Published on: 05 Jan 2018
January is one of the most popular months for people looking to lose weight. New Year resolutions often revolve around getting fit or dropping a kilogram or 2.
Losing weight can be big business for companies.
Weight Watchers is one of the largest and most successful companies involved in the business of losing weight. They were founded more than 50 years ago in the living room of entrepreneur Jean Nidetch in Queens, New York and since then have grown to a huge company.
They now have over 1 million active members who attend approximately 32,000 Weight Watchers meetings around the world.
That’s a big organisation and they have just signed up a big star to help with their promotions.
The American music producer DJ Khalad is big in a number of ways.
Firstly, he is one of the largest stars on social media (he has nearly 4 million Twitter followers).
Secondly, he is large in terms that he is overweight.
DJ Khaled isn’t alone in trying to lose weight in 2018 but what makes him different is that Weight Watchers have signed him up as a social media ambassador. He will be paid an undisclosed sum to follow the new Weight Watchers Freestyle programme and will document his progress on his social media accounts.
This is obviously good news for Weight Watchers because it will be great publicity if he loses weight (we’ll ignore for now what happens if he doesn’t lose weight…).
The market also thought it was good news as the shares in Weight Watchers shot up 8% on the New York stock exchange the day his appointment was announced.
Maybe it’s best not to go out for a big meal to celebrate though…
Published on: 14 Dec 2017
There’s an interesting movement in the types of planes which the large airlines are demanding.
10 years ago, the Airbus A380 or the “Super Jumbo” as it’s known, was launched with the aim to transform the airline industry by enabling up to 868 people to fly in one plane.
But things are changing and the anticipated demand for the superjumbos hasn’t materialised. Airlines are instead preferring smaller but more efficient twin-engine planes.
The most number of A380s that Airbus produced in a year was 30 but the order book has collapsed. Last week it was reported in Euronews that Airbus are exploring plans to cut A380 production to 6 aircraft per year.
Another company that has been affected by the drop in demand for A380s is the leasing company Amedeo.
Amedeo’s business model involves them buying aircraft from the likes of Airbus and Boeing and then leasing those aircraft to airlines.
Amedeo for example has purchased four A380s from Airbus and leased them on to Emirates.
The challenge for Amedeo though is that they have eight A380s in their portfolio and have another twenty on order from Airbus. Given that the demand for A380s from airlines has dried up, that’s not particularly good news for them.
However, they have come out fighting and announced that they will be launching their own airline.
Instead of simply leasing the plane out, the new business model will involve them running things as an airline. They will offer seats to existing carriers who will provide the ticketing service but Amedeo will operate the flight using their own cabin crew.
As well as offering the flights to existing airlines, Mark Lapidus the chief executive of Amedeo raised the prospect of providing flights for potential partners such as Airbnb.
Time will tell how successful this will be but it certainly is a novel approach to trying to find a solution to what to do to address the fall in demand.
Published on: 27 Nov 2017
It may be stating the obvious but if you’re a retailer in a shopping centre you’ve more chance of making a sale if people are in the shop.
Retailers in shopping centres face a number of threats. Some of these are a more recent phenomenon (e.g. the rise of internet shopping) whilst others have been around for a number of years.
One of these threats which has been around for a while is something which I’m sure a number of our male readers can sympathise with.
Let me ask the male readers out there who are married a question – have you ever gone shopping with your wife and at the start of the shopping trip things were going well but it soon descended into a long and windy journey through shops which to the male eye looked very similar but to the female eye were all different and offered new and exciting opportunities to try new items of clothes?
With the wife enjoying every moment but the husband getting more and more frustrated it is only a matter of time until stress levels rise, an argument ensues and the shopping trip is cut short.
A number of shops have chairs for the men to sit on and magazines to read but over in China, Shanghai’s largest shopping centre has come up with a novel way of keeping men occupied so that the wives are free to shop without the husbands getting bored.
Global Harbour shopping centre has introduced “Video Caves”. These are glass booths with a comfortable chair, a games console and a large screen. Men can be left to play computer games free of charge whilst their partners can shop to their heart’s content. The booths are soundproof so the computer games won’t disturb the other shoppers.
All in all, a great idea to keep the both the “lady shopper” and the “dragged behind man” happy but is there a potential problem?
After all, if you ask a lady how easy it is to get her other half off of a computer game when he’s nearly reached his top score, will we start to see women looking bored whilst waiting for the husband to finish his video game…
Published on: 20 Nov 2017
Language schools are big business. Research from the British Council predicts that more than 1.9 billion people will be actively learning English around the world by 2020. That’s a lot of people but will a recent bit of technology result in a change in the number of people learning another language?
A small US start-up company has recently launched a translation earphone.
Waverly Labs has introduced technology that may be the first step in making the need to learn another language redundant in years to come.
They have launched a translation device which is similar to a wireless earpiece. The earpiece is linked to an app on a mobile phone and when one person speaks in for example French the words are processed by software so that the words are played back in the earpiece in another language such as English. The impressive thing is that the translation is in real time with only a few seconds lag.
The first batch of headsets will support English, French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish languages.
More languages are expected to be rolled out soon.
Whilst there are already translation devices on mobile phones such as Google Translate, the Waverly Labs product is the first that offers a discreet earpiece to translate so that a face to face conversation can be held without having to look at your mobile phone to understand what is being said.
The earpieces can be pre-ordered for $249 and could well be the first step in terms of making face to face communication between different languages a lot easier.
All in all, very nice.
Or should I say, très agréable, sehr schön, molto bella, muito agradável, muy agradable.
Published on: 21 Oct 2017
There are over 300 million twitter accounts and more than 500 million tweets are sent per day. That’s an impressive figure that works out at over 5,000 tweets per second.
It can be a useful tool for companies. They can use it to engage with their customers and potential customers by way of branding and promotional activities. They can also use it as a form of a helpdesk or customer support. The Dutch airline KLM for example uses Twitter and Facebook to enable customers to contact them and get a reply within an hour.
Most companies will use Twitter to promote items or get their message out but Twitter user @edgette22 has identified a secret the fast food giant KFC has been keeping within their Twitter account.
KFC is the world’s second-largest restaurant chain (as measured by sales) after McDonald’s, with nearly 20,000 locations globally in over 100 countries.
They also have over 1.2 million Twitter followers.
But they only follow 11 people.
And the 11 people they follow are a strange mix.
Geri Halliwell, Mel B, Emma Bunton, Mel C and Victoria Beckham (in other words the 5 ladies who made up the Spice Girls).
They also follow Herb Scribner, Herb J. Wesson Jr, Herb Waters, Herb Dean, Herb Sendek and Herb Alpert.
Or to put it another way, KFC follow five Spice Girls and 6 Herbs.
Five spices and six herbs?
That sounds familiar as the secret recipe for KFC chicken is 11 herbs and spices.
Either the social media department of KFC were having a quiet day and decided to play a few games or it was a deliberate move to get people talking about KFC when their followers were noticed.
Either way, congratulations are due to whoever was behind the idea.
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: 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.