Sunday, September 28, 2014

Wine Review: Apothic Red Wine 2012

You have been invited to a dinner party and need to pick up a quality wine for supper. No need to walk up and down the aisle to find the right wine that meets both the quality and cost criteria you had in your head when you first stepped into the store. Apothic Red 2012 is a blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, and Merlot that balances the different wines for a high quality outcome.

It contains mostly sweet flavors that include raspberry, cherry, vanilla, mocha and some boysenberry. It is a smooth wine with a hardy body and a pleasant aftertaste. This would be the type of wine you would pick up for just about any social affair. Most drinkers will be satisfied with the quality, taste, and consistency of their product.

Apothic Red Wine Maker’s Blend is a winter wine by style and complements a variety of winter related foods. Meat dishes, heavy soups, and wild game regularly pair with a heavier red wine. Room temperature wine also complements hot dish foods more commonly in the cool months. 

Red wine is generally considered healthiest choice among wines. Studies have shown that red wine compounds in the form of polyphenols play a role in inhibiting lipid peroxidation, free radicals, platelet aggregation, and strengthens anti-inflammation (Natella, et. al, 2011). A glass of wine every once in a while has positive supporting effect on overall health. 

Natella, F., et. al. (2011). Drinking guidance for red wine: to be taken with meals: red wine prevents post prandial increase of plasma oxidized lipids. Journal of Wine Research, 22 (2).

Friday, September 26, 2014

Does Improvements in Consumer Sentiment and GNP Indicate Future U.S. Growth?

The University of Michigan recently announced improvements in consumer sentiment from 80 in March to 84.6 in September (1).  Consumers who have been frugal with their pay checks over the past may now be willing to open their wallets. Increased consumer spending matched with improvements in Gross National Product (GNP) could be a good sign for the economy. 

Consumer sentiment and sales are two different things but certainly positive impressions today can lead to increased sales tomorrow.  According to Gelper, et. al. (2007) positive consumer sentiment is followed by increased purchases of products and services in the trailing 4-5 months. They argue that consumer sentiment maintains some predictive power over consumer spending. 

Another complementary announcement by the Commerce Department posted a rise in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 4.6% (2).  Positive GNP numbers were realized from personal consumption expenditures, exports, private inventory investment, state and local government spending, nonresidential fixed investments, and residential fixed investments.  

Consumer sentiment does have an impact on GDP. Negative consumer sentiment can lower GNP and positive consumer sentiment can raise GNP even though they are not associated with traditional market fundamentals (Matsusaka & Sbordone, 1995).  Contrary to popular opinion, consumer sentiment is strong enough to influence a 13 to 26 percent variance in GNP. 

Together these numbers support the idea that growth in consumer spending is more likely over the next few months. A short lag is not necessarily a bad thing if consumer spending also prompts American manufacturers to invest more in their operations to fulfill consumer needs and further strengthen GNP. It is possible that long-term exports could rise as U.S. based companies find parity with low cost foreign providers. 

Gelper, et. al. (2007). Consumer sentiment and consumer spending: decomposing the Granger causal relationship in the time domain. Applied Economics, 39 (1). 

Matsusaka, J. & Sbordone, A. (1995). Consumer confidence and economic fluctuations. Economic Inquiry, 33 (2).

Moving Beyond Service-Dominant Logic to Include Change

Service related add-ons can raise the value of products while encouraging higher levels of customer satisfaction. A paper by Lusche & Spohrer discusses the service-dominant (S-D) logic as a science that encourages systems-level thinking and provides greater value propositions. The development of service related products alleviates many human-oriented problems in business and government entities.  Thinking about service requires moving beyond the obvious to incorporate difficult to account for complexity.

Improvement comes with a level of chaos as we learn that we are interconnected and influenced by a complex system of people, events, and actors. S-D logic helps us understand how the underlying principles that foster growth and creation are not readily apparent. They are part of the fabric of our environment but when taken together create the totality of our economic system.  

Innovation changes the environment in a way that can encourage higher levels of functioning and interaction between business and customers. Sometimes this innovation is complex and at other times it is small and adjustable. Change is the process of generating new solutions to existing processes and enhancing smooth business functioning through continuous adjustment. 

Current institutional logic works well when the market is simple and stable. Business and marketing management is focused heavily on analysis, planning and control but are not optimum when the environment changes. The process of strategizing is based upon fixed market assumptions that don’t regularly leave enough room for unexpected adjustments. 

It is important to consider the adjustments in business development as the business changes and adapts to its environment. When new products and services make their way onto the market they naturally create change among the economic actors who seek to maximize their earning potential. We can see this occur in the development of stronger and more reliable cell phones that incorporate apps to enhance their functionality. 

All service development should think about strategy beyond the here and now and leave enough flexibility within the strategic decision-making process to adjust to changes and new developments as they occur. This requires openness to new information that can help a strategy adjust as that new information becomes relevant. Providing for some level of contingency planning of most likely change scenarios can be beneficial. 

Lusch, R. & Spohrer, J. (2012). Evolving serve for a complex, resilient, and sustainable world. Journal of Marketing Management, 28 (13-14).

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Healthy Living: Lentil Soup as a Body Scrubber

Lentils are considered a super food that does more for the body than most other food types combined. As a legume, lentils are one of the easiest beans to prepare and can go a long way in keeping your body fully stocked with energy producing fiber.  Cooking lentil soup allows the intake of natural nutrients along with a great way to satisfy hunger throughout the day. 

Lentils lower cholesterol and improve heart health (1).  The higher volumes of soluble fiber lower cholesterol and reduce risks of heart disease and stroke by scrubbing arteries. The soluble fiber develops a gel-like substance in the digestive tract and collects bile that contains cholesterol and pushes it out of the body (2). 

We know that protein is important for encouraging muscle strength. Lentils not only provide protein (18g per cup) but also stabilize blood sugar levels helping keep insulin from bouncing around (3). The slow release of nutrients and fuel acts as a buffer against quick shots of blood sugar that helps maintain weight.

Bowl 309 calories


-2 cups of lentils
-4 cups vegetable or beef broth.
-1 medium diced onion
-4 cups water
-3 celery stalks sliced
-1 large diced tomato
-2 carrots sliced
-2 garlic cloves or garlic salt
-Black pepper and oregano to taste.


-Soak lentils in water for 2 hours to soften and then drain.
-Stir lentils and all other ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on medium heat for 8 to 10 hours.