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The coffee subjugation

I’ve been sitting for 25 minutes at Soho Coffee Co in Bristol Airport. And here’s the thing: every single empty table is filthy.

Covered in the crumbs, unidentified liquids and waste packaging of the previous occupants.

I was surprised that the upscale-looking franchise (sandwich = £5.10) did not jump on this — after all it takes seconds to run a cloth over the table — and then I observed something.

Customers sitting down were so appalled by the mess that they were cleaning up before enjoying their own purchases.

And Soho had realised this was happening and figured out they did not need to hire someone on clean-up. The customers would do it for free as a result of horror/good citizenship.

Now …

There is a valid argument that it is not Soho Coffee’s job to clean up after lazy, messy, entitled consumers. After all, a self-service environment includes self-clean-up, right? Those who refuse to clean up after themselves are not really living in a civilisation.

But what happens when the behaviour of customers leads to a dirty food service environment? That’s when you have to weigh the moral high ground with food safety and customer experience.

So here’s the math:

Brand equity resides in the experience. Marketers call it the second moment of truth.

We can educate customers about how we’d like them to behave: McDonalds manages this. But in the long run, it doesn’t matter whether it’s the job of consumers or the job of the restaurant. If clean-up isn’t happening then you’re the filthy café. For a coffee franchise, clean-up is not an expense, it’s a marketing investment.

Extrapolate to all other under-the-bonnet jobs that add to the customer experience.

Turned out niche again

A writer friend announces he’s working on a history of game shows. Someone critiques: “A bit niche isn’t it? Wouldn’t your efforts be better spent writing a telly show?”

The implication is that, when a project is being pitched, the ultimate goal should be broad, populist approval. If the project can’t have mass appeal, then it should be abandoned and efforts reallocated to something that might.

It’s the model by which most arts funding operates and, crucially, the way UK book publishing has been running itself for the last couple of decades.

Why? (more…)

Shopper insights and the case for burritos

Six ways to win that don’t require a pie-chart …

Consumer insights are big business for those that sell them. At conferences we crowd around the data, frantically snapping powerpoint slides with our iPhones (don’t tell me you use a Samsung) and craning our necks to hear interviews with amusing couples bickering about their shopping habits. While this is fascinating, I’ve always found it curious. Don’t we shop?

The case for intuition

The market for consumer insights is based on the fundamental MBA school mantra that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”. Because this error is drummed into us early in our careers, (more…)

Buffett fires £500m warning shot to Tesco CEO

Buffett fires £500m warning shot to Tesco CEO

If you’re as influential as Warren Buffett, all you need to do to raise the value of an investment is increase your stake. But it’s not enough to recoup his Tesco losses …

US billionaire Warren Buffett has swiftly raised his stake in Tesco from 3.21% to 5.08%, spending around GBP 500 million. Markets and analysts alike have chosen to see the move by one of the world’s most respected investors as a vote of confidence in the retailer. Shares in Tesco fell by 16% last week, when the UK retailer issued its first profit warning in 20 years, following porr Christmas trading. That news shaved GBP 5 billion of the retailer’s market capitalisation. But the stock rallied slightly on the revelation of Buffett’s increased commitment, edging up by 1.87 %. (more…)

Troubled Fnac unveils new strategy

Troubled Fnac unveils new strategy

Fnac’s chief defect is that it sells things people no longer buy …

French retailer Fnac has seen its operational profits halved, according to . The retailer blamed a lack of elasticity in its cost structure along with pressure on margins due to a strong drop in sales of electrical and electronic goods. To address this, Fnac has announced a new plan, which it is calling Fnac 2015. The plan involves cost reduction moves as follows: (more…)