Archive for December, 2012
As of tomorrow, this blog is six years old. Thanks again for reading, commenting and sharing. Here’s my Client Christmas Card for this year, see you in 2013.
cartoon by (and licensed from) Megan Hills at mycartoonthing.com
The post below set off a chain of events that happily resulted in the APG making a commitment to reach out to Planners Outside London and tailor their offering for them. I’m thrilled…and seem to have been roped into making it happen. All is explained here, if you’re a Planner Outside London, please get in touch with me gemma (at) gemmateeddotcodotuk and I’ll add you to my list :)
(see below for update and a response from the APG)
My Account Planning Group membership runs out early next year and I’m afraid I won’t be renewing it. As a Planner-outside-London I don’t seem to get very much for my £120 + VAT, just access to APG award papers and the ability to add ‘APG member’ to my bio.
The problem seems to be to be that the APG is run for the benefit of the majority of its members – who seem to be based in London. So most of the membership benefits like the free Noisy Thinking events can only be accessed if you’re actually physically Down South on the night in question. Which is not exactly practical for me. And it still hacks me off that they called their twitter feed (AND their youtube channel) @APGLondon.
The Market Research Society should in theory have a similar problem – but I think I get remarkable value as a Northern member. There’s a monthly glossy magazine that drops through my letterbox, the annual 900+ page Research Buyers Guide with every research supplier you could ever need in it and a membership card that has more than once convinced a skeptical security guard that I really am a legitimate researcher.
But that’s not all, there’s an MRS Code of Conduct telephone advice line for those times when you’re not sure if a certain kind of incentive is OK or have a client in a particularly sensitive industry such as healthcare and want to double-check everything and the MRS even hold special regional events in Leeds and Manchester. Which makes the their Associate Membership fee of £125 a year seem quite reasonable.
So from now on it’s yay to the MRS and nay to the APG. Unless they want to offer me a heavily discounted ‘Overseas’ membership instead? And yes, I know I could watch the Noisy Thinking events on youtube…but I don’t need a £120+VAT APG membership to do that.
I received a response to this post from Sarah Newman, Director of the APG today and I asked if I could share some of her email here – I’m very pleased that they’re reviewing the APGLondon handle and with the lines of communication now open we Northern Planners will hopefully be on their radar:
“We do recognise that people we who live in or near London get better value out of the APG as they can attend our events in person We do take care to film just about everything, from our strategy conference Worlds Collide to Noisy Thinking and our Theoertical Futures events. These events tend to ‘sell out’ very fast as they are extremely popular so we want everyone who would like it, to have access to them. We would like over time to be able to create a more organised network and programme outside London, If you would like to get involved in this I’d be delighted. We’re a tiny organisation at the moment so we rely a lot on enthusiastic volunteers such as those on the committee to help us get things done.
If you are an out-of-town member you do still get member reduced rates to training, the ability to enter our strategy awards and access to the knowledge database.
The APG, unlike the MRS, is not a trade association so the kinds of activities we engage in and the things we offer to our members are different. You don’t need any official accreditation to be an APG member just an interest in all things planning so we don’t offer membership cards or have a directory of suppliers whom we represent.
As to APG London – you are absolutely right, it’s really unfortunate. We’re a victim of the fact that our name has already been used in the forms we would like so we are very limited in how we can describe ourselves on twitter and YouTube. We’re looking into it again to see if there’s a better way.”
I’ve been thinking A LOT about the retail shopping experience recently. Partly because I’ve got relevant projects on the go or in the works and partly because I’ve been ‘impulse storing’ – which I’ve just invented to describe popping into a store on impulse to try and knock some items off the worrying large festive shopping list sitting in your handbag.
In the last couple of weeks, through a combination of work and life I’ve managed to visit ASDA, Tesco, Waitrose, Booths (which is a sort of northern Waitrose), a big Co-op, Currys, ASDA Living, John Lewis, Selfridges, TK Maxx, B&M, M&S and Wilkinsons. Which seems to me to be a fair cross section of all ends of the market.
What’s really struck me on my SuperShop is that the higher the price point, the better the shopping experience. With the obvious exception of anything on Oxford Street four weeks before Christmas. But I’m not really talking about queuing time, customer service or the in-store environment. It’s how the other customers behave that seems to make the biggest difference.
With the best will in the world, pushing a trolley round a major mainstream supermarket in mid-December is not going to be a pleasant experience. But it’s made considerably worse by trolleys pushers not giving way, parents screaming at their kids and people being generally inconsiderate of their fellow shoppers while they’re in full-on hunter-gatherer mode.
I’ve been wondering if there’s a way to make customers a little more considerate and, well, human while not impacting on the desired ‘must buy lots of stuff’ mentality that keeps the store tills ringing. Surely a more pleasant experience would make shoppers more likely to browse, impulse buy and stay longer? You’d think that someone would have done some research into the effect on basket spend of a chillaxing environment vs. one where sensory overload has a dehumanising (but possibly spend amplifying) effect.
Someone has at least investigated one side of this dilema, the New York Times has reported that ‘the less comfortable you are during the seasonal shopping spree, the more money you’ll spend’. Researchers from Penn State and the National University of Singapore concluded that music played at high volumes was one of several factors that leads to overstimulation and ‘a momentary loss of self-control, thus enhancing the likelihood of impulse purchase.’ (thanks to @russhmeyer and @clweinfeld for the link)
But I’d be really interested to hear if anyone has looked into the other ‘let’s all be nice to each other’ option? Booths are pretty brilliant at delivering this, but they have the luxury of a time and cash rich core customer base. I’m just not sure I can see their ‘we’re all gentleman here’ approach working in one of ASDA or Tesco’s megastores. Perhaps it would just take a few Random Acts of Kindness by store staff to kick it all off? If anyone’s done any research into this I’d love to hear about it.
By the way – I’d advise any Brits reading this to get your Christmas food shop done on Saturday 22nd or be brave and hold off until you can sneak out of work on the 24th. Traditionally, the 23rd is the biggest, busiest day of the year for supermarkets. But the 23rd this year falls on a Sunday so the 6 hour Sunday trading rule applies. Which means the festive bunfight will be twice as bad as usual as the shopping window is halved that day. Tesco and Morrisons have both asked for extended opening hours and have been refused so don’t say I didn’t warn you…
I’m not very impressed by Topshop’s Christmas brand film, launched today. They ran a load of teaser films online last week, along with the hashtag #whosthatgirl?, asking everyone to guess who the ‘Hollywood A-list star’ in their film was.
The full film was launched today. The Big Star is Kate Bosworth – who I’ve heard of, but had to check imdb to see what she’s been in. Even for Topshop’s core audience calling her ‘A-List’ is a bit of a stretch.
But I could happily live with the film (visually it’s rather nice and fuzzy and festive) except for two things – firstly she’s not what you’d call a song bird (to my ears there’s quite a few duff notes in there) and she’s sparrow thin. If you start searching for ‘Kate Bosworth t…’ google suggests ‘Kate Bosworth thin’ rather than ‘Kate Bosworth topshop’. I don’t think that someone who is apparently a size zero looks very Christmassy. She certainly doesn’t look like she’s about to happily tuck into a few mince pies and the sleeves on her ‘red carpet custom made dress’ are still too big for her.
I’d have cast Kristen Stewart (if the budget would stretch) as her red carpet style is a great fit with Topshop, or perhaps Zooey Deschanel for a slightly more budget friendly alternative. Anyone else want to play Fantasy Festive Ad Casting?