South-Westerns' Economic News Summaries
EconNews Online

EconNews Online is South-Western's service to provide summaries of the latest economics news stories. Review the brief summaries and, for stories of interest, select the full summary.
MONOPOLISTIC COMPETITION
Title  Brief Summary 
The Monopolistically Competitive “Death-Care” Market
Full Summary 
Of the 22,000-some funeral homes in the US, only about 3,000 are part of corporations. The remaining 85% of the funeral homes are owned by smaller firms or families. The difference, they say, and the reason why it is so difficult to conglomerate in this market, is in the services provided.
(Updated September, 2007)
Finally…Facebook for Your Feet
Full Summary 
Just when you thought there couldn’t be another bell or whistle that could go on a shoe, here it comes…the shoe that you can write on.
(Updated August, 2007)
Would You Like Fries With Your Antibiotics?
Full Summary 
Health care has a new player in the market: quick clinics designed to serve people who want common ailments diagnosed at a lower cost than a visit to the doctor. RediClinic and MinuteClinic, two of the most prominent chains in the US, expect to rapidly increase the number of clinics over the next few years. Why are they so popular?
(Updated May, 2007)
Now, Finally, Another Cup of Coffee is Not Just Another Cup of Coffee
Full Summary 
A competition that was created in 1999 has grown to become a way out of poverty for some farmers in developing countries. Known as the Cup of Excellence, this competition encourages farmers to engage in investment designed to stimulate quality of the bean.
(Updated March, 2007)
Pods for…er…Into the Future?
Full Summary 
If you've ever been involved in planning a funeral--or been to a few, for that matter - you know that, despite mortician's best sales efforts, all caskets pretty much look the same: they're boxy, and made of various types of wood or steel. So what happens if you need to buy a casket, but just don't like any of the models you see? You go into business and build them to suit your own aesthetic sensibilities!
(Updated September, 2006)
Should we see King Kong for $8, or The Ring 2 for $4?
Full Summary 
Fly on an airplane, and you can bet that you didn't pay the same airfare as the person sitting next to you. Go to a restaurant before 5:30, and pay an "early bird" reduced dinner price for the exact same meal that someone else will pay triple that price for at 7:30. Why shouldn't the same pricing strategy apply to moviegoers?
(Updated March, 2006)
Chinese Airlines: What's It Take To Make a Yuan here?
Full Summary 
Profitability of Chinese airlines
(Updated March, 2006)
Maybe we’ll like having advertisers up in our face and on our phone
Full Summary 
Marketers are discovering the potential of sending advertising messages to individual cellular phones, arguing that it’s a way of further refining their target audiences.
(Updated February, 2006)
Guess what? People don’t like direct mail the way they used to…
Full Summary 
Despite people’s vehement dislike of direct mail, the annoying fliers work. Or, at least, they used to.
(Updated December, 2005)
Circuses: It's not about fun and games anymore
Full Summary 
Circuses now rely on high-profile clowns to revitalize their industry.
(Updated November, 2005)
Move over Barnes & Noble; make room for John Q. Public, Bookseller
Full Summary 
Companies like Amazon.com, A libris, and eBay are making it easier and easier for consumers to sell their used books online. This glut of used books on the market is giving traditional booksellers a headache of significant proportions.
(Updated November, 2005)
Now French Muslims can have it their way too
Full Summary 
Beurger King, a new fast-food restaurant in Paris, caters to the Muslim population there. In fact, the name is a play on the term "Beur," indicating a second generation North African in France. The food is standard fast-food; burgers, doughnut, and such, but all of the meat is halal - prepared according to Islamic dietary laws.
(Updated September, 2005)
Goodbye Y2K, hello DST
Full Summary 
When daylight-savings time expands by four weeks beginning in 2007, many electronic devices could give consumers big headaches. DVD recorders and VCRs may be programmed with current daylight-saving time zones, but not for the new, expanded daylight savings zones. Computer calendars won't immediately recognize the change, and some people may miss meetings or may find that their TVs taped the wrong shows.
(Updated September, 2005)
Hotels won't change the sheets every night anymore
Full Summary 
Hotel chains are beginning to act environmentally responsible: They're not changing sheets as often. It's also a good business decision, as their costs fall as a result. But some travelers aren't happy with the trend: They want fresh sheets every night.
(Updated September, 2005)
Broadband Just Keeps Getting Cheaper And Cheaper
Full Summary
SBC Communications has announced a move to lower the price of broadband Internet access for only $14.95 a month, sharply undercutting competitors, and putting it below the cost of some dialup plans. The move is putting significant pressure on competitors to follow suit and lower prices.
(Updated August 2005)
Make Sure You Don't Throw The DVD Out With The Camcorder
Full Summary
On the heels of the success of the disposable cameras, drugstore giant CVS Corporation is going to begin selling single-use, disposable digital camcorders.
(Updated August 2005)
Whole Foods makes any condo nicer...
Full Summary
Texas-based grocery chain Whole Foods believes it has the answer to the scarcity of urban grocery stores: locate stores in new skyscraper condo complexes.
(Updated July 2005)
I'll get you there for $14.95!
Full Summary
New immigrant businesses are going head-to-head with American icons. Greyhound has just reduced its fare for its Boston-New York run to $15. It had to, since Lucky Star Travel, a Chinese business, had been charging $15 for some time.
(Updated April 2005)
Something for that person who has everything...
Full Summary
Violight, a new company in New York, has created a toothbrush sanitizer. While it's not the first on the market--the first was about 3 times larger than Violight's--it is the first to attain relatively broad market appeal.
(Updated March 2005)
Wal-Mart vs. Sears-Mart
Full Summary
Is bigger better in the retail world? Sometime yes--if you're a giant firm like Wal-Mart. Sometimes no--when you're anyone else in the field, and it may be impossible to get large enough no matter how many mergers you form.
(Updated January 2005)
This flashlight uses…any battery you want!
Full Summary 
Energizer has come up with a new addition to the flashlight market: a flashlight that will work with any of three different sizes of batteries.
(Updated December, 2004)
Want an iPod? Buy a laptop.
Full Summary 
Across college campuses nationwide, students are increasingly purchasing Apple computers.
(Updated November, 2004)
Long Fingernails and Jammed Printers are the Mothers of Invention
Full Summary 
In an attempt to make office mailing systems more efficient, Avery has come up with "Quick Peel" Automatic Label Peeler - a device that not only prints out labels, but peels them off for you as well.
(Updated September, 2004)
Mommy, can we go to "--- 'R' Us" today?
Full Summary 
Giant toy retailer Toys 'R' Us is considering leaving the toy business.
(Updated September, 2004)
Hey, Hon! Get me a Happy Meal while you get one for the kids!
Full Summary
In response to changing consumer trends toward healthier eating, McDonald's announced that on May 6, 2004, it would roll out Adult Happy Meals, called "Go Active!" meals, in all 13,600 U.S. domestic McDonald's restaurants.
(Updated June, 2004)
Furniture Makers are Down, but Not Out, in North Carolina
Full Summary
Furniture Brands International, a North Carolina furniture maker, has been hampered by competition from China. The company has recently shuttered 17 production facilities, but one in Thomasville, NC, has refused to fold.
(Updated May, 2004)
Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus—Now at Wal-Mart!!"
Full Summary
Santa Claus is coming to Wal-Mart, and kids can get their pictures taken with him for free. This is a move the chain is hoping will draw additional customers to its almost 3,000 stores in the US over this holiday shopping season.
(Updated January 4, 2004)
"You've Got a PC!!"
Full Summary
America Online (AOL) has lost two million US subscribers in the last year, and is fighting back in the internet service market with a new promotion: commit to one year of service, and they'll throw in a personal computer and color printer for only $299.
(Updated January 4, 2004)
Reach out and touch someone over the Internet!
Full Summary
A new form of competition has erupted in the telecommunications industry - using current digital Internet lines to transmit telephone calls, at little cost.
(Updated October 17, 2003)
When it absolutely, positively, has to get there…even FASTER!
Full Summary
In a move to become more competitive in the package-delivery industry, UPS has pledged to reduce ground delivery time by at least one day.
(Updated October 17, 2003)
No More Annoying Sales People
Full Summary
Federated department stores introduces amenities into its stores and reduces the number of human interactions in its stores.
(Updated September 10, 2003)
Just-in-Time State of the Art Fashion
Full Summary
Zara, a clothing manufacturer and retailer, designs and produces new styles in a matter of weeks, and delivers clothes to stores on a just-in-time basis, giving it an edge in the market.
(Updated July 1, 2001)
Product Profusion and Packaging
Full Summary
As the number of products increase, consumers find it harder to make decisions rationally. They may rely on emotional reactions to the packaging of the product more. Many producers have therefore been redesigning their packaging to appeal to consumers.
(Updated March 1, 2000)
Is It "Always Coca-Cola?" Coca-Cola Tries To Ensure It Is
Full Summary
Coke is raising its prices. To prevent consumers switching to other soft drinks, it is beginning a new ad campaign emphasizing the unique features of Coke and its refreshing and fun qualities. The ads employ various musical genres and recall the good times, past and present.
(Updated March 1, 2000)
Anonymous Consumers Increasingly Faceless Too
Full Summary 
Online retailing is booming. It is opening up markets, reducing costs, allowing more flexible responses to consumer needs, and is more convenient. Fast, not necessarily big, businesses are benefiting.
(Updated January 1, 2000)
Health Net-Works Take On New Meaning
Full Summary 
On-line pharmacies are proliferating. Consumers like the convenience and privacy, although the danger is that consumers may be encouraged to buy drugs that would be injurious to their health.
(Updated October 1, 1999)
'Star Wars' and Cola Wars
Full Summary 
Even before the new Star Wars movie opened, stores were flooded with products bearing the likenesses of characters from the film. This was a marketing campaign to promote the movie, but companies like Pepsi see it as very profitable for their own products.
(Updated July 1, 1999)
Internet Auctions: The (and the Cost) Is Right
Full Summary 
Internet auction sites, such as e-Bay, are growing fast. Businesses are expected to increase their share of transactions because they can reach a large number of consumers quickly and do not incur the costs of having a store.
(Updated July 1, 1999)
Irregular Remedy for Iridium
Full Summary 
Iridium is a hand-held satellite phone service. Sales have been poor, but the war in Yugoslavia is increasing the demand from news and aid organizations. Donations of phones to refugee camps are also providing welcome publicity.
(Updated June 1, 1999)
Uncuffed Expansion for Long-Cuffed Sweatshirts
Full Summary 
Handcuffs Sweatshirts are sweatshirts with sleeves that can be rolled down over the hands. The business has taken off in the last four years and future prospects look rosy.
(Updated January 1, 1999)
Restaurants or Machines? The Viability of Vending Ventures
Full Summary 
Canteen Vending Services is about to offer restaurant foods in its vending machines. It expects sales to increase. The restaurant chains hope that they will reach new customers and encourage restaurant visits. However, some restaurants remain skeptical, fearing that lower quality would actually hurt their business.
(Updated December 1, 1998)
Small Firms May Lose Slice of Pizza Delivery Market
Full Summary 
In Britain, there are three main pizza delivery firms, but thousands of smaller operators. It is predicted that many small delivery firms will drop out of the industry in the next five years, leaving the big three firms with two-thirds of the market.
(Updated November 11, 1998)
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