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Consumer goods companies preparing for climate change impact

FOX News

BERLIN – Companies behind some of the best-known consumer products -- from soaps to sodas -- are beginning to factor climate change into their business equation, according to a report published Monday. The survey of 16 major corporations by non-profit group CDP found that many are working to lower their carbon emissions, prepare for the effects of global warming on their supply chain and respond to growing environmental consciousness among customers. Examples include brewer AB InBev's efforts to develop a variety of barley that needs less water and Unilever adjusting its detergent formulas so they work at the lower "eco" temperature settings on modern washing machines, the London-based group said. "We were surprised how much these companies were aligning themselves with changes in consumer preferences," said Carole Ferguson, the report's lead author. This includes chasing trends such as veganism, a small but growing factor in the market that's driven by people who shun animal products for ethical or health reasons, but also because they have larger carbon footprints.


Regional bank in Japan battles ultralow interest rates with wine bar and sea urchins

The Japan Times

The new approach comes as regulators cautiously loosen the rules to let banks venture into other businesses to help offset the hit to their net interest income from the Bank of Japan's ultraloose monetary policy. For Takeshi Yoshimura, the 59-year-old president of Yamaguchi Financial Group, the effects of the BOJ's zero interest rates are compounded by other challenges his region faces, notably a dwindling population and an exodus of firms to bigger cities like Tokyo. That is why he is prodding young employees to come up with ideas to make better use of the bank's roughly 280 branch offices spread across Yamaguchi and Hiroshima, the prefectures where Yamaguchi Financial mainly operates. One idea was to rent out space to a wine bar at a branch in Yuya, a sleepy town with hot springs where such businesses aren't common. "Yuya is a nice tourist destination, but there are very few places to drink and dine," Yoshimura said.


Reckitt Benckiser to acquire Mead Johnson for $16.6 billion

U.S. News

Reckitt Benckiser, which makes products ranging from condoms to Lysol, offered $90 for each Mead Johnson share, or about $16.6 billion. That's a 29 percent premium from Mead Johnson's closing stock price on Feb. 1 -- before word of the deal began to be discussed publicly.


Topic Modeling with Wasserstein Autoencoders

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

We propose a novel neural topic model in the Wasserstein autoencoders (W AE) framework. Unlike existing variational autoencoder based models, we directly enforce Dirichlet prior on the latent document-topic vectors. We exploit the structure of the latent space and apply a suitable kernel in minimizing the Maximum Mean Discrepancy (MMD) to perform distribution matching. We discover that MMD performs much better than the Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) in matching high dimensional Dirichlet distribution. We further discover that incorporating randomness in the encoder output during training leads to significantly more coherent topics. To measure the diversity of the produced topics, we propose a simple topic uniqueness metric. Together with the widely used coherence measure NPMI, we offer a more wholistic evaluation of topic quality. Experiments on several real datasets show that our model produces significantly better topics than existing topic models.


CES for Marketers: Alexa Wows, Virtual Reality Underwhelms

#artificialintelligence

Over the past few years the CES trade show has become a familiar post-holidays pilgrimage for many of the country's biggest marketers. They see the event as a way to get a sneak peek at the latest tech gadgets and technologies that can help them engage with their customers. This year marketing executives from companies such as Coca-Cola, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Campbell Soup and PepsiCo Inc. made their way to Las Vegas for the gathering. The convention was jam-packed with everything from self-driving cars to robots that play chess to Procter & Gamble's air-freshener spray that can connect with Alphabet Inc.'s Nest home to automatically release pleasant scents in the home. But there was one category that seemed to especially win over marketers: virtual assistants.