Planning for the future: good gas mileage

Gas mileageIf you think your hybrid gets great gas mileage now, wait until you hear what is planned for the future! Car manufacturers will be required to increase the mileage gained from each gallon to anywhere between 47 to 65 miles per gallon, as stated by the Department of Transportation and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. So far it looks like it will be applied to Sports Utility Vehicles and other cars. This could be great news for everyone looking to save money. Although it sounds great, will it even matter when the year 2025 rolls around? Will it already be too late to change things at that point? How much will we be paying for each gallon of gas in just another five years?

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The comeback of America Online from the ashes

America OnlineIf you are old like me, you probably remember the days of America Online in the ’90s. AOL was one of the first companies to introduce Internet to millions of people. I was one of such people. Some referred to AOL as Internet with wheels because it was a starting point for many individuals that were exploring the world wide web for the first time. Countless hours were spent on chatting with existing friends and making new ones. The built in browser, the ability to send instant messages to people, and being able to email people all from within one software program was a beautiful thing to have at your fingertips.

So, what went wrong? Why did America Online fail as a company when they had a significant advantage right from the start? How are they turning it around by taking the company in a different directions after a decade?

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Should colleges mandate attendance?

Empty classroomRecently, I had to write an article regarding whether attendance should be mandatory for first and second year college students. I chose to take the view that it should not be for various reasons.

First, consider that being at college is a choice. It is not like high school where a person has to be there if under the age of 18. Additionally, there are times when other obligations in our lives take importance than being in a classroom. Professors understand such complications in their students’ lives and are more than happy to provide lecture notes on the Internet.

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Increasing alcohol price or tax will hurt businesses

liquorWith the gloomy look of economy, there are people who still do not understand the implications of their actions. Recently, I have been coming across ideas to increase either the price of alcohol or the taxes levied on the sale of alcoholic beverages. While it is understandable that some people want to reduce consumption through either directly hiking the prices or indirectly through raising taxes, the results will be devastating to many local operators, especially the ones already feeling the effects of the slowdown in economy.

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Is the recession over? Some like to think so

Unemployment rate mapAccording to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the recession has been over since June 2009. I guess the rest of us are just living in a dream world where jobs are being lost day after day and the cost of everything is rising. Maybe it is only a matter of time when everything will be back to normal, but one can never be too sure.

NBER states in their report that just because the recession is over does not mean things are back to normal. One point they make is that economy stopped contracting and expansion began. National Bureau of Economic Research defines recession as “a period of falling economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales.

Their definition seems to conflict with their own report. How can there be recovery if there is such high unemployment rate still? One wonders about the authenticity of such claims.

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Great marketers appeal to people’s emotions

Gucci adDid you know that an average person is shown 2,500 advertisements everyday? How many of them do you remember? Probably not many as most of us have become numb to them and just tune them out.

Businesses that have the money devote extreme amounts of resources to understanding what makes people remember an advertisement. They know who their target market is, how that market is going to respond to their ad, and how they can appeal to people’s emotions in order to get them to buy their products. As more consumers begin to buy products that appeal to their emotions, corporations are capitalizing on this newly discovered method.

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Is your business targeting the right demographics?

Black BMWThere are a million ways to segment the type of consumers you want to market your products to. For example, demographic segmentation (age, gender, income, ethnic, family-life cycle).

Although marketing to specific age groups is a well understood concept by many, still there is a need for more information on this subject. For example, big businesses such as the Disney Corporation know extremely well how to sell their products to children and tweens. They understand that the buying process will have to be routed through a parent or a guardian.

Similarly, elderly people are the target for many industries. Marketing to people of middle to upper age requires a different kind of thinking. It is a lot easier to sell to this age group compared to many others if your firm knows how to proceed. Here are a few reasons why your business should be going after this age group.

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What will banks do with foreclosure properties?

ForeclosureEver since the collapse of the housing market a few years ago, banks have been foreclosing on properties left and right. In today’s news, Yahoo is reporting that US homes foreclosures are up 25 percent since last August. What this means is that lenders took back more homes in August than at any other time since the housing market crash!

Last month the number of foreclosed properties reached almost 100,000. It is understandable that banks do not want people living in homes if the tenants are not paying the mortgage. This leads to another question though; what are the banks going to do with all the foreclosure properties? Are they expecting the market to pick up in the near future? Do they have other plans to take care of the properties instead of allowing them to sit idle and possibly need fixtures later?

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The effects of currency exchange on international business

CurrencyWith the invent of transportation and information systems, we have made the world a much smaller place. Businesses are expanding their operations across borders everyday and things can be moved across the planet within 24 hours on jet planes roaring across the skies. Freight trains move relentlessly day and night on carefully woven webs of metal tracks.

As companies increase their interaction with other countries, there are many things to consider. Increased commerce across international borders brings more risks for businesses. These risks include having to deal with and understanding political structures, economics, and cultural diversity of other countries. All such things can be devastating if business managers do not have the knowledge to deal with those issues carefully.

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Online education deprives students of many options

Catholic SchoolgirlThere is no doubt that online education is the next big thing. Universities are saving money by offering courses online rather than in person. Some do it due to lack of space on campus. They need to somehow accommodate the thousands of students that need similar courses. Others do it because it is convenient for many of their commuting students.

For-profit Universities have been flourishing due to the ease of attracting students from all over the country. Given people’s situations at home and work, most just do not have the time to go back to college full time. So they take advantage of these opportunities by taking classes online. But what are some of the things missing from this digital interaction? Are you getting the most out from an online education? Here are some of the things you should be concerned about and keep in mind. These things should help you decide whether an online education is the right path to choose if you have a choice.

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