Category Archives: economics

The Rise and Fall of Information Empires – One Facebook to rule the Internet?

My second event at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (my first was IP for Innovation and Growth) was a fascinating look at history of information monopolies and what they tell us about what might happen with the Internet – The Rise and Fall of Information Empires.

Tim WuTim Wu a professor at Columbia Law School and author of the THE MASTER SWITCH, talked about the surprising recent discovery that Bell Labs, the research arm of American telephony monopoly AT&T, had invented magnetic tape in the 1930’s, but kept it secret. It was developed as part of a telephone answering machine, but it was felt that the technology was threat to the growing use of telephones. In particular AT&T had done research to show that two thirds of telephone calls contained obscene content, so customers would stop using them if they thought they were being recorded. How and Why AT&T Killed the First Answering Machine.

At that time AT&T was the largest corporation in the world, and wanted to protect its position.

The point Tim was making was how quickly a company that was in the vanguard of introducing a revolutionary new technology, changes into a monopoly that strangles innovation it sees as a threat to its business model.

Tim explained how each of the disruptive information technologies of the Telegraph, Radio and Television, went from being open and anarchic to monopolistic within a very few years.

In the case of telephony, the thousands of phone companies which appeared initially in the United States, developed into just one player AT&T, until till eventually broken up the US government.

Radio in the US, also started with hundreds of local independent stations, but by the mid-1930’s had consolidated into just two big players.

So the question to be asked is this an inevitable part of capitalism (economic destiny), or is there something intrinsically different about the Internet which will prevent this from happening?

Certainly the origins of the Internet are different from its forebears. It was created from the outset to be resistant to central control (to be able to continue working through a nuclear war).

The technology of the internet means that new developments are constantly appearing (the first Twitter message was only sent on 21 March 2006). So this should prevent the developments of monopolies. For example MySpace has seen a mass migration of users over to Facebook.

However, there is plenty of evidence that history will repeat itself, and monopolies arise.

The simple laws of economics mean that successful companies grow, initially organically, but later on by acquisition. Customers are either drawn into this larger entity or acquired as smaller competitors are bought up.

Human nature draws us to the most successful companies, as they usually provide a better, more reliable and consistent level of service.

So perhaps we are own worst enemy, as we create monopolies with our custom. Apple is an example of customers investing in products that make computing easier, more reliable and more attractive. Apple now dominate sales of MP3 players, online music through iTunes and more recently the tablet computer market with their iPad.

During question time Tim was asked if monopolies are such a bad thing?

He explained that the usually start off well from the customer perspective, but after five or ten years things start to decline. They become anti-competitive, smothering competition, by buying it out or lobbying government for protection.

The same could be said for dictators, who often start off with popular support, but resort to ever more draconian methods to cling on to power.

At the moment, most people still see Google as a good thing, but has a clear monopoly on search.

No mechanisms exist for removing monopolies when they go wrong.

So what are the warning signs?

Tim said we should watch for companies’ innovation versus their defence. When a company spends most of their time defending their position instead of innovating, then they have probably crossed over to the dark side.

Apple, Google and Facebook are currently the leading contenders for monopoly internet positions.

Sadly we have not evolved our thinking in how to deal with monopolies, (which will naturally continue to occur), in the way we have done in the political field.

There is a danger that we have moved into an era of power without responsibility.

 

One Facebook to rule the Internet – The Rise and Fall of Information Empires

 

 

My second event at the RSA (link to IP talk???) was a fascinating look at history of information monopolies and what they tell us about what might happen with the Internet.

 

Tim Wu (???) talked about the surprising recent discovery that Bell Labs, the research arm of American telephony monopoly AT&T, had invented magnetic tape in the 1930’s, but kept it secret. It was developed as part of a telephone answering machine, but it was felt that the technology was threat to the growing use of telephones. In particular AT&T had done research to show that two thirds of telephone calls contained obscene content, so customers would stop using them if they thought they were being recorded.

 

At that time AT&T was the larges corporation in the world, and wanted to protect its position.

 

The point Tim was making was how quickly a company that was in the vanguard of introducing a revolutionary new technology, changes into a monopoly that strangles innovation it sees as a threat to its business model.

 

Tim explained how each of the disruptive information technologies of the Telegraph, Radio and Television, went from being open and anarchic to monopolistic within a very few years.

 

In the case of telephony, the thousands of phone companies which appeared initially in the United States, developed into just one player AT&T, until till eventually broken up the US government.

 

Radio in the US, also started with hundreds of local independent stations, but by the mid-1930’s had consolidated into just two big players.

 

So the question to be asked is this an inevitable part of capitalism (economic destiny), or is there something intrinsically different about the Internet which will prevent this from happening?

 

Certainly the origins of the Internet are different from its forebears. It was created from the outset to be resistant to central control (to be able to continue working through a nuclear war).

 

The technology of the internet means that new developments are constantly appearing (the first Twitter message was only sent on 21 March 2006). So this should prevent the developments of monopolies. For example MySpace has seen a mass migration of users over to Facebook.

 

However, there is plenty of evidence that history will repeat itself, and monopolies arise.

 

The simple laws of economics mean that successful companies grow, initially organically, but later on by acquisition. Customers are either drawn into this larger entity or acquired as smaller competitors are bought up.

 

Human nature draws us to the most successful companies, as they usually provide a better, more reliable and consistent level of service.

 

So perhaps we are own worst enemy, as we create monopolies with our custom. Apple is an example of customers investing in products that make computing easier, more reliable and more attractive. Apple now dominate sales of MP3 players, online music through iTunes and more recently the tablet computer market with their iPad.

 

During question time Tim was asked if monopolies are such a bad thing?

 

He explained that the usually start off well from the customer perspective, but after five or ten years things start to decline. They become anti-competitive, smothering competition, by buying it out or lobbying government for protection.

 

The same could be said for dictators, who often start off with popular support, but resort to ever more draconian methods to cling on to power.

 

At the moment, most people still see Google as a good thing, but has a clear monopoly on search.

 

No mechanisms exist for removing monopolies when they go wrong.

 

So what are the warning signs?

 

Tim said we should watch for companies’ innovation versus their defence. When a company spends most of their time defending their position instead of innovating, then they have probably crossed over to the dark side.

 

Apple, Google and Facebook are currently the leading contenders for monopoly internet positions.

 

Sadly we have not evolved our thinking in how to deal with monopolies, (which will naturally continue to occur), in the way we have done in the political field.

 

There is a danger that we have moved into an era of power without responsibility.

The growing grey market in the UK

Retired man on bench

Photo Walter Groesel - Stock.XCHNG

Last night I attended a packed Insider Trends’ talk at the Business & IP Centre. Last time the topic was How to become a cutting-edge retailer, but this time Cate Trotter the founder and Head of Trends was talking about the rise and neglecting of the over 50′s market.

As a newly minted 50+ myself (well last September anyway), I was doubly interested in what Kate had to say, and was pleasantly surprised to hear that by 2020 the over 50′s will form the majority of Britain’s population. So that makes me part of the only growth market in the UK.

Once again Kate provided an excellent talk, and left the audience pumped full of relevant statistics and marketing angles.

Here are my notes from the evening:

Untapped markets: The grey pound – Monday 24 January

Profile Marketing Opportunities

-    The population in the UK is getting older, already more +60s than -16s
-    People are living longer
-    Family sizes are shrinking
-    Number of 90 year olds expected to double in 25 years
-    78% of income retained post retirement, but loss in commuting and mortgage costs increase available money
-    +65’s spending £100 billion a year Recession
-    Older customers are better prepared for economic decline than younger
-    Many are working part-time to bring in an income Segmentation
-    Important part of understanding your customers
-    Need to add more age categories. 50-65 and 65+ are not enough
-    Need to be aware of not pigeon-hole by age – much more diverse than the younger categories, due to widely varying life experiences

-    So use lifestyle segmentation instead

  • Live Wires – active and working, many interests, technology aware, spend on holidays
  • Happy and fulfilled – active, but more traditional, financially well off, lots of holidays, spend on quality traditional brands
  • Super troopers – often have lost a spouse, don’t like advertising and new technology
  • Living day to day – spends rather than saves, more interested in material wealth than time, tend to choose premium brands
  • Unfulfilled dreamers – hard working, dreams of un-achieved ambitions,
  • Rat race junkies – could retire, but not yet, into technology, more than one marriage

-    Need to be aware of sets of baby-boomers coming through

  • Flower-children are now approaching their mid 60s
  • So interested in green such as Prius cars and green funerals
  • Believe that old age starts at 72, not 65
  • More old travellers going further afield and more adventurous
  • The SKIers – Spending Kids Inheritance

Adapting your business
-    Attitudes, physical (eyesight) and cognitive (memory) impairments
-    Over 50’s buy 80% of top of the range cars (BBC news report)
-    But many have enough mainstream products (washing machine, microwave, TV). However, they might upgrade at point of retirement with help of lump sum
-    From products to services – or service related products (e.g. sport) less equipment for the home
-    Travel

  • Generally continues until late 70’s and early 80’s
  • GrandTravellers – grandparents and their grandchildren on holiday together – something relatively new and growing
  • Travel gripes – single supplements, insurance costs, active sports insurance

-    Clothes

  • Comfortable and cool clothes lacking in the market place
  • A younger style, but to fit an older shape
  • Children’s toys and clothes as presents

-    The Home

  • Home improvement rather than new products
  • B&Q
  • Employing independent traders + reputable traders marketed towards an older customer
  • Ergonomic tools (SandBug from B&Q)
  • Packaging older people can open – %80 are not – Primelife President
  • Smaller packs and designs – one person teapots (Debenhams small wok a bestseller)

-    Home health care

  • Philips Defibrillator – talks you through
  • Retrofit-friendly homes you can grow old in – e.g. doors wide enough for a wheelchair, room for safety handles – Joseph Rowntree Foundation – www.lifetimehomes.co.uk

-    Fitness

  • Pensioners are fastest growing group of gym members
  • Scope for specialist centres
  • Zumba – very popular with older dancers

Design

-    Product and service design, also websites and fixtures and fittings
-    A lack of interest in older consumers from mainstream companies
-    Specialist

  • Simplicity computers – replaces Microsoft Windows with 6 buttons – option to pay by cheque in the post
  • Tesco online shopping has an access setting
  • Photostroller – purpose built controller to access Flickr content
  • PostEgram – a Facebook app for printing out content
  • Presto – an Internet printer with a remote control system for the sender – customer doesn’t need a computer
  • Kaiser’s in Austria – e.g. easy to reach stock, reduced glare lighting, slip-proof flooring, pleasant places to sit, reading glasses to borrow, all employers over 50 – sales 50% above forecast
  • Odeon Senior Screen – with different snacks – coffee and cake instead of fiz and popcorn
  • Danger of alienating older customers who still feel young – if they can reject it, they often do – don’t want to be associated with ‘that group of people’ – they expect products and service to cost more

-    Inclusive

  • Kindle – allows you change size of text and have text to speech
  • Nintedo Wii is becoming more popular in care homes – active game playing
  • ClearRX by Target in the US – simplifies medication for entire families
  • Ferrari Enzo – with wider doors and lower floor o    Harley-Davidson – trikes for the older market – still cool design
  • Mobilistrictor – a suit to age the wearer by 40 years – useful to test our store design etc
    - used by Ford when developing the Focus – e.g. boot has no lip, dash doesn’t reflect light – became Ford’s best selling car
    - used by Derby City General Hospital building design
    - General Motors used older engineers – key card and push button start
mobilistrictor_Richard_Hammond

Richard Hammond trying out the Mobilistrictor

  • Legibility of writing
    - Larger fonts
    - Bolder colours
    - Clearer typfaces eg Tireseais typeface
    - Use of icons and symbols
  • Interface design – e.g. Apple iPhone and iPad, Facebook (103 year old woman who uses an iPad to interact)
    - Additional advantage of extended appeal to disabled, parents of young children, those heavily laden – e.g. small trolley in supermarket
    - Involve audience in your designs

Marketing

-    Only 1 in 5 sticks to brands they now – happy to try new products and service, but as late adopters
-    Only 1 in 3 own a mobile phone
-    Less influenced by mass media as advertising does not reflect their interests, have become cynical, but not being wired, are more open to national and local marketing
-    More time to shop around – and more time to think if they really need it, so more critical, and more time to write reviews. Can become experts in new products
-    More time to tell their friends about products and services – word of mouth becomes even more important
-    Need to use younger (not too young) faces in images – or take out faces – e.g iPad just shows hands, so appeals to all ages
-    Retail and experiential – e.g. Harley Davidson stores – older are less likely to buy online
-    Only 1 in 4 over 65’s have used the internet, but this is growing very fast
-    Over 50’s represent 25% of online population, but those that are spend longer online
-    Silversurfersday – increase confidence
-    Raceonline2012 led by Martha Lane Fox from LastMinute.com – can buy a £99 computer, with a cheap wireless dongle from 3
-    Better designed websites – e.g. Jitterbug from Samsung aimed at older customers, who can call to order as well as online
-    Email marketing more effective with older customers – e.g. eldergym newsletter
-    Free magazines – e.g. Staysure magazine for the over 50’s – based on airline magazine model
-    Segmented approaches – e.g. Ninento DS using Girls Aloud and Julie Walters in different ads for the same product
-    Car adverts tailored to age group. E.g. the young are interested in loans, the older are not
-    Appealing to the adult child
-    Look for older people in marketing agencies, if you can find them.
-    Be aware of emotional issues associated to buying older products such as walking sticks or elasticized trousers

Conclusion
-    They represent the only growing market in the UK
-    They have time and money to spend
-    There is currently very little competition
-    Be aware that they are difficult to profile – very varied with more variety in the future

Approach requires
-    empathy
-    must not be patronising

More consumer trends from Insider Trends

My colleague Frances Taylor recently attended an Insider Trends workshop in the Business & IP Centre.

Although I wrote a report on a similar workshop, How to become a cutting-edge retailer, Francis has noted some additional useful points.

Predictions from Insider Trends

Key trend 1: The recession

§        With the new government, spending cuts and changes in policy, it’s entering a new phase.

§        Food and energy costs are rising.

§        There is worry amongst consumers about the recession, even if it does not affect them personally.

§        Consumers are making more considered choices and buying budget brands.

§        Premium or ‘added-value’ products are still doing well, but only if they have real benefits, e.g. helping the environment or offering customised services.

§        Consumers are spending more time at home on activities such as baking and gardening.  Now 1 in 5 consumers grow their own fruit and vegetables.

§        The community is important: consumers are buying locally and supporting green initiatives. There is concern about pesticides and additives in food, and distrust of large corporates.

Tips for marketing:

§        Be clear and transparent in your messages.

§        Avoid hidden costs.

§        Offer free trials, 30 day guarantees and testimonials.

§        Focus on benefits not features.

§        Create new benefits to stand out, e.g. same day delivery.

Key trend 2: Genuine individuals

§        By 2020 there will be more single people than married people in the UK.

§        By 2018, 18% of households will be ‘single person households’.

§        This is affecting buying habits, e.g. people are buying smaller portions of food such as smaller loaves of bread.

§        Living in urban areas and single-person households means that interior design has become more compact.

§        Co-creation has taken off i.e. consumers helping to shape the products they buy, such as the Nike ID trainers.

Key trend 3: Technology

§        The mobile internet is really taking off.

§        Mobile apps are a growth industry which will be worth over 50 billion by 2020.

§        Smart phone owners are buying on average one app per month.

§        Location-based apps are becoming popular such as Foursquare.

§        The ‘perpetual beta’ has become the norm.

§        There is more experimentation e.g. retail trucks and pop-up shops, secret restaurants, etc.

§        Consumers feel like there is too much choice which can be overwhelming.

§        There is a movement of consumers that are ‘unplugging’, which is also called ‘the slow movement’.  For example slow cooking, gardening, home brewing, etc.

§        Some technology solutions have hidden complexity, e.g. the iphone.  It can perform a lot of functions, but is very simple and intuitive to use.

§        QR codes are being used on products for more information, for example, to show the ingredients on McDonald’s products.

Our Management and Business Studies Portal goes live

THE BRITISH LIBRARY HomeThe fruit of many months of labour by my colleague Sally Halper has finally emerged blinking into the bright light of day.

The Management and Business Studies Portal is a joint venture from The British Library and the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

We have joined forces to develop a new online service for managers, bringing together the latest management research and business information, alongside the British Library’s vast collections of print and digital material.

Jude England, head of social science collections and research at the British Library, says: “Our joint aim is to develop joined-up information services and content. The partnership with CMI expresses our continued commitment to supporting the government’s vision of building Digital Britain and improving UK productivity.

We have created a video explaining the site on our YouTube channel.

Whether you’re a University researcher or a busy manager, this Portal will help you find and use high quality management research publications quickly and easily.

  • Download research reports, summaries, briefings, working papers, conference papers and articles from key publishers.
  • You must register (see button above) to see most of the content.
  • Discover the British Library’s vast print and digital collections – in one powerful search
  • Receive alerts about new content that matches your subject interest(s)
  • Watch author interviews and other videos
  • Disseminate and preserve your work
  • Contact us

The introduction of the portal is the second joint venture with CMI this year. The first was the CMI Management Book of the Year awards, which I blogged about last March (Who will win Management Book of Year?).

Fifteen of the UK’s best management authors are now one step closer to winning the coveted title of Management Book of the Year, having made it on to the competition shortlist.

The CMI Management Book of the Year competition, launched by the CMI (Chartered Management Institute) in association with the British Library, aims to uncover the UK’s best books on management and leadership and raise the profile of the great management writing published or distributed in the UK. The shortlisted books are those that, in the opinion of the panel of expert competition judges, will help transform the working practices of managers and help to raise awareness of how management theories and thinking can be better applied in practice.

With £5,000 at stake for the winning author, the shortlisted books, which include John Adair’s Leadership of Muhammad and Richard Donkin’s The Future of Work, will now undergo an intense review process, where expert judges will whittle down the entries to find the UK’s best management text. One winner will be chosen in each of the three categories – ‘Practical Manager’, ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship’ and ‘Digital Management Book’ – before the overall winner is picked from the three.

The first competition of its kind, Management Book of the Year was created in response to shocking research that revealed that 85 per cent of employees would rather seek help elsewhere than turn to their managers when they need guidance at work. Despite this, just five per cent of these people are turning to management books when they have work issues, suggesting that managers are struggling to find useful, practical texts.

The research also revealed that surprisingly, when it comes to topic choice, more people would like to read about how to achieve a good work/life balance (40 per cent) than how to get a pay rise (30 per cent). In addition, 31 per cent are interested in advice on how to manage people, while just 19 per cent would like tips on securing a promotion.

The winning book will be announced on 25 January 2011.

The books that have made it onto the shortlist are as follows:

  • Practical Manager category:
  • Leadership of Muhammad by John Adair
  • ReWork: change the way you work forever by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
  • Managing by Henry Mintzberg
  • The Intuitive Mind by Eugene Sadler-Smith
  • The World’s Business Cultures and how to unlock them by Barry Tomalin and Mike Nicks
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship category:
  • Glimmer: How design can transform your business by Warren Berger
  • Brilliant Business Creativity by Richard Hall
  • Evolution:  How to thrive in crazy times by Bill Lucas
  • Supercorp by Rosabeth Moss Kanter
  • Design-Driven Innovation by Roberto Verganti
  • Digital Management Book category:
  • The Future of Work by Richard Donkin
  • The Leadership Illusion by T. Hall and K. Janman
  • Fast Track to Success:  project management ebook by Patrick Harper-Smith
  • How to lead by Jo Owen
  • Meet the new boss by Philip Whiteley
  • How to become a cutting-edge retailer

    Last week I attending an absolutely fascinating workshop on future trends in retailing.

    Cate Trotter the founder and Head of Trends at Insider Trends was the speaker, and had an impressive knowledge of the key issues affecting on-line and off-line retail business.

    Here are my notes from the information packed two hour session:

    What are the main trends that will affect retailers over next two to five years?

    Why?
    Trends are like ocean tides an cannot be controlled, but if you recognise them you can ride them to success.

    Who?
    There is now a more sophisticated and more connected customer base than ever before.

    Segmentation for individuals – more tailored products and stores

    Examples:
    * Alton Towers’ Sleepover Suite (sponsored by Superdrug) for teenage girls
    * Blends for Friends – an online tailored tea store – unique flavours and labels
    * Elemis Skinlab – technology to assess skin leading to tailored products

    Co-creation such as product modification.

    Examples:
    * Nokia phone covers – an early example
    * Nike iD range of shoes (choose from 60 shoes and select design of each element) – not a new service, but sales up 20% in last year
    * Zazzle – uploaded designs printed on thousands of different products – recent sales surge
    * Chocri.co.uk and Chocomize.com

    Concept development and product development

    Examples:
    * BMW – asking for ideas for new cars with online voting for favourites
    * Denham – store designed around what the customer wants

    Use SurveyMonkey – to find out what your customers want, or how about a coffee morning discussion. Much more than just a focus group asking for opinions.

    Changing family structure leads to convenience trend

    -          more singles than married in the UK by 2020
    -          more single person households in the UK – impacts how people shop – from weekly shop to convenience shopping.  Growth from 19bn 2000 to 41bn 2015
    -          Asda have bough Netto
    -          Easier payment – Visa PayWave system
    -          Debenhams – mini-wok is most popular item
    -          Dinner for one packages
    -          Waitrose – small stores with fresh food, warm bread, deli
    -          Reprise of the milkman – milkandmore.co.uk – findmeamilkman.net

    What?

    Two types of retail – Online vs Offline

    Online
    -          strong advantages
    -          price and value
    -          convenience – to your door

    Offline
    -          needs to compete with online success by expanding on…
    -          experience
    -          relationships

    Don’t get caught in the middle – if you are on the high street, don’t try and compete on price or you will fail

    Online Retail
    -          Moving onto portable devices and digital television
    -          Growing at 20% a year – more people online – more confidence shopping online
    -          Brand loyalty reducing online – one click away from a competitor + price comparison engines
    -          Small business shouldn’t not be drawn into price competition – e.g. with Amazon
    -          Make shopping easier for your customers – one click shopping – PayPal – clickandbuy.com and buxter.com (for Facebook shopping).
    -          Move to ‘right first time’ e.g. Levis curve fit
    -          Problem of home delivery – 10% of deliveries fail first time
    -          Example of collectplus.com can deliver to home or to a local store (later hours than local Post Office). Makes returns easy with label and convenience store, with post paid if wanted.

    The more unique your business the more loyalty you will get from your customers.

    Examples:
    -          Trunkclub.com online personal shopper who makes a commission on clothes bought.
    -          Plan B Salon – Skype interviewing
    -          Tissot.ch/reality – create a paper watch which generates facsimile of their designs.

    Tissot.ch/reality

    -          Neuvomonde.com – watches on your wrist
    -          Supermarketsarah.com – Portobello Road market in her house – a new photo each week. Also collaborates with designers

    Growth of mobile retailing
    -          Expected to double in next four years, but is still a tiny fraction of sales
    -          Will use phones to find out about products so website must include phone capability
    -          Phone apps will grow, but might be out of the reach of small business.

    Offline Retail

    Examples:
    -          Abercrombie and Fitch – more of an experience than shopping – all five sense are covered – loud music – A&F scents -
    -          The Brand Showroom – e.g. Disney Stores – putting the experience before the product
    -          J Crew (share of life retailing) – a range of products for a particular segment of the market / customer
    -          Monocle Stores – London, New York, Tokyo, Zurich – sell their magazine plus accessories for readers of the mag
    -          Mellow Johnny’s in Texas – bicycles, café and related
    -          Lomography Gallery, London – retail and support services

    Lomography Gallery London

    Competition now comes from other experiences instead of other retailers

    e.g. kids, shopping, theme parks

    ROBO shopping – Research Offline – Buy Online

    Maximise sales by
    -          selling closer to the time of need – rollasole.co.uk
    -          selling closer to time of consumption
    -          exclusives
    -          charge for stocking goods – ladenshowroom.co.uk in the East End
    -          own label products – e.g. Apple – use stores to promote products – don’t mind if customers buy online
    -          Own label – houseoffrasser.co.uk – Dyson have tried a pop-up store

    Where?

    13% of stores are now empty – lower rate in the South East

    Increasing demand for accessible / high street stores

    People losing trust in big name brands – moving to local stores and farmer’s markets

    Authenticity and localness – you don’t want to be located in a mall

    Choose you neighbours carefully – think about pairing up with a like minded business.

    Example of A Gold (UK produce) and Verde’s (European produce) in Brushfield street in Spitalfields.

    Attention spans on the web are shortening over time.

    Store payback time 5-7 years on average

    Example wesc.com – using trolleys to keep store fresh

    Amorepacific.com use projected displays in store – others use LCD displays

    Liberty change signage fonts and colours

    Could use posters

    Fast moving stock – Zara has 11,000 new products a year

    Temporary retail spaces – pop-up-stores – now hitting the mainstream

    Toys R Us open up 200 pop-up-stores for seasonal sales

    The Secret Restaurant and now The Secret Market (food fair) – marmitelover.blogspot.com

    Retail trucks – Adidas pop-up truck – can use Twitter to announce where you are

    New mobile app and widget to take credit card payments – squareup.com – 3% charge

    How? (including marketing)

    Less brand loyalty than in the past

    Customers more inclined to listen to each other than conventional advertising

    Haulvideos.net – people buy goods and post comments online – leads to discussion

    High satisfaction leads to word of mouth and social media

    So concentrate on quality delivery rather than low price

    Happy customer vs unhappy customer – £600 vs -£400 – Research by a mobile phone company

    Nudging customers to promote your products or services

    Example:

    Shopkick.com - customers get points for registering in store

    Foursquare.com  and gowalla.com – social media element
    -          Be interesting – sketch.uk.com
    -          Tell stories – your customer might want to share – hubbards.co.nz newsletter in every pack
    -          Educate customers – Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle – sealed chambers
    Apple store free workshops
    -          Make business more interactive – made.com – furniture designed by members of the public with votes to decide
    -          4food.com in New York, customers design their own burgers online and save recipe, with 25cents for each one sold
    -          Swipely.com – records purchases and shares online
    -          Uniqlo’s Lucky Line for every 26th customer who joined the line – massive social media coverage

    Conclusion

    Growth rates predicted for next 18 months

    Offline 1% – existing £263bn

    Online 39% – existing £11bn

    The future is customer centric so think P2P Retail – human interactions

    -          Be human!

    -          Celebrate your smallness

    -          Who is your service going to be tailored to?

    -          What do they like?

    -          How will you adapt to them?

    -          How will they change and how will you move with them.

    -          Be authentic – with innovations which will benefit your customers – connect with your local community

    -          Be conversational – put the relationship before the sale

    -          Finding out  what your customers think and how to trigger them to promote you.

    On a personal note I would strongly recommend signing up to the Springwise newsletter and looking at the Trendwatching website.

    Free broker research reports on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues

    Having worked in the City of London for many years, I was somewhat surprised to discover that financial institutions are now giving away their highly valued stockbrokers reports.
    .
    Needless to say they aren’t giving everything out, but through the The London Accord, you can get access to nearly 100 reports on a range of green and ethical related topics.
    .
    Welcome to the London Accord
    The London Accord presents a compendium of reports, written by a range of financial services firms, providing insight into issues ranging from renewable energy to the price of carbon.

    The financial services industry produces pertinent and valuable research which could, and should, be used by policy makers and NGOs who are shaping society’s response to long-term issues such as climate change and global pandemics. However, much of this research only sees the desks of a select few and all too soon disappears into the filing systems and cupboards of the commercial sector.

    The London Accord allows access to this research free of charge – offering policy makers an insight which they may not otherwise access and giving the financial services industry a way of engaging with society on long-term issues. The London Accord is simple, get more recognition and value from research by sharing what you are about to archive.

    Naked bikes take a dive

    I am always looking for an excuse to include motorbikes in this blog, and today thanks to a colleague I get an opportunity.

    We have one published report by Mintel, but it dates back to 1999 when the UK bike market was booming. However, the Motor Cycle Industry Association (MCIA) publish free monthly sales figures, and as you can see from the table and chart below, the situation has changed significantly since 1999.

    However it’s not all doom and gloom as the number of bikes on the road has increased (perhaps due to restored and revived classics such as my KR1-S ‘green meanie’).

    And, from the ashes of the once dominant British bike industry the Phoenix that is Triumph Motorcycles has arisen.

    The MCIA also produce a 2009 Statistics Pocket Guide pdf . And provide some interesting general ‘biker’ statistics:

    UK POWERED TWO WHEELER MARKET BACKGROUND INFORMATION
    NO. OF MOTORCYCLES IN USE (2006 : DEPT FOR TANSPORT)
    1.6 million

    MOTORCYCLES RIDER TEST PASSES (2006 : DEPT FOR TANSPORT)
    51 thousand

    TOTAL DISTANCE (KM) TRAVELLED BY MOTORCYCLE (2007 : DEPT FOR TANSPORT)
    5.6 billion km (3.5 billion miles)

    Finally, in order to help reverse the decline in biking, the MCIA have created a Get On website, where you can find out where to have a free try-out on a motorbike.

    In case you were wondering what is meant by ‘Naked’, a helpful glossary is provided at the end of each report, enabling you to bluff your way through, the next time you find yourself talking to a biker.

    Adventure (including Supermoto) – These bikes are similar in style to enduro motorcycles but are predominantly designed and capable for on-road use. Often they will have features similar to
    machines included in the Touring category e.g. fairings, luggage carrying capacity etc.

    Custom – These machines include ‘cruisers’ and ‘choppers’. They have flat but typically feature high handlebars, low seat height and forward footrests. Body panels
    and fittings contain high polished chrome content.

    Moped – In law, a motorised two-wheeled vehicle with an engine capacity of less than 50cc and a maximum speed capability of 30mph, riders must be aged 16 years
    or over. Mopeds are available in Motorcycle and Scooter styles.

    Motorcycle – In law, a motorised two-wheeled vehicle that is not a moped, riders must be aged 17 years or over.

    Powered Two Wheelers – All types of two-wheeled motor vehicle, including Mopeds, Motorcycles and Scooters.

    Sport/Touring – Machines that fit between Supersport and Touring bikes categories. Typical features include full or partial fairings and practical rider and pillion seating with
    low to medium ride handlebars. Tend to have medium to large capacity engines.

    Supersport – These machines are designed to mimic or directly replicate racing bikes. They normally have full fairings and low handlebars and are sometimes referred to
    as race replicas.

    Scooters – Have an engine, as an integral part of the rear suspension or the chassis is a step-through type, irrespective of cc or wheel size. Includes all types of
    transmission.

    Touring – Bikes generally have large engines and are designed for long-distance riding. Typical features include a more comfortable seating position for rider and
    pillion, luggage carrying capability and weather protection, such as fairings with a fixed or adjustable windscreen.

    Naked – Machines are built to a basic specification with no fairing (or only a small handlebar fairing) and an upright riding position. Engines are large to medium and
    often called retro.

    Trail/Enduro- These bikes encompass trials, enduro and trail bikes with an off-road or cross-country capability.

    Produced : 10-May-2010 00:38:37
    Copyright 2009 – Motor Cycle Industry Association Limited

    MOTORCYCLES     Apr-10    Apr-09    % Change     Apr 2010 YTD     Apr 2009 YTD     % Change
    ADVENTURE SPORT     902    1,282    -29.60%    2,942    3,866    -23.90%
    CUSTOM     995    1,105    -10.00%    2,745    3,090    -11.20%
    NAKED     2,075    2,564    -19.10%    5,819    7,297    -20.30%
    SCOOTER     1,286    1,548    -16.90%    4,472    5,417    -17.40%
    SPORT/TOUR     947    924    2.50%    2,873    2,822    1.80%
    SUPERSPORT     1,673    2,279    -26.60%    5,383    7,901    -31.90%
    TOURING     388    398    -2.50%    1,338    1,398    -4.30%
    TRAIL/ENDURO     523    600    -12.80%    1,732    2,048    -15.40%
    UNSPECIFIED     55    55    0.00%    194    242    -19.80%
    TOTAL MOTORCYCLES     8,844    10,755    -17.80%    27,498    34,081    -19.30%

    Breakfast with the Lord Mayor of London

    Thanks to my friend Chris Seow, who is currently Chairman City of London Branch of CMI, I was lucky enough to attend a breakfast talk on Tuesday morning, by the Rt Hon the Lord Mayor, Alderman Nick Anstee. The event was held in the heart of the City of London at Stationer’s Hall, belonging to The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers.

    The talk was entitled What now for the City, and gave a helicopter view of the City and how it is regarded around the world. He also talked about how the City is regenerating itself and what is over the horizon. Just to avoid any confusion, you should be aware that the Lord Mayor of London is not the same as the Mayor of London (currently Boris Johnson).

    As head of the City of London Corporation, which provides business and local government services to the City, the Lord Mayor of London’s principal role is ambassador for all UK-based financial and professional services. This building of  trade relationships and partnerships around the world, is something the Lord Mayor takes very seriously, and by the end of this year he will have visited 23 countries and 43 cities.

    The issue of public confidence in the City was addressed at the outset of the talk, and he wanted the focus of the City of London Corporation to be restoring the trust between the City and wider society. But he felt that politicians had avoided their responsibility in this area, often scapegoating the City, and risking driving away the economic prosperity it provides to the UK economy of 8.3% of GDP and £61.4 billion in tax revenue.

    However, he also recognised that the impact of the City must be socially useful as well as economically significant. Although the City retains its position as the worlds’ leading financial centre, despite the economic crisis, it needs to communicate its’ value to the public. To help this process they have created TheCityUK, an independent membership body, promoting the UK financial and related professional services industries.

    After the short speech, there were some interesting questions from the audience:

    Please comment on current press speculation about regulation of the finance sector,  is the City obliged to educate the public.
    We have to engage and inform the public, but also recognise that financial institutions need to do their part. We are looking at challenging the ethics and code of conduct of staff. We are also investigating possible changes to recruitment policies for City institutions. A conference is planned for 7 July covering this area.

    Please comment on the rising mortgage default rate in the US. Are we not out of the woods yet?
    There is a risk. The US economy is moving out the recession at a reasonable rate. But concerns about regulation may be leading US banks to hoard cash. That cash needs to be freed up in order to stimulate the economy, e.g. invest in Small and Medium Sized Enterprises.

    Stationers Hall in the City of London