Material World

A Business, Investing and Society podcast
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Having a baby costs more than ever. The average American parents will pay about $245,000 to raise a child born in 2013 through the age of 18 -- and that's just for basics! It isn't just higher costs that are changing the business of raising babies, industry experts tell Jenny and Lindsey in this episode. These days, new parents rely more on technology, care less about brands and are more attuned to product ingredients than previous generations. Mainstream companies such as Johnson & Johnson, once the only option for new parents, are struggling to keep up with changing demands as customers flock to upstarts like the Honest Co. for products they can trust.
Skinny jeans have dominated the denim world for 10 long years and the fashion industry has had enough. Apparel companies are eager for pant styles to change, prompting customers to spend more on updating their entire wardrobe. Yet the skinny silhouette has serious staying power, according to Nancy Zhang, chief operating officer of New York boutique chain Otte. Sid and Ann Mashburn, who own a retail chain, describe how skinny became a style staple, from denim to athletic apparel to menswear. And Bloomberg's Matt Townsend bets the time has come for skinnies to meet their end. Are trends finally starting to show signs of change?
On this new show from Bloomberg, hosts Francesca Levy and Rebecca Greenfield navigate the productivity industry by way of their own experiences. In each episode, one of the two becomes a human guinea pig as she tries to solve a specific work-related problem. Using the advice of so-called productivity experts, the duo tackles obstacles like ineffective to-do lists, overflowing inboxes and unruly meetings. Follow along with their attempts, insights and missteps, and maybe find a solution that will work for you.
For the rich and famous, a name is often much more than just a name, and the Trump family hasn't shied from capitalizing on that opportunity. This week on Material World, we explain how Ivanka Trump turned her name into a brand. Now that the First Daughter has taken a position in the White House, what happens to her namesake company? Jenny and Lindsey speak with branding expert Allen Adamson on the challenges of using a person's name as a brand; actress and entrepreneur Jessica Alba on her decision not to use her name as her masthead and Bloomberg's Kim Bhasin on how the Ivanka Trump Co. is helped or hurt by the election of its founder's father.
Retail has been undergoing a rapid, extreme time of change that hasn't happened  since online shopping came on the scene 20 years  ago. Companies like Wal-Mart,  the biggest retailer in the world, are trying to get ahead of the next trends  in how people will buy stuff. They're making a big bet on virtual reality and  augmented reality, and this week Jenny Kaplan and Lindsey Rupp take you behind  the scenes to use Wal-Mart as a case study for how you might buy a tent or even  a dress in the future.
When you think innovation, Big Tobacco probably doesn't spring to mind. But Philip Morris International alone has spent more than $3 billion trying to create new products and push towards a “Smoke-Free Future.” Jenny and Lindsey dig into the tobacco industry's race to move beyond cigarettes and towards potentially better-for-you products. Philip Morris veteran Tony Snyder, talks about how the largest publicly-traded tobacco company in the world says its turning away from its core product; Businessweek's Felix Gillette describes how the move from “analog” cigarettes to “digital” gadgets snagged his interest; and Truth Initiative President Robin Koval discusses the importance of treating these innovations with caution.
The majority of Americans drink at least one cup of coffee every day. The kinds of drinks and the companies producing them have changed dramatically over the past few decades. Consumers increasingly want their caffeine kick to be gourmet and iced. Meanwhile, artisanal coffee companies are being snatched up by big roasters, much as craft brewers have been acquired by bigger counterparts. This week on Material World, Jenny and Lindsey dig into what's happening with the country's favorite stimulant. They talk with the leaders of Illycaffe Spa, La Colombe Coffee Roasters and Blue Bottle Coffee Co. about why gourmet coffee is growing, how cold drinks got so hot and why industry consolidation is expected to continue.
There was a brief moment 150 years ago when it looked like women might get equal pay for equal work. But they didn’t—and that set the standard for decades to come. On this episode of the Pay Check, Rebecca Greenfield revisits a Civil War-era sex scandal that set the stage for the pay gap debates we're having right now. She talks to Claire Suddath about how a century of rules and laws saying what women can and can’t do have made it easy for companies to pay women less. One big reason the gender pay gap still exists is because of a phenomenon called "occupational sorting"— the idea that some jobs are dominated by women, and those jobs often pay less. That didn't just happen. Claire and Rebecca sort through how history determined the market value for women. Then Claire talks with Lilly Ledbetter, whose fight for gender equality at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. seemed like an open and shut case—until a loophole in the law denied her justice.Visit us at
Millennials are blamed for disrupting a lot of industries, from cereal to soap, and now they're wreaking havoc on the jewelry industry. Customers today want timeless pieces that aren't so expensive they require a down payment, and they want to be able to collect items that can be customized into a truly personal look. In addition, they're browsing jewelry online and designing unique pieces. And young consumers are waiting longer to get married -- putting a dent in the engagement ring category -- and increasingly considering lab-made diamonds and other stones. These trends have put mainstream players like Signet's Zales, Kay and Jared in a tough spot. Lindsey Rupp and Kim Bhasin take a look at the changing trends in the industry and talk with New York startups Rebe and Catbird about what might be coming next.
The business of slimming has gained serious weight. From Soul Cycle to Lululemon, people are focused on getting fit -- and shelling out significant cash in the process. But just how big is the fitness economy? Are we in a fitness bubble? Join us as Jenny and Lindsey dig into the business side of this cultural phenomenon. Guests include Bloomberg New York Bureau Chief Jason Kelly, who chronicled this world in his book, “Sweat Equity: Inside the New Economy of Mind and Body”; Tom Cortese, co-founder and chief operating officer of Peloton; and Rohan Gunatillake, founder and director of Buddhify.
In the first episode of The Pay Check, we go deep on pay discrimination. Host Rebecca Greenfield tells us about an equal pay fight in her own family. We take you inside a gender discrimination case against Goldman Sachs that’s been unfolding for over a decade. And we look at how companies magically make their pay gaps disappear—without actually paying women more.
Where does a medical cure come from? 100 years ago, it wasn't uncommon for scientists to test medicines by taking a dose themselves. As medical technologies get cheaper and more accessible, patients and DIY tinkerers are trying something similar—and mainstream medicine is racing to catch up. Prognosis explores the leading edge of medical advances, and asks who gets—or should get—access to them. We look at how innovation happens, when it fails, and what it means to the people with a disease trying to feel better, live longer, or avoid death.
For decades, the experience of buying groceries has remained much the same — and stayed largely immune to tech disruption. But that may be about to change. Amazon's bid for Whole Foods shows that it's determined to revolutionize the way Americans buy their groceries. Jenny and guest host Craig Giammona talk with grocery experts about how stores are already changing — and the challenge that Amazon faces in charting a new future for the industry.
Jenny and Lindsey are taking a vacation.
What’s the most sure-fire way to get a flight upgrade? How can you find the best, secret local restaurants by asking just one question? What's the first thing you should do when you get into a hotel room? On Bloomberg's new podcast Travel Genius, we'll give you those answers—and plenty more—as hosts Nikki Ekstein and Mark Ellwood quiz the world’s most experienced globetrotters for their tried-and-true travel hacks. Listen weekly, and even your work trips will go from a necessary evil to an expert art form. Plus, you'll be padding out your bucket list with dreams of amazing future vacations. 
The holiday season is almost upon us. But these days it feels as if we're always celebrating. When it's not Halloween or Thanksgiving or Christmas, it's Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, National Margarita Day, National Siblings Day or National Pet Day. Companies have even created their own corporate holidays to get in on the action, such as Black Friday or Amazon Prime Day. This week, Jenny and Lindsey dig into a phenomenon they call celebration inflation. People may be skipping the mall these days, but they're happy to shop if it means snapping the perfect Instagram picture or throwing a "Pinterest perfect" party. We're spending more on events, whether they're nationally recognized days or other celebrations such as birthdays, weddings and bachelorette parties. Jenny and Lindsey explore the growing industry surrounding celebrations to find out why our partying patterns have changed and who is benefiting.
Can companies be shamed into closing the pay gap? A new law in the U.K. requires companies with more than 250 employees to publicly disclose their gender pay gaps. More than 10,000 companies reported by the April deadline, revealing differences in median pay of as much as 60 percent in some extreme cases. Now it’s up to companies to decide what, if anything, to do about that. This week, Suzi Ring talks to one company that reported a wide gap, and how that’s changing the way it hires and pays women. Then, Claire Suddath tells us about a different pay gap law in Iceland, how that came to be and if it’s working.
The holidays are upon us, and with them a shopping season that can make or break a struggling retailer. Yet bankruptcy doesn't always mean the end. Many struggling chains linger well past their expiration dates and others find second lives under new ownership. The deciding factor is the strength of the brand. Join us as Lindsey and Jenny explain the bankruptcy process -- and why some brands survive while others don't. Jamie Salter tells us why he bought Aeropostale, the teen apparel chain, four months after it filed for bankruptcy in May. Bazillion Points book publisher Ian Christe describes his conflict with Borders, the bookseller that went out of business in 2011. Ryan Cotton, a managing director at Bain Capital Private Equity, explores what sets successful brands apart, while Bloomberg's Lauren Coleman-Lochner breaks down the mechanics of filing for bankruptcy.
On this new show from Bloomberg, hosts Mike Regan and Sarah Ponczek speak with expert guests each week about the main themes influencing global markets. They explore everything from stocks to bonds to currencies and commodities, and how each asset class affects trading in the others. Whether you’re a financial professional or just a curious retirement saver, What Goes Up keeps you apprised of the latest buzz on Wall Street and what the wildest movements in markets will mean for your investments. 
Last month, fashion lovers got a taste of what's going to be in this spring as designers and models took to runways from New York to London to Paris and Milan. But as customers look for instant gratification and retailers rush to get clothes on shelves faster, is New York Fashion Week as relevant and agenda-setting as it once was? Lindsey Rupp and Alex Barinka talk with Xcel Brands Chief Executive Officer Bob D'Loren, retail consultant Gabriella Santaniello, and Tricia Smith, the head of women's merchandising at Nordstrom.
Material World is taking a look at the basics -- underwear. Technology and innovation has infiltrated the rest of your closet. Now, entrepreneurs say it's time to upgrade your underwear drawer. There's plenty to pick from: The global men's underwear market is expected to expand to $11 billion in 2020 from $8.4 billion in 2015, according to Persistence Market Research. That 31 percent jump dwarfs the expected 14 percent growth in the overall men's apparel market to $33 billion in 2020, according to Edited. Jenny and Lindsey talk with the founders of My Pakage and Tommy Johns, mens' brands, and Thinx, the so-called period underwear, to explore trends driving this market. Plus, they host a consumer-expert panel to find out if the new products actually live up to the hype.
More than ever, people want the stuff they buy to be hand-crafted. Lindsey and Jenny discuss why that is and what that means for big and small businesses. Is ``craft'' simply a meaningless marketing word? Is the movement dying now that big companies are trying to get a piece of the action? Can people tell the difference between ``artisanal'' and generic? The musicians behind the Hanson Brothers Beer Company explain why this is just the beginning of the craft revolution. Bloomberg Reporter Craig Giammonna spells out why for big companies, the race is on to think small. And the founder of Ample Hills Creamery talks about what it takes to grow into a successful business while staying true to the ice cream parlor's Brooklyn roots.
Hosts Lindsey Rupp and Jenny Kaplan are talking patriotic marketing. In an Olympic and election year, consumers have been overwhelmed with red, white and blue. Budweiser actually branded its iconic beer "America" during the summer. Do these ploys attract buyers? What about items that are made in America? For more insight the hosts talk with Wrangler Jeans, Bloomberg reporter Shannon Pettypiece on Wal-Mart and Budweiser.
Adam Neumann had a vision: to make his startup WeWork a wildly successful company that would change the world. He convinced thousands of other people -- customers, employees, investors -- that he could make that dream a reality. And for a while, he did. He was one of the most successful startup founders in the world. But then, in the span of just a few months, everything changed.Foundering is a new serialized podcast from the journalists at Bloomberg Technology. This season, we’ll tell you the story of WeWork, a company that captured the startup boom of the 2010s and also may be remembered as a spectacular bust that marked the end of an era.Foundering premieres June 25, 2020. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen.
Jenny and Lindsey explore what Trump's campaign to revive domestic manufacturing means at the mall. Some companies, including Knot Standard, the custom suit-maker that dressed the younger male Trumps for the inauguration, say the U.S. doesn't have the technological infrastructure or employee knowhow to get the job done. Others, such as hoodie-maker American Giant, say that's baloney. Either way, after a decade of plummeting prices, shoppers may need to prepare themselves to spend more on the clothes they've been coveting.
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Podcast Details

May 23rd, 2016
Latest Episode
Jan 14th, 2020
Release Period
No. of Episodes
Avg. Episode Length
23 minutes

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