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New Global Dynamics of Consumption and Marketing

Assignment 2 (mid-size paper, 8pages <1,200 words>, double-spaced, 50 points)

General Prompt:
Under topics 3 and 4, “New Global Dynamics of Consumption and Marketing,” we have been examining salient features of the Retailing Revolution stretching from Sears to Walmart and Amazon.  Write an essay critically examining those features and their   impact on the American way of life and also elsewhere. In completing this essay, be sure to address the following issues and questions:

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1.      Explain and compare how each of these three companies in different historical periods stunningly succeeded in overwhelming and largely decimating their competitors. For clues, see below*.
2.      This retailing revolution is characterized in the Frontline documentary on Walmart as the domination of the ‘pull economy’ over the ‘push economy.’ What does this mean? What are the key features of the ‘pull economy’ as exemplified by Walmart as a brick-and-mortar retailer and by Amazon as an ‘on-line’ retailer?
3.      What are the negative economic and social consequences of this retailing revolution? For clues, see below**.
4.      Who are the ‘winners’ and who are the ‘losers’ of this revolution? Is the privileging of the ‘consumer’ at the expense of the ‘producers’ good for America?
5.      Finally, we have discussed in class how both Walmart and Amazon are “multi-faceted, innovative, disruptive and resilient” companies that are currently engaged in a fierce competition. In your view, which of the two companies will succeed in dominating the American (and the global) retail market in the next decade and why?  In answering the “why” part of the question, identify specific strategies and practices deployed by Walmart and Amazon.

*Clues for* 1:Deployment of new technologies, the mastering of the supply chain, marketing/advertising strategies, and most importantly, the privileging (or pampering) of the Customer/Consumer (and the rhetoric that goes with it). You are free to use other factors to explain and compare how each of these retailers succeeded so dramatically in the marketplace. You have to illustrate these points with examples.

Clues for 3**: Decimating and reducing competition, squeezing suppliers for reduced prices, forcing suppliers to ‘outsource’ production, poor treatment of low-end employees and questionable ethical practices (bribery and unsafe working conditions in factories managed by vendors in poor countries and stressful working conditions for people working in the “fulfillment centers” and for the staff and mangers in the corporate offices)?  Here focus on Walmart and Amazon. You have to illustrate these points with examples.

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