is about the American arm of the Italian corporation Diesel S.p.A, Diesel USA Inc. (Diesel USA), best known for its high-end denim. Diesel USA ran into problems due to some of the strategies it had adopted in the post-recession US market. Since its launch in 1995, it had been the sole distributor of Diesel products in the US. Its five-pocket jeans dominated pop culture in the 1990s and early 2000s. But the global recession had a negative impact on the retail sector and Diesel USA fell victim to it. In an attempt to turn the company around, the management wanted to develop an exclusive presence in high-end locations, for which it executed several long-term, expensive leases and repositioned some of the existing stores in premium locations. But these strategies were ill-timed and non-productive and impacted the profits of the company. Incidents of cyber theft and fraud in the company only added to its problems. These failed strategic decisions implemented by the management compelled Diesel USA to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on March 5, 2019. In the court filing, the company outlined a three-year restructuring plan, emphasizing profitability of the company by opening stores in cost-effective locations, closing some of the stores, improving the product lines, and associating with social media influencers. It remained to be seen whether the plan would help extricate Diesel USA from the situation in which it found itself.

The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:Understand the market for premium denim in the US.
Understand the reasons for Diesel’s poor performance in the US.
Examine the post-recession strategies of Diesel in the US.
Examine reorganization post bankruptcy
Assess the future prospects of Diesel in the US.

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Q.2)This case discusses about the disruption that US-based Snow Monkey Superfood Ice Treat, creators of the new Superfood Ice Treat, was causing to the US ice cream market in 2017. The US ice cream market was witnessing a change in customer preferences for ice creams. Snow Monkey, marked its entry into the healthy ice cream segment with its products which claimed to be made from seven natural, plant-based ingredients, and was vegan, paleo, non-dairy and free from all eight major allergens like gluten, soy, nuts and lactose. Snow Monkey was founded by two roommates at Boston University (BU), Rachel and Mariana who were athletes but also great ice cream lovers. Their requirement for a healthy dessert prompted to create their own-version of healthy ice cream. Backed by funding from Kickstarter campaign and funds, Snow Monkey gained momentum. and was launched in January 2017. While the ice cream market was shifting gears to meet the increasing demand for healthy ice cream option, Snow Monkey was trying to position itself as a snack that could be consumed as a morning meal or breakfast.

The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:To understand the trends in ice cream market.
To analyze how new brands are disrupting the ice cream market.
To examine what strategy the company would adopt to stay ahead in competition.

Q.3)The case ‘DeHaat Agritech Platform – Providing End-to-End Agricultural Solutions to Farmers’ is about the agritech platform ‘DeHaat’ started by Green Agrevolution Pvt. Ltd. The agritech platform provided services to the farmers related to agri-inputs and agri-outputs at a single place thereby eliminating the need for middlemen and distributors. The case starts off with the funding received by DeHaat from the year of its establishment to the latest round of funding in March 2019. The need and potential for agri tech startups are discussed in detail.
The case explains the challenges faced by DeHaat. The DeHaat platform and its mode of functioning are explained further with its business model. The DeHaat platform helped the farmers get the right agri-inputs on time at a competitive price and the market linkages provided on the platform enabled the farmers get the right price for their produce. DeHaat also provided crop advisory services to the farmers such as how to cultivate the most suitable crop, the correct fertilizer and pesticides to be used, and the right time for harvesting and processing the agri-outputs based on each farmer profile. DeHaat further planned to replicate the model in other states and further expand its services in farm credit and insurance.

The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:Analyze the impact of new technologies on traditional business processes.
Understand the traditional supply chain management process and how new technologies cause disruption in the traditional supply chain process.
Analyze the difference between incremental innovation and disruptive/breakthrough innovation.
Understand how an organization overcomes the challenges in implementing a new technology.
Evaluate the how an organization deals with the inefficiencies in the supply chain process.

Q.4)The case describes Maersk’s transformation from a shipping conglomerate to an end-to-end transportation and logistics services provider. It details the top management’s vision to transform operations through digitization. In addition to partnering with technology firms, Maersk has adopted the ecosystem approach to growth by attempting to become the focal service provider and investing in startups working on disruptive technologies that act as ‘complementors’ to the core service offerings of Maersk through its online platforms. The case provides details on the Maersk Growth Venture Program and the creation and benefits expected from its corporate accelerator OceanPro. It also explains how Maersk has accelerated its transformation plan with investments in more than half a dozen startups in the second half of 2018, thus attempting to quickly build a shipping logistics and supply chain ecosystem around itself and become the ‘Amazon’ of the shipping industry.

The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:Examine the drivers that are leading to changes in the shipping industry.
Understand the importance of top management vision in the success of a company.
Examine the transformation initiatives and growth strategy of Maersk.
Understand the challenges and benefits of using digitization as a key element of the corporate strategy.
Describe the importance of corporate accelerator programs in digitization strategy.

Q.5)The case ‘BigBasket’s Big Dreams’ is about the growth of the online grocery firm BigBasket.com (BigBasket) and the customer value proposition it offered along with its business model which were the primary factors for its success. The case starts off with the funding of US$ 150 million received by BigBasket under the series F round of funding. The growth of the startup in the online grocery segment is discussed along with details of the funding received right from the series A to the series F rounds. BigBasket’s customer value proposition is discussed in detail. The business model of BigBasket was different from that of other online players in that it offered a wide range of items and a ‘no questions asked’ return policy. Using the latest technology to provide better services, BigBasket created a loyal base of customers. Its business model is further discussed along with the competition faced by it. The case ends with the future outlook for the company and its fight for supremacy in the face of stiff competition.

The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:Analyze how Porter’s generic strategies framework can be used to achieve competitive advantage.
Understand the concept of customer value proposition in relation to online ecommerce organizations.
Evaluate the business model of online ecommerce firms.
Understand the growth of startups, their funding, traction, scale up, and competition.

Q.6)The case is about emerging Shenzhen-based power-bank rental start-up Laidian Technology Co. Ltd. (Laidian), which serves as a sharing platform for people to charge their mobile devices on the go. It was one of the first companies in China to cash in on the country’s latest sharing economy fad – the mobile charger rental business. Founded in 2014, Laidian’s business model is to set up fixed charging stations in public places that attract heavy foot traffic such as restaurants, shopping malls, train stations, and airports. For a small fee, a user can borrow a charger after scanning a QR code with his/her smartphone, and can return it later at any of the Laidian’s power bank rental stations. By 2018, Laidian has managed to expand into more than 280 cities nationwide and attract over 30 million registered users and hundreds of millions of service users. The start-up looks to steadily expand overseas amid growing domestic competition.
Eyeing a niche market, Laidian hopes to be the leader in China’s power bank rental sector going forward. But this journey is not likely to be without challenges. Though an intriguing idea, it is a still a risky business proposition, considering not only the low rental fees but also the risk of theft. Some analysts were concerned over the viability and sustainability of the business model of power bank rentals, fearing it may be just another fad. Also, with the fast developing technology and mobile phones with better battery capabilities being released, these business models of power bank rentals might die out in the foreseeable future. Moreover, growing competition, patent infringements by rivals, low profit margins, and concerns over breach of users’ privacy are some of the challenges Laidian could continue to face going forward.
As Laidian gears up to make headway in the Chinese power bank rental sector, analysts wondered: Can Power bank rentals become the next big thing in the sharing-economy business model or is it just a fad? Can Laidian emerge as China’s next unicorn born out of power banks?

The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:Understand concepts like sharing economy, and collaborative consumption.
Analyze the business model of Laidian.
Examine the features which differentiate conventional businesses from sharing economy platforms.
Understand the reasons behind Laidian’s success in China and suggest ways by which Laidian can gain a competitive advantage going forward.
Identify the challenges faced by Laidian in the emerging power bank rentals sector in China and explore strategies that the company could adopt to sustain itself in this competitive market.

Q.7)The case “Venmo: A Mobile Payment Service Targeted at Millennials in the US” talks about the factors that led to United States (US)-based mobile payment service company Venmo, LLC (Venmo) achieving success over a period of nine years. The case starts with a brief history of Venmo. It then describes the innovative products and services launched by the company, which helped it to connect with millennials. It also highlights the stiff competition that Venmo faced from other major mobile payments service players. The case ends with the future plans of the company which include partnering with more merchants in the US and expanding its services in the UK.

The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:Understand the customer driven marketing strategy of a mobile payment service company.
Analyze the business plan of a mobile payment service company aimed at achieving rapid growth.
Identify the strategies used by a mobile payment service company to achieve competitive advantage through differentiation.
Analyze the role played by technology in enabling a mobile payment service company to offer unique products and services.
Examine the challenges faced by a company with a unique business model.

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