Published on: 10 Sep 2017
The Journal of Consumer Research published the results of five experiments into how the level of background noise can impact on performance when someone is working on creative tasks.
The results are interesting and in simple terms found that a moderate level of ambient noise is better for enhancing performance on creative tasks than both low levels and high levels of ambient noise.
Or put another way, people are more likely to be able to work creatively if there is a medium level of ambient noise compared to where there is silence or loud noise in the background.
So, what lessons can we learn from this if we’re studying?
Whilst the optimum situation and level of background noise is very much a personal preference the science behind it could indicate that we should head somewhere with a mid level background noise.
Now, where could we find such a place?
Well, the local pub around the corner has a great mid level background noise as far as I’m concerned but there are some liquid distractions that will harm studying.
What about a coffee shop or cafe? Again, there would be some great mid levels of background noise but you’ve got to get there and what happens if you don’t find a seat. All of this will dig into your valuable study time.
Well, up step the fantastic website coffitivity.com which enables you to play background coffeeshop noise on your computer whilst you’re studying.
You can’t order a Cafe Latte or Cappuccino but in my opinion it’s a great tool for those who like to study with a non intrusive background noise.
It’s also excellent for people who don’t have any friends to go to the coffee shop with.
Published on: 08 Oct 2014
Picture the scene. It’s the first night of your honeymoon. You’ve just married a beautiful Italian Signorina called Marianna.You’re Italian and Italian men have a reputation for being some of the most romantic men in the world.
Now, even though some may say this reputation has largely been self created, there are still certain things you should do on your honeymoon and certain things you should definitely not do on your honeymoon.
Due to Italian privacy laws the individuals concerned can only be identified by their Christian names but what did Stefano do on his honeymoon that led to his new wife divorcing him one month into their marriage?
From a project management point of view there are various tools and techniques that can be used to ensure a project runs smoothly. One of these is to ensure that the team is made up of the right type of person as well as the appropriate number of people.
A well known theory behind what makes a good team is Belbin’s team role models.
In simple terms, Belbin’s theory says that people are born with certain characteristics. Belbin gave names to the different types of people. For example, a “plant” is a person that likes to come up with ideas and is usually quite creative. A “Monitor Evaluator” is somebody with a logical eye who can make impartial judgements.
Back to the one month marriage though and Stefano decided that rather than the traditional 2 person project team that goes on the majority of honeymoons he would make his a 3 person team.
To his wife’s understandable annoyance, Stefano’s 3 person honeymoon team included himself, his new wife and his mother.
The project team first started showing signs of a split when the mother-in-law turned up at the airport for the flight to the honeymoon destination of Paris.
A honeymoon in Paris sounds great until you realise that your mother-in-law is staying in an adjoining room at the hotel you’re staying at and accompanying you to every meal and romantic boat trip along the Seine.
One month after the wedding and Marianna left the marriage home they shared in Rome and returned to her home town of Naples leaving the 39 year old Stefano without a wife.
Maybe Marianna is more of a Belbin’s “Completer Finisher” than Stefan and his mum may have thought.
Published on: 04 Oct 2014
When it comes to cars, things used to be simple. Most brands were known for a certain type of car.
For example, Mercedes produced luxury limousine cars, Porsche produced sports cars, Toyota produced mid range cars and Land Rover made 4×4 off road cars.
But that was a while ago and things have changed dramatically within the car industry.
The famous Maserati sports car brand for example is working on the Maserati Kubang and as the photo shows it’s clearly not a low slung sports car.
It’s a 4×4 off-roader and whilst there’s a good chance that the only time it will actually go off road is when the owner parks on the pavement it’s definitely more 4×4 than sportscar.
So why the introduction of the new product? (For those of you studying the various strategy papers then why the product development in Ansoff’s Matrix?)
Well it seems that they are hoping to follow in the footsteps of Porsche whose off road Cayenne model has proved to be a best seller.
As well as introducing new types of cars the car industry has also seen a number of major conglomerates appear with some serious car brands within them.
When people used to talk about Volkswagen for example they were generally referring to the ubiquitous VW golf but the Volkswagen Group is now home to far more cars than VW cars.
The VW Group with its headquarters in Germany is the largest carmaker in Europe and nearly one in four new cars bought in Europe are VW Group cars.
So does this mean that 25% of the new cars have VW badges on them?
Far from it in fact as the following car brands are all part of the Volkswagen Group:
Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Scania, SEAT, Skoda and of course Volkswagen.
So all of the above car makes are in fact part of the VW group.
Now if you’re an executive working for the VW Group and were offered a company car which one would you choose.
Now let me think.
Bugatti or Lamborghini. Which one would I go for…
Published on: 25 Aug 2014
It is estimated that over 400 Kit Kat fingers are consumed every second worldwide and every 5 minutes enough Kit Kat fingers are produced to out stack the Eiffel Tower.
Whilst most people associate Kit Kat with its red wrapper alongside the classic wafer and chocolate taste, Nestlé actually segment the market rather nicely in a number of countries. They produce a range of flavours which are only available in certain countries according to local tastes. In simple terms they are dividing the market (segmenting) and then adjusting the marketing mix accordingly.
In Japan for example, Nestlé recently launched 19 new flavours. These flavours reflect the food specialities of certain districts and are only sold in these specific districts.
Different flavours are available in other countries (segments). For example, peanut butter flavour can be bought in Canada.
Now, originating from Scotland where my favourite dish was crispy cod and chips my obvious question to Nestlé is:
“When will a fish and chip flavoured Kit Kat be released in Scotland?”
I feel it’s only a matter of time so if any marketing executives from Nestlé are reading this then over to you…
Published on: 20 Jul 2014
The Tune Hotel chain has just opened up its first hotel in the UK. The chain already has 7 hotels in Malaysia and 2 in Indonesia and they claim they offer 5 star beds at 1 star prices.
Their policy is to offer the essentials that people look for in a hotel such as safety, cleanliness and comfortable beds whilst at the same time removing a number of “extras” that some customers don’t necessarily want.
With rooms starting at £35 it certainly offers great value for London hotels. It wouldn’t suit everyone’s taste though as some of the things that people take for granted at a hotel are not included in the standard price.
There are a number of optional extras that guests can purchase. A towel for example can be provided for £1.50 per stay whilst the use of a hairdryer will set you back £2. If you want to watch TV you’ll need to pay £3 a day.
If you’re the type of person that likes to take your own towel to a hotel or is relaxed about whether or not you wash then you could end up with a very cheap room.
Whilst this hotel wouldn’t be everyone’s “cup of tea” (incidentally there are no coffee or tea making facilities in the rooms) there will certainly be a market for people that only want a clean and safe hotel room to sleep in and are not bothered about the extras.
In the past we’ve blogged about the BMI Weymouth hospital that was adopting a differentiation approach to business. With Tunes Hotels adopting a hospitality industry equivalent to the low cost airline models of Easy Jet and Ryan Air, this is a great example of either a cost leadership approach or Bowman’s no-frills strategy.
Guests can rest assured though that toilet paper is included in the price and is not an optional extra.
Published on: 25 Apr 2014
I’m lucky enough to be teaching in Asia at the moment. The students are great and I’m convinced they will pass their exams (if any of them are reading this then good luck in the exam!)
I’m staying at a lovely hotel and this morning in the shower I was reminded of marketing and the 4 Ps. The shower gel that is provided by the hotel is a well known international brand and I’ve bought it myself before.
What was different about it though when comparing the product (one of the 4 Ps) as purchased by the hotel and the product when purchased by me as an individual? The aroma and texture was exactly the same whereas the packaging was different. The key difference being how the packaging was designed in terms of the ease with which the gel could be poured.
Whether it was me but the version I personally bought appeared to dispense the gel a lot quicker than the hotel version. The hotel version took a lot more effort to get the gel out.
It’s maybe my imagination but if the design of the packaging that is on the public product is in fact different then it would encourage me to use it up quickly and buy a replacement. The packaging on the version that the hotel was using however would “discourage” guests from using a lot of gel and hence save the hotel the cost of replacing the gel as quickly as with the “standard public packaging”.
I’m not sure whether this was a deliberate policy of the shower gel manufacturer but if it wasn’t then maybe they should be considering it…
Published on: 06 Feb 2014
…wear a tie.
Japan is famous for the long hours that some of their office workers undertake but there is now an invention that will maybe ease things a little bit for hardworking office staff.
A new tie called “Nemuri Tie” is now on sale in Japan.
Nemuri Tie means pillow tie in Japanese and if the advertising is anything to go by it will enable hard pressed office workers to grab a quick sleep at their desk.
It’s a relatively simple design in that it’s a normal looking tie but it’s got an inflatable pillow in it which can be blown up to provide a handy place to rest your head when you fancy a nap.
It can be inflated when the user is wearing it so there’s no need to keep on taking your tie off and putting it back on every time you fancy a sleep.
The Sleep Tie is currently on sale for just under £20.
It’s not clear whether the tie is stain proof for anyone that dribbles in their sleep.
Published on: 03 Feb 2014
My new year’s resolution was to get back into jogging. My friends never believe me but a couple of years ago I even managed a half marathon but unfortunately work and my like for food meant that the weight went on and the exercise took a back seat. On 1 January this year I made a resolution to get back to exercise. It’s nearly the end of February and the good news is that I’ve kept it up so far!
So much so in fact that I’m in need of some new running shoes. I’ve used Asics shoes for years but this evening had a quick look at the Nike site to see what was there.
Being an accountant though I couldn’t resist having a look at the site for some other information rather than just the latest products.
Back in the 1990s Nike was in the news for a number of wrong reasons. There were reports that some of their suppliers were allegedly paying their employees a pittance and some were working in sweatshop conditions. A BBC report also uncovered child labour practices at one of their suppliers in Cambodia.
Supply chain management is key to any successful business. Nike, as one of the world’s leading brands had to act fast to ensure that their brand wasn’t damaged by the bad publicity. They acted quickly and by all accounts resolved any issues that may have been present with their suppliers.
What is interesting though is that in today’s business environment the supply chain is no longer “hidden away” but is now arguably used to prove “best practice”. Nike have not only ensured compliance with best practice but have an “open book” policy on their website where you can find out comprehensive details of their CSR activities. Have a look here and there’s all you’d want to know about Nike’s CSR policies.
Now of course, I should really get off the computer, stop eating biscuits and get out there running…
Published on: 29 Sep 2013
Picture the scene. You’re the boss. You’re married and you find your assistant very attractive. Your wife finds out about this and demands that you fire your assistant.
a) Tell your wife that you don’t like your assistant and hope she believes you,
b) Admit it and then ask you assistant to leave and pay her a fair termination payment, or
c) Fire your assistant because she was an “irresistible attraction”?
Bizarrely enough, a court in the US state of Iowa has just unanimously ruled that it is legal to fire employees if they are seen as an “irresistible attraction” even if the employee hasn’t done anything wrong.
The background to the case was that lawyers for 53 year old Dentist James Knight argued that he fired his 32 year old assistant to save his marriage and that this did not represent discrimination.
In other words, he didn’t discriminate against his employee because she was good looking but rather it was in the interest of saving his marriage.
I can’t help thinking that maybe the dentist and his wife got the better deal out of this compared to his assistant as the background to the case was that the dentist had worked with his (attractive) assistant for 10 years but his wife only found out about some “personal texts” between the two of them towards the end of the 10 years.
After the texts were discovered the dentist then complained to his wife that he found his assistant’s clothing too tight and distracting (an interesting point to note here is that he didn’t complain to his wife about this for 10 years until his wife found the text messages but hey ho let’s just move on).
So, in summary a 53 year old man found a 21 year younger woman attractive. His wife found out and to save the marriage the younger employee had to go.
Rather than make a reasonable termination payment it was decided to fire the younger woman because she was too attractive!
The fired employee then took the case to court where in the opinion of probably a lot of people a bizarre decision was made by the court that this did not represent discrimination and was acceptable.
So, in Iowa it looks like it’s acceptable to fire a lady if she’s too attractive.
Oh and in case you’re interested, the decision was made by Iowa’s high court which contains only men and not women…
Published on: 26 Sep 2013
Having a motivated team in the office is key to any business. As well as a salary component, a person’s remuneration package could include other benefits such as flexible working days, health insurance and access to an executive jet.
I mentioned access to an executive jet because surely all of you have got regular access to the company jet to whisk you off to exotic places??
Bloomberg has reported on a Philadelphia lawsuit by a former pilot of the fashion giant Abercrombie & Fitch’s corporate jet.
To cut a long story short, the 55 year old former employee is claiming that he was discriminated against when he was replaced by a younger man.
As will soon become apparent, my guess is that he may well have been replaced by not only a younger man but by a better looking younger man.
It’s been reported that according to papers submitted to the court, Michael Jeffries, the chief executive of Abercrombie & Fitch insisted that models were hired to work as stewards on the plane.
models stewards had to be clean shaven and wear a uniform of Abercrombie & Fitch polo shirts, boxer briefs, jeans and flip flops.
As well as insisting on male models being stewards it also claimed that if Jeffries, his partner Matthew or any other guest made a request they should respond by saying “no problem”.
The other thing which I personally think should be a benefit provided to all employees is that Jeffries was also able to take his 3 dogs with him on the jet and there were even detailed instructions on the seating arrangements for his dogs when they travelled with him.
So there you go. The next time you’re discussing your annual review in the office feel free to say that as well as salary, healthcare, and flexible working arrangements you want access to the company jet with male or female models of your choice employed as stewards or stewardesses on the plane.
Oh, and don’t forget to insist on jet travel for your 3 dogs…