Published on: 24 Sep 2017
Did you have anything for breakfast this morning before you headed to work?
If I’d asked that question a few years ago the chances are that the reply would have been positive and brought back nice memories of what had been eaten earlier at home.
Things are changing though and according to a recent study for the Grocer magazine, nearly half of those surveyed who were between 16 and 34 skipped breakfast altogether. Even those who had breakfast were only likely to grab a croissant from a coffee shop on the way to the office or eat a breakfast biscuit.
The report said that “Millennials may be more clued up to food and health trends than older generations, but in terms of traditional breakfast there are empty seats at the table”.
Whilst skipping breakfast isn’t necessarily that good for your health, there are also financial health consequences for companies who produce breakfast cereals. In the UK, sales of cereal over the last 12 months are down by £40 million.
A number of companies are trying to regain some of these lost sales though.
Weetabix Limited, the company that produces yes, you guessed it… Weetabix, are now producing biscuits, bars and breakfast drinks that can be consumed on the go or taken to work to be eaten.
Weetabix has been made in the UK since 1932 but in 2012 was sold to Shanghai-based Bright Food.
Bright Food had hoped that as part of the general trend to more western eating habits in China, eating cereals would become more popular. Whilst sales of Weetabix have increased in China, the market share was disappointing as the traditional rice and steamed bread maintained their popularity for the first meal of the day.
Weetabix has now changed hands and was purchased by the US company Post Holdings for $1.7bn (£1.3bn).
Post Holdings already own the Shredded Wheat and Bran Flakes brands so the acquisition of Weetabix seems a good fit.
Back to breakfast on the go though and if you’re one of those people who struggle to get out of bed in the morning and miss breakfast then look on the bright side, if you’re getting into the office late then at least you’re closer to lunchtime.
Published on: 19 Sep 2017
Are you happy when you spend money? I guess the answer depends on what you’re spending the money on but over in China, KFC have just introduced technology which enables a person to pay for their KFC meal with a smile.
Yes, a smile.
Nothing else is needed – no bank card, no phone app. Just a smile.
That’s a pretty advanced system and involves facial recognition technology.
Customers who want to get their dose of fast food at the KFC branch in Hangzhou can leave their cash and cards behind and instead smile at a scanner, press confirm and then hey presto you’ve paid for your meal without moving your hands and you will soon be tucking into your Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Payment is taken from a cash account which has been linked to the person’s face.
China has some of the most advanced facial scanning technology in the world. Collecting images of the public doesn’t need any consent in China and the technology is likely to spread.
For example, it’s been reported that students in several universities in China are now registering by scanning their faces and lecturers will soon be able to track the facial expressions of students to see how well they are following the lectures.
It may be advisable for these students to master the act of hiding those yawns during a boring lecture and instead start to practice for the KFC they’re planning to get after the lecture…
Published on: 09 Aug 2017
If you buy a Chelsea or Manchester United football shirt and it turns out to be a fake it can be annoying but if you buy medicines and they turn out to be fakes it could be a lot worse as it could kill you.
Illegal copies and fakes of products are one of the big problems facing businesses today (£300 billion is the estimated size of the global counterfeit market) but some scientists have recently developed what they believe could be a cheap solution to the problem.
The technology is currently being developed by a company called Quantum Base and in simple terms involves placing an extremely small microdot onto the product which gives off a unique light signature.
The microdot is really small and I do mean really small – it’s a tiny flake of atoms which is a thousandth of the width of a human hair. Not only will it be impossible for a human to see but it will be unique. The flake of atoms which will make up the microdot will be unique and cannot be cloned. They will be placed on the product at the production facilities and then the atomic structures will be recorded on a database.
The technique for preventing fake products is that when an individual buys a product such as medicine or designer clothes they can scan their phone over the label and an app on their phone will identify the light source from the atomic structure on the microdot and send it to the database to confirm whether or not it is on the database.
If it is on the database, it’s genuine. If it’s not, it’s fake.
An excellent way of identifying whether the product you are buying is real or fake.
As mentioned, the technology is still be developed and made ready for the market by Quantum Base but it looks very promising in terms of helping to eradicate the problem of fake products.
Published on: 06 Aug 2017
How do you make $1 billion in 4 years?
Well, the answer is fairly straight forward if you come up with a good idea and have some good friends.
I guess it also helps if you are the famous actor George Clooney…
Mr Clooney and two of his friends – Rande Gerber (the husband of super model Cindy Crawford) and Mike Meldman the property tycoon – reportedly used to play golf together and had properties on a golf development called Casamigos (meaning House of Friends in English).
Playing golf wasn’t the only thing that they did together as friends as they also used to drink tequila. The problem was that they found that the tequila they drank was of mixed quality. Some was good but at the other extreme some was pretty bad.
It was reported that Mr Clooney suggested that they create their own tequila which “didn’t burn going down, that was super smooth and … that we could drink all day long and not be hungover in the morning”.
As a result of that idea, back in 2013 they set up a business producing Casamigos tequila and it’s done pretty well. So well in fact that the drinks giant Diageo has purchased the business for $1 billion split between a $700 million initial payment and $300 million over the next 10 years depending on performance.
Given that only 120,000 cases of the Casamigos tequila were sold last year, that’s a big figure but Diageo are obviously looking to scale up sales it up to a global audience (so far Casamigos has been targeted at the North American market).
Either way, it’s a good return for Mr Clooney and his friends and I’m sure they toasted the sale with a shot or two of tequila.
Then again, maybe they decided to celebrate with champagne and we’ll see a George Clooney champagne in a few years’ time…
Published on: 17 Jul 2017
Roger Federer became arguably the greatest ever male tennis player when he won a record 8th Wimbledon title by beating Marin Cilic but did you see what he was wearing?
Now, I’m not talking about his shoes, shorts or top but rather something less associated with the sport of tennis.
Sponsorship is big business for the top sports stars and as far as Mr Federer goes he’s doing pretty well when it comes to sponsorship. Forbes named him as the world’s highest paid tennis player last year when his prize winnings and sponsorship deals earned him over £50 million.
Winning Wimbledon was a good opportunity for Federer to add to his earnings (the prize money for winning Wimbledon was £2.2 million this year) but it was also a good opportunity for the sponsors to be associated with such a successful person (and of course hope that people will buy more of their products!)
Federer has a number of sponsors ranging from Nike to Credit Suisse but back to what he was wearing though and did you notice the watch that he wasn’t wearing during the match but was wearing when he was presented with the trophy?
Another of his sponsors is the Swiss Watch Manufacturer Rolex and after Federer won the match he quickly put his £6,000 Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust II onto his wrist before the presentation.
The end result was no doubt a very happy Rolex company whose watch was on the front pages of all the newspapers.
Some great publicity for the company.
Will we see this trend for tennis players putting designer watches on before they are presented with a trophy expand to other sports?
Will we see the captain of the winning team at next year’s football World Cup wearing a watch when he lifts the trophy??
Published on: 12 Jul 2017
Do you have a phone?
My guess is that most of you own a mobile phone.
Now, if you look at your phone is it a Vertu branded phone?
Most of you will own a Samsung, Apple or Nokia. Some of these phones aren’t cheap – the latest top of the range Apple iPhone for example retails at over £900.
But if you’re holding a Vertu branded phone then the chances are that it cost a lot more than the top of the range iPhone.
Some of the Vertu range of phones were on sale for £40,000 a few years ago. That’s a lot of money for a phone. It was a luxury brand aimed at ultra-high net worth individuals who would be willing to spend more than the cost of a new Porsche Cayman sports car on a phone.
Perhaps surprisingly it did rather well a few years ago. In 2007, it generated £150 million of sales.
Perhaps unsurprisingly though, there weren’t that many individuals with “more money than sense” who were willing to pay that amount of money for a phone. The company has had a rough ride over recent years as it’s hard to justify paying £40,000 for a phone that has been criticised in a number of areas. The Financial Times were quoted for example as saying the Vertu phones were “technologically modest”.
After originally being set up by Nokia in the 1990s with the strategic aim of building a niche market of hand made luxury phones it was sold to a Hong Kong hedge fund manager for €45 million in 2015.
In March of this year it was then sold to a Turkish businessman for €1 (he agreed to take on the company’s debt of €13 million as part of the deal).
Unfortunately though things have got worse and the company has recently gone into receivership after running out of money to pay staff and suppliers.
An interesting case study which appears to prove that being expensive by itself isn’t sufficient to make a differentiation strategy successful.
Published on: 22 Jun 2017
One of life’s great mysteries for men when they are at a bar or club is why women always seem to go to the ladies “powder room” in groups.
There could soon be an equally mysterious occurrence that women will puzzle over and that is why men will soon disappear to the “gents” together during a social evening out.
Well, it won’t be to adjust their makeup or to catch up on the local gossip.
No, if UK company Captive Media has anything to do with it the visits to the toilet by men could soon be a great marketing opportunity.
It’s been estimated that on a night out a man spends on average 55 seconds relieving himself each time he visits the urinals in the gents (if you ever saw a person with a clipboard and a stopwatch behind you at the urinals now you know why…)
In the eyes of Captive Media this represents a great advertising opportunity as rather than staring blankly at the wall in front of you (or telling the person with the clipboard and stopwatch to go away) they have developed a urinal-based games console which allows men to, how can we say it but aim and shoot at targets with their “stream”.
The games are mixed with adverts and include for example a downhill skiing game which is controlled by your “stream”.
It remains to be seen what products will be advertised in this way but one thing for sure ladies is that if your boyfriend or husband returns from the gents whilst you’re out together on a social evening and he says that he’s just beaten his personal best then you know what it refers to.
Published on: 16 Jun 2017
“Smoothie drinks” have become very fashionable over recent years.
Smoothies are drinks made out of crushed fruit and are seen as a healthy alternative to carbonated drinks such as Coke or Pepsi.
Perhaps the most famous smoothie manufacturer in the UK is Innocent Smoothies. The business was set up in 1999 by three friends who famously gave up their jobs to start the business after they invested £500 on fruit and turned it into smoothies and sold them at a music festival. The business has grown since then and been a true success story.
The brand has a “quirky, playful” image as well as promoting itself to be ethically aware (it donates 10% of its profits to charity).
So, what has Coca-Cola got to do with all of this? Porter’s 5 Forces strategy model is well known to students of professional exams. See our free ExPress notes for more details but one of the forces concerns “substitute products”.
If a 5 forces analysis is done on for example the traditional Coca-Cola carbonated drink then a substitute product would be a smoothie. There is a general trend in a lot of countries towards healthier living and the threat of a substitute product such as a smoothie could be seen as a threat.
In 2009 Coca-Cola bought an 18% stake in Innocent for £30 million and then in the following year increased its shareholding to 58% for a reported £65 million. They then increased their shareholding to over 90% for an undisclosed sum. From a Porter’s 5 forces point of view this is a good move as it means that one of the substitute products is now within the Coke family.
There has been a fair amount of discussion since the aquisition about whether Innocent is still the ethical likeable “under dog” that it was given that it is now part of one of the biggest companies in the world.
One thing is for sure though and whilst it was certainly an Innocent transaction it was also definitely a well thought out strategic acquisition.
Published on: 16 Jun 2017
A good friend of mine collect labels from beer bottles. As he travels around the world on holiday or business he collect labels from bottles of the local beer.
I think it’s a nice idea as it is a unique souvenir of where he’s visited, it’s relatively cheap and perhaps most importantly it gives him a great excuse to try out some local beers.
Things may be about to become more difficult for him though as a number of beer producers seem to be changing their marketing mix to save money and (some would argue) make the bottles look more fashionable.
As a lot of readers will appreciate, the marketing mix is also known as the 4Ps (Product, Price, Place, Promotion). If you look at the product component of the mix then not only does it include the beer itself but it also includes the packaging. This packaging in turn includes bottles (both glass and plastic) as well as cans.
Drinking some bottles of beer during a recent evening out with friends at a restaurant got the accountant in me thinking about what it costs to create the bottle that holds the beer.
Well if you think about it the raw materials that go into the bottle are glass (for the bottle) and metal (for the top) together with paper and glue for the label.
How can you reduce the cost of the packaging?
Can you reduce the quantity or quality of the glass? This would be tricky as the bottle could break.
What about the top? Again, this is awkward as you don’t want the beer to suddenly start leaking from the top of the bottle.
That leaves the paper and glue for the label and what a number of manufacturers now appear to be doing is producing bottles without the main label on it but instead embossing the name of the beer on the bottle itself (no additional material costs) and having the only label as a small paper “collar” around the neck of the bottle. An example of such a bottle can be seen in the image above from the successful Fosters Beer adverts in the UK.
Reducing the label size seems to make sense for bottles of beer that are sold in restaurants. After all, the label on the bottle has little impact on the purchasing decision when a person is looking at the menu or asking the waiter or waitress what beer they have. They may even know what beer they want already or can’t see the bottle anyway so the bottle wouldn’t impact on their decision.
It seems a good idea therefore for the beer companies to save money by removing the labels. Even though the paper used by one label is quite small, if you multiply that by the thousands of bottles which are sold around the world every day it could turn into a very significant saving.
What is interesting though is that if you go into a shop or supermarket that is selling beer, you will see bottles which have larger more “attention grabbing” labels on them. As people are wandering through the supermarket aisles they haven’t necessarily made up their mind whether they want to purchase a bottle of beer or if they have, what particular beer they want so having a big label which will grab their attention is a good thing.
In summary then it appears that two out of three people are happy. The accountant in the beer company is happy as production costs have been reduced due to reducing the labelling on the restaurant bottles. The marketing person is happy as he or she can use their skills on the design and thought process behind the labelling for bottles that are sold in supermarkets.
As for my friend that collect the beer bottle labels well my guess is that he may soon be unhappy as instead of trying to peel off the labels from the bottles whilst sat at a restaurant table he’s having to try to do that at the supermarket…
Published on: 22 May 2017
Do you wish you had a better memory? Perhaps you do but you can’t remember whether or not you do.
If this is the case then help may be at hand.
University researchers have recently suggested a simple technique which could improve your memory.
Dr Mark Moss from Northumbria University led a research study which found that students studying in a room with the smell of the herb rosemary (in the form of essential oils) achieved 5% to 7% better memory results than students undertaking similar studying in a room without the smell of rosemary.
Dr Moss reported that the sense of smell in humans is highly sensitive and sends messages to the brain which can set off reactions and responses.
In the case of rosemary, the smell could well result in a better memory.
This view isn’t new though as ancient Greek students used to wear garlands of rosemary in their exams and Ophelia, the young noblewoman in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet said “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.”
So, in conclusion, the next time you are studying hard for an exam it may be an idea to buy some rosemary essential oils to help your memory.
That is of course, if you can remember to buy some in the first place…
(Details of some of the work done by Northumbria University can be found here).