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: 30 Oct 2017
What do you fancy for lunch today?
Do you want your usual lunch or would you like something a bit different?
A survey by New Covent Garden Soup found that office workers tended to show a complete lack of imagination when it came to lunch with most of those surveyed choosing the same lunch as they had yesterday.
More than 75% of workers who were surveyed had eaten the same meal for lunch for the past 9 months.
The most common lunches were sandwiches with the top 3 being ham in first place followed by cheese and then chicken. In 4th place was salad.
Yep, three quarters of people had eaten the same sandwich for 9 months.
In what was without a doubt, not a surprise, over 80% of respondents to the survey said they were “bored” with lunch.
Becky Spelman, a psychologist said that “eating the same thing every day means we risk not getting a wide enough array of nutrients, as well as simply being very monotonous. Making small changes, such as trying something new for our lunchtime meal, can – in a small way – help to open our minds to new experiences in other areas of life too.”
In summary, if you’re heading out to buy your lunch now and you’ve been eating the same ham sandwich for the last 9 months then maybe you could go for something dramatically different like a tuna sandwich instead…
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: 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: 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
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: 21 Feb 2017
Nowadays more and more children are eating at restaurants with their parents. Whilst this can be great for the restaurateur, there can also be problems.
On the positive side, allowing children into restaurants with their parents should bring more family customers into the restaurant but on the negative side, if the children misbehave or run around causing chaos then some customers will be put off spending time in the restaurant.
If you head to a child friendly restaurant such as the fast food giant McDonalds then you would expect children to be children and to be loud, excitable and bouncing around.
But what about if you run an upmarket, select restaurant with clientele who are looking for a quiet time to relax over a good quality meal and fine wines. Boisterous children could damage the image and banning children from the restaurant would be a bit extreme.
Antonio Ferrari, the owner of an upmarket restaurant in Padua, Italy has come up with a novel approach to encouraging good behaviour amongst the junior member of families visiting for a meal.
He has introduced a “polite children discount” which offers 5% off of the bill if children are well behaved.
The Times newspaper quoted Mr Ferrari saying “We are not set up for kids – we have no crèche, the spaces are tight, bottles can be knocked over and we have a clientele that spends a bit of money to be tranquil while eating well.”
Has it been a success?
Well, one thing’s for sure and the discount hasn’t been offered that often.
In the 6 months the scheme has been active, there have only been 3 occasions the polite children discount has been offered.
Published on: 01 Feb 2017
Traditional retailers are facing a lot of challenges nowadays.
If you’re selling items from a shop for example you’re facing the challenge of the ever-increasing number of people buying things online. Small retailers can find it hard to compete with the big players like Amazon who have the advantages of economy of scale and brand awareness.
In addition, some products are tricky to deliver.
Take wine for example. If you order a bottle or box of wine online and it’s delivered to you at home, what’s going to happen if you’re not in?
What’s going to happen to that box of wine if it’s left by your doorstep or with your thirsty alcoholic neighbour?
Garcon Wines, a London based vintner has come up with a novel approach to overcome this problem. They have introduced a wine subscription service which delivers wine in specially designed bottles which can be posted through the letter box.
The plastic bottles are long and slim, and come in post-box friendly sizes so after a hard day at the office you can return home and find that bottle of wine you’ve been looking for.
Admittedly, finding the wine in a plastic bottle in a cardboard box which has been posted through the letter box and is on the floor isn’t quite the same as being poured a nice glass of wine whilst relaxing in the sunshine on holiday but changing the packaging design to help with distribution is a nice idea by Garcon Wines.
I’m sure a lot of people will drink to that.