Category Archives: food business

A refreshing cup of coffee half-way down the piste

I’m off to the Alps in a few weeks time for a bit of ‘piste-bashing’, so this story caught my attention.
Starbucks have opened the world’s first ski-in ski-out coffee shop on the side of a mountain.

Today 10 February 2012, Squaw Valley is officially opening the world’s first ski-in/ski-out Starbucks location.

On the mountain at elevation 8,000 feet, Squaw Valley’s new mountaintop Starbucks boasts spectacular mountain views and the unique ability for guests to keep their skis or board on while they order their Starbucks® beverage of choice.

“We worked closely with the design team at Starbucks to create a one-of-a-kind experience that we know our guests will truly enjoy,” said Andy Wirth, Squaw Valley’s president and CEO. “Nowhere else in the world can skiers and riders enjoy a delicious Starbucks coffee without missing a beat on the slopes.”

Now, you can can me an old stick in the mud, but I think the idea of whizzing down the mountain with a cup of steaming Java in my hand is taking the idea of ‘coffee on the go’ a little bit too far.

British Standard for a cup of tea – BS 6008 (revisited)

morning_tea_4_1165221_porah

Today we had a visit from British Standards Institution demonstrating their British Standards Online service (BSOL), to which we have full access in the British Library.

It reminded me of one of my earliest posts on this blog, way back in 2007, British Standard for a cup of tea – BS 6008. Surprisingly this has become my third most popular topic of all time (after the Bic Crystal ballpoint pen and the not so simple paper clip)

Perhaps not so surprising when you know (according to the United Kingdom Tea Council), tea is the most popular drink consumed in Britain, with over 165,000,000 cups being (image by porah) drunk in the UK every single day of the year.

Drinking tea the right way has it’s own popular website and book with A nice cup of tea and a sit down.

Sadly the vexed topic of when to put in the milk has the nation (and families) divided, despite the British Standard suggestion of putting it in last (for tea brewed ‘properly’ in a pot);

7.2.2 Preparation with milk
Pour milk free from any off-flavour (for example raw milk or unboiled pasteurized milk) into the bowl (5.2), using approximately 5 ml for the large bowl and 2,5 ml for the small bowl described in the Annex.

Prepare the liquor as described in 7.2.1 but pour it into the bowl after the milk, in order to avoid scalding the milk, unless this procedure is contrary to the normal practice in the organization concerned.

If the milk is added afterwards, experience has shown that the best results are obtained when the temperature of the liquor is in the range 65 to 80 °C when the milk is added. While addition of milk is not essential, it sometimes helps to accentuate differences in flavour and colour.

Many, including that great British writer George Orwell, who wrote a detailed eleven point set of tea making instructions, insist on putting the milk in second;

Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.

Needless to say, the Tea Council have their own ideas;

  • Use a good quality loose leaf or bagged tea
  • This must be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature
  • Always use freshly drawn boiling water
  • In order to draw the best flavour out of the tea the water must contain oxygen, this is reduced if the water is boiled more than once.
  • Measure the tea carefully
  • Use 1 tea bag or 1 rounded teaspoon of loose tea for each cup to be served
  • Allow the tea to brew for the recommended time before pouring
  • Brewing tea from a bag in a mug? Milk in last is best

And of course Wikipedia have a wealth of information on the topic of tea preparation.

tea_pot_858726_76609514

The only ‘proper’ way to make a cuppa – image by rubenshito

How to revive a brand

On the way home from a recent road trip to Scotland, I made a ‘pit-stop’ at a McDonalds restaurant near Birmingham.

I’m not a regular customer at the ‘golden arches’, so was very surprised to discover a waterless urinal
with a sticker on it saying it saved 100,000 litres of water a year.

urinal

Copyright Sorven Media ltd

This is all part of McDonalds’ efforts to combat the negative press that has built up over the years. In particular the reaction to ‘McLibel’ case and reaction to the 1994 documentary film Super Size Me by Morgan Spurlock.

McDonalds have created a website to allow you to Make up your own mind, which currently contains 24,000 questions and answers:

Your Questions
A dedicated Make Up Your Own Mind team from across McDonald’s is working hard to answer your questions. You can ask whatever you want, and we aim to answer even the toughest question within two weeks in an honest and straight-talking fashion. The ‘Questions & Answers’ can be searched either by keyword or by sub-sections – this should help you find the information you’re looking for.

The website also includes reports from their Quality Scouts.

What is a Quality Scout?
Quality Scouts are members of the general public from around the UK who are curious about McDonald’s business. They are not paid, and have no ties to the company. All they do is take an honest, behind the scenes look at McDonald’s and report back. And they’ll tell you exactly what they hear and see.

I have to say I am impressed by their efforts, but wonder what it will take to change public opinion.

Two examples spring to mind:

Fiat cars of the 1970’s, which became notorious for their rust problems.

In response they built the Tipo in the 1980’s (a car I owned), and gave it a fully galvanised body, giving it better rust protection than almost any other car on the market. However, it took many years for their ‘rust bucket’ reputation to disappear.

A more recent (if fictitious) example is from The Archers radio show where an outbreak of E. coli,  has resulted in regular customers deserting Ambridge Organics, despite having been given the all clear several weeks ago.

Here’s one we helped earlier – Seasoned culinary courses

Seasoned logoWe love hearing about people who we have helped, but it is even more gratifying when they contact us themselves to say thank you.

Last week we received this lovely email from Clare Tetley of Seasoned Ltd:

 

Clare_TetleyDear Business & IP Centre

A quick thank you for your help whilst setting up my business.

I spent one year living in London and researching my start-up business with you at the Business & IP Centre.  I attended a number of start-up courses which were fantastically helpful – everything from ‘knowing your market’ to SEO, IP and networking events.

I started Seasoned just over a year ago and so far business is growing and work is strong.

Here is a clip from ITV’s ‘Be Your Own boss’ series with an interview about setting up a business in a recession which you may like to see.

Many thanks again and I hope to continue visiting your events to further my knowledge.

Clare

Clare Tetley
Seasoned Ltd
01283 810275
www.seasonedcourses.com

Real practical market research the MOMA way

moma1Despite having probably the largest collection of freely available market research reports in the UK, we always emphasise the importance of field research.

In fact I am part of an excellent workshop run by Victor Higgs on  Practical Market Research.

So I was fascinated to read the story of Tom Mercer, the founder of MOMA foods in yesterday’s Evening Standard.

To test his idea, Mercer spent a night in the kitchen of his Waterloo home pouring his fruit, yoghurt and oats concoction into Tesco water bottles, on which he had Pritt Sticked his own labels. After a long night that killed off several blenders, he set up a trestle table in Waterloo and handed out his shakes to commuters for free, in exchange for their email addresses.

Later that day, he sent out surveys asking for feedback. “The positive responses gave me the impetus to quit my job,” Mercer says. That decision led to four months experimenting with recipes, and biking around London train stations looking at sites. “I would stand there for hours, counting the number of people who walked by and the proportion who stopped in coffee shops. On one occasion I was chucked out by police for loitering.”

Mercer worked out that he needed a footfall of about 10,000 people between 6.30 and 10am to make the business viable. Eventually he secured a first site – at Waterloo station – and spent £10,000 of savings on a van, stall and cooking premises under a Deptford railway arch.

Looking forward to a greener New Year with my Keep Cup

Just before the holidays our intranet announced that we could ‘buy a reusable cup and receive 10 free hot drinks’. This was part of the Library’s commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility.

I was keen to try it out, and have been using my Keep Cup for a couple of weeks now, and am very happy with it. According to their blog, Pret have also recently trialled the Keep Cup.

The cups, available in a range of colours, cost £6.00 but customers receive 10 free hot drinks as an incentive.  The disposable cups that the Library uses for its takeaway hot drinks have a waterproof waxed coating that means that they cannot be recycled. As part of the Library’s on-going initiative to reduce waste, Peyton & Byrne have identified a product that will reduce the amount of takeaway cups used and provide staff with a better quality takeaway hot drink.

The KeepCup is a high quality reusable cup manufactured from the safest food grade plastic. It is for use with either hot or cold drinks. It has a sealable lid and sipper hole and is pleasing to drink from with the lid either on or off.

It is thermally insulated, keeping coffee hot for 30-40 minutes longer than a disposable cup. Each cup also has a thermal silicone band to ensure the cup can be carried comfortably and safely.

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.

My own cooked meal for one from Scratch

curry-head-onWhilst browsing in  Sourced Market in St Pancras on my way home the other evening, I came across a package promising a meal of Chicken & Chorizo Jamabalaya cooked in one pan… from scratch.

Scratch is the clever name for a new business selling pre-packaged meals with fresh ingredients and instructions to cook a tasty, wholesome meal.

You get a box with all the chopped, washed and weighed ingredients as well as the instructions to cook your meal from scratch.  The meals are for one and cook in around 15 minutes with one or two pans.

As they say, ‘We do the hard bits, you do the fun bits’.

I have to admit I was rather cynical and mainly tried it out in the interests of research, plus I really wanted see what Chicken & Chorizo Jamabalaya tasted like. I have to say that the product definitely lived up to its promise, being incredibly easy and fun to cook, with a tasty meal, and only one pan to wash up at the end – result!

Scratch staffFrom a business opportunity aspect, I find it interesting to see how Scratch are addressing the needs of the growing number of single householders. This is a trend identified in the How to become a cutting-edge retailer workshop I attended recently.

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

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.

Drink Shop & Do – a new kind of consumer experience

Many thanks to a colleague for recommending this newly opened venue, located just around the corner from my office. I popped over last week for a nose around and ended up buying lunch and having a long chat with co-founder Kristie.

She explained how the idea for Drink Shop & Do came from wanting a place like this for Kristie and Coralie and their friends. As with so many entrepreneurs when confronted with the frustration of the lack of a product or service, the light-bulb went on in their heads and they saw a business opportunity.

The potential they spotted was for a destination for what I would describe as maturing mid-twenties young people. Those who have become bored by the late nights, heavy-drinking and loud music –  nightclub lifestyle. As the father of a 20 year old young woman, I am very much looking forward to the time she reaches this calmer stage of life.

Kristie and Coralie have chosen a beautifully light and airy building, which was a Victorian bathhouse in a former life. This is a delightfully surprising find, located close to what was previously one of the grottier part of Kings Cross.

The founders can explain their thinking better than I can:

We are Kristie and Coralie. We met 13 years ago on our first day of secondary school and have been friends ever since. About a year ago we discussed what would really make us happy…

Kristie hoped for a place where tea was served in beautiful teapots, cakes were sticky, and where if she felt like it she could play a game of scrabble!

Coralie wished for all of those things too, but she also wanted to be able to display local designers crafts and products so that people coming into the shop had the chance to see not only pieces of art but handmade designs that they could buy there and then to take home.

We wanted to create a fantastical looking place, that was open to the community where everyone could feel free to come and make crafty things at any time of the day, and perhaps drink a delicious cocktail at the same time!

After having been open for only eight weeks they are still on a steep learning curve, and suffering from the traditional startup’s lack of sleep. They have a long to do list they are starting to work through, including putting a location map on their website and starting a blog. Although they do have a presence on Facebook with over 500 friends. And have had some excellent reviews from bloggers (Drink, Shop and Do Reviewhandnamade)

More importantly, they are both relishing the experience of developing a unique service.

It was interesting to hear the positive impact of their idea to make everything in the shop for sale. On a slow day recently for food and drinks sales, a customer wandered in and ended up buying a £600 sofa, which made for a good day’s income overall.

I like the way they are having fun with what they do. Kristie explained how she had always wanted to run a traditional sweetshop as a child (in common with many), and had created something of a mini sweet emporium in her bedroom at home. Needless to say the opening of Drink Shop & Do gave her the opportunity to fulfil this dream, with a corner of the building dedicated to Flying Saucers and the like.

On a final note I want to say how delicious the Salmon, Dill & Creme Fraiche tart  I bought was, and to wish Kristie and Coralie the best of luck with their innovative  venture.

Update 12 October
Great to see an excellent article on the shop in last night’s Evening Standard.