Friday, August 23, 2013

No growth for them: 40% of Britons are falling behind

The Economist published an informative article, describing how any economic recovery so far has only benefited the wealthy. Wages have barely risen since 2000, but living costs are 35% higher.
52% of Britons are struggling to keep up with the bills. 
Makes you wonder how far the polarization of income will go, before the trend reverses?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Frugal solutions presention at AOM 2013 in Orlando

I presented the frugal solutions project at the Academy of Management annual conference in Orlando. The presentation focused on why frugal innovation is highly relevant for Western markets.
You can see the slides and listen to the 15 minute presentation here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

5 days at Disney's

Just got back after spending 5 days at a conference held on the Disney property in Orlando Florida, right next to Disney World, Animal Kingdom and the other theme parks.

Frankly, I didn’t connect. There’s a certain perfection to Disney that is impressive. It’s clean, well maintained, the whole thing is planned at an absolutely audacious scale.

But… it’s hard not to pick up a darker tone underneath the perfectly staged setting. Once you are on the property, Disney has absolute monopoly. They run everything: All the hotels, all the restaurant, all the shops, the busses... You will eat the food they have put on the menu. You will pay the prices they charge. You will wait in their lines.

There’s an obsession with safety. The signs warn you about dangers you never considered. When you check in it feels a bit like signing a contract, there’s all kinds of disclaimers that you must sign off on.

My favorite example was on the little note pads in the conference rooms. At the bottom of every page there would be a safety advice:
For your safety, watch your step, do not walk and text! 
– or: For your safety, please locate the nearest exit. 
Or: For your safety, please be aware of your surroundings. 

Basically, at Disney's, we’re reduced to infants. We are told to follow the rule, to take care, and we are given the role of an absolutely passive consumer: There’s nothing to add – everything has been planned for us, already. Just relax.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Nudging / manipulation

Nudging is about presenting choices in a way that makes people do what you want them to – while still leaving them with the freedom to choose for themselves.
One way of nudging is setting the default, you present people with options, but one of them has been pre-chosen. Most of us will simply accept the default.

This has been used to make school kids make more healthy choices in canteens – but the same mechanism can obviously also be used to make consumers spend more than they would otherwise. 

Here’s an example, from Disney in Orlando. It’s always a bit of a hassle to calculate tips in the US, but this restaurant helps you by calculating the amount for you. They have two suggestions: 18% and 20%. All you need to do is fill in the amount.
…But what happened to 15%? As long as I can remember, 15% was the norm. Now, if you want to pay 15% you are not normal, in fact it really sticks out that you are trying to go against a norm that you have been presented with.
Personally, I get really stubborn when I sense that I’m being manipulated. It’s no longer a friendly transaction, when you sense that the other party is trying to trick you.
They got 15%.

New kid on the block

There’s a new newspaper in some of the vending boxes on street corners in New York, The China daily – the largest english language Chinese paper.

It’s a slim, slick, well produced paper. A bit sterile, but not bad, really. In many ways similar to USA Today. 
The price is 25 cents – compared to USA Today which sells at a dollar.

Clearly, they are not there to make money.
A similar effort towards presence in New York is Xinhua, the Chinese news agency, which has rented one of the most visible spaces on Time Square. It most cost a fortune, but they haven’t invested much in producing some content that can stand out amidst the blizzard of great ads around it. They show a stale orange square with letters.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Datsun - the un-Nano

Nissan has launched their low cost car made for India and other emerging markets using the old Datsun brand. It's an entry level car, but the positioning is not about getting a cheap car. 
There's not a word about low prices. Instead its about "the risers".

Quote from the Datsun website: 
"The return of Datsun didn't start with what cars to launch, but with the people, the Risers. Young Risers in high-growth markets who are ahead of the curve. Waiting for that one chance that will propel his career and future. For the young risers, mobility is both physical and social access to opportunities."