My final research paper of the semester was on virtual markets.
The standards with which I evaluate grocery purchases have changed over the past several years. Rather than judging purchases primarily on taste, I judge them by what I know about them and how they make me feel in the hours shortly after consumption. This is partly a natural change in preference that comes with age, but also due to widespread increases in consumer awareness, exemplified by the following:
- the willingness of consumers to pay considerable mark-up for “organic” products
- news reports of McDonald’s pink slime, IKEA’s horse meatballs, and other incidences of supply chain efficiency at the expense of honesty and consumer health
- the popularity of food documentaries on Netflix
- the increase in share price of both Chipotle and Whole Foods by ~1000% from 2009
Unfortunately, there probably won’t be a widespread increase in quality and transparency for awhile. Whole Foods (and to a lesser extent Trader Joe’s) will continue to rake in absurd profit margins, supply chains will remain opaque, and the scarcity of organic corporate restaurants will leave potential profits on the table on the days when people aren’t in the mood for a Chipotle burrito.
This is the second research paper I did for the semester. It is a dissection of the “Flash Crash”.