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Morning Briefing Strap Line
Fri 30th Jun 2017 - Friday Opinion
Subjects: Saving the workday lunch, at war with the modern world and turning feelings of ambivalence in your product or service into love
Authors: Glynn Davis, Paul Chase, and Chris Edger and Tony Hughes 

Saving the workday lunch by Glynn Davis

I don’t know Michael Bloomberg, but if I did I might just buy him lunch. He is best known for his eponymous financial media business and for his time as the mayor of New York, but he might also be known soon as the saviour of lunch. He recently announced the new Bloomberg headquarters in the City of London would not feature a flash canteen like most other technology-based businesses because he wants his employees to leave the office at lunchtime and explore their surroundings, and this should be applauded.
 
Such a move goes very much against the grain because Facebook, Twitter and other such businesses have made it part of their cultures to offer outstanding dining facilities. It has become part of the package to new employees – free food and drink on tap is absolutely expected nowadays. And this is not the low-quality produce of the old school canteens but is real top notch cuisine.
 
Why would you ever feel the need to venture outside the office building? This to Bloomberg is precisely the problem – he does not feel having such facilities is healthy as it effectively leads to an addiction to work – what he terms the “Google Syndrome”. Undoubtedly this is exactly what these technology businesses want from their employees – having them totally reliant on you for all their needs certainly creates loyalty (or dependence if you like).
 
Google is pushing things even further with its new London office in King’s Cross that will have sleep pods within which employees can kick back and sleep off their slap-up lunch. This clearly fills Bloomberg with dread and I suspect it does nothing for the food and drink operators in the area (although King’s Cross does seem to be doing rather well with dining footfall).
 
Bloomberg’s move is a welcome antidote to the company canteen movement that has certainly contributed to a growing feeling that lunch is dead – lunchtime traffic dipped by 2% in 2016 in the US.
 
The groupings most likely having an impact on this are the millennials and Generation Z. They are most typically the demographics taking advantage of today’s glossy company canteens. They are also of the mindset to replace fuller lunchtime meals with snacks throughout the day. These consumers of bite-sized media content also eat in the same way. There are now 12 billion annual visits in the US to restaurants and foodservice outlets for what could be termed quick nibbles. This is a big number and the trend is no doubt replicated in the UK.
 
The change in consumption patterns is also being fuelled by access to e-commerce that is keeping many people at their desks throughout the lunch period and distracting them from spending time outside the office – enjoying a proper lunch and the attendant breather away from their desks.
 
Defenders of today’s uber-canteens will no doubt point out they provide the opportunity for people from different disciplines in an organisation to come together and maybe share thoughts and ideas. This never works in reality and people naturally stay within the comfort of their regular groups.
 
Bloomberg would undoubtedly argue companies would much more greatly benefit from employees being able to clear their minds for an hour and enjoy some external inputs from an exploration of their local areas and the interactions that inevitably ensue.
 
With the hospitality industry facing an increasing array of headwinds – that are beginning to affect trading – moves like the one initiated by Bloomberg will be most welcome. It would be a shame if the workday lunch as we know it slipped from the office workers’ lexicon. We’ve already had the extinction in the US of the three-Martini lunch and in the UK the four-pint midday break so let’s hope we don’t lose all the other attributes of lunch.
Glynn Davis is a leading commentator on retail trends
 

At war with the modern world by Paul Chase

A report titled “Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere” was published in May this year by two neo-temperance research and lobby groups – the UK’s Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) and Australia’s Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE). If anyone was in any doubt that so-called “public health” is a far-left socialist project opposed to consumer capitalism in all its forms, then take a look at this report and at the organisations that stand behind it.
 
The report is a comprehensive articulation of one of the three strands of neo-temperance, anti-alcohol strategy, namely, reducing the physical availability of beverage alcohol products – hence the title. The other two strands are affordability and advertising. IAS and FARE want to reduce all three as part of a whole population approach to alcohol harm reduction. I will give a detailed analysis of this report in the next issue of the Propel Quarterly magazine, but here’s a taster:
 
The report comes up with ten recommendations, all aimed at reducing alcohol consumption:
1. Restrict trading hours for off-licence liquor.
2. Restrict trading hours of on-licence venues to limit the availability of alcohol after midnight.
3. Improve regulation of off-licence liquor sales by confining alcohol to specific areas within supermarkets to discourage impulse purchases and reduce alcohol sales.
4. Enhance community involvement – provide residents with access to legal resources and advice to ensure the community is able to engage with licensing systems.
5. Clearly define licensing policy to minimise the cumulative harm associated with higher densities of liquor outlets.
6. Place the onus on applicants to prove their venue is in the public interest.
7. Include and prioritise public health and/or harm minimisation objectives in liquor legislation.
8. Enhance data sharing to facilitate more targeted policy interventions.
9. Restrict the sale of high-risk products in areas of concern.
10. Deprioritise alcohol industry voluntary schemes.
 
Neo-temperance campaign groups such as IAS and FARE believe it’s the availability of alcohol that makes people drink it; that supply begets demand. The fact such a proposition turns established economic theory on its head bothers them not one jot. You might think the wish-list of a bunch of temperance cranks isn’t worth the effort of rebutting, but these are the same temperance cranks that hugely influenced the chief medical officers’ revised “low-risk” drinking guidelines. The IAS is very experienced at insinuating itself and its advocates into positions of influence.
 
It always play down its temperance aspirations and its broader ideology, but IAS is owned by a charity called Alliance House on whose board sits a variety of temperance organisations. Essentially the IAS is the research arm of the International Order of Good Templars (IOGT) and its offices are located at the same address in London. So, it’s worth looking at what IOGT believes if we are to understand the underlying motives of IAS.
 
IOGT believes “Big Alcohol” is part of something it calls the “corporate consumption complex”, which it defines as “an intricate web of organisations including the multination corporations manufacturing the goods of consumer capitalism, retail giants selling those products, trade associations doing the political lobbying as well as advertising and law firms supporting PR and political campaigns of these industries”.
 
And then this: “Together with ‘Big Tobacco’, the food, pharmaceutical, firearms and automobile industries, the alcohol industry forms the so-called corporate consumption complex – a network of corporations, financial institutions, banks, trade associations, advertising, lobbying and legal firms that together promote ‘hyper consumption’. The corporate consumption complex has become the most powerful force to impact human health and the communities in which humans live. It is the primary modifiable cause of the biggest cause of premature mortality in the 21st century, non-communicable diseases.”
 
So, there you have it – IAS and IOGT aren’t simply opposed to excessive consumption of alcohol and the health harms associated with that, they are opposed to the modern world! It’s all a conspiracy! They regard the pharmaceutical industry as part of this corporate consumption complex – as part of what causes non-communicable diseases. Have they heard of antibiotics? And the automobile industry – get rid of cars! When you read through IOGT’s detailed analysis of what is wrong with modern society it is not just enemies of alcohol that are at odds with consumer capitalism – run by a bunch of bad-guys intent on putting profit before public health; apparently we all believe it is in our economic self-interest for our customers to die prematurely!
 
What is implied by its analysis is the only way for us to live is to embrace a kind of woolly, agrarian communitarianism – back to the horse and cart, lots of brown rice and above all a life free of alcohol or any other intoxicant by means of which human beings might change their consciousness.
 
I think both our sector and government needs to be more aware of the ideology underpinning neo-temperance, and what it means for business and our society if these crackpots are successful in propagating their influence. Keep watching this space.
Paul Chase is a director of CPL Training and a leading commentator on on-trade health and alcohol policy 

Turning feelings of ambivalence in your product or service into love by Chris Edger and Tony Hughes

The first key moment of truth for inspirational leaders is the design stage of the organisation. It is at this moment the leader must fashion a product or service that amounts to a truly evocative experience for both the team and customers. All other moments of truth will fail unless this cornerstone is put in place. But what does evocative experience mean? Evocative implies positive imagery that sears itself into the hearts and memories of all participants and recipients. 

This is generated though positive experiences that stimulate and heighten all the major conscious and subconscious senses. Furthermore, what leaders achieve through designing an evocative experience is transforming ambient feelings of potential ambivalence towards their product or service into love. A deep-seated attraction and attachment to what they have created that results in high levels of retention, loyalty and advocacy of staff and customers. Inspirational leaders understand the first maxim of successful brands and products; design a quality product your customers love and your team will love it too! 

But how do inspirational leaders turn feelings of (potential) ambivalence into love at this product/service design stage?

Stand for something good 
All successful products and services have one thing in common – they provide a distinctive solution to a customer problem. That is to say, they satisfy the unfulfilled needs, feelings and aspirations of hardworking people. They find a “market place with a market space” either through luck or judgment. They are most successful when they aim for category leadership, developing focused, scalable offers that quickly gain “first mover” pre-emptive status. In short, they find “their game and they play it” – they stand for something important. But the most important factor that sustains and nurtures success is the fact that – intrinsically – the product or brand stands for something of inherent goodness. It adds to the sum of human happiness. 
 
Create a warm personality
Leaders must define the way in which their product brand will “speak” and relate appealingly to its key stakeholder constituencies (customers, staff, partners, suppliers etc). To this extent they aim to create a clear identity and “warm theatrical personality” with soul that resonates; commonly expressed through an evocative essence and the careful assembly of symbolic brand elements. In terms of product essence – (s)he can choose four or five words “from the heart” that sum up what it stands for and what customer needs it will fulfil (ie Nando’s – pride, passion, courage and family). In terms of product elements – great thought must also go into designing and commissioning the brand’s name (will it be descriptive, alliterative, iconographic, personified, geographic, “made up” etc?), logo (visual identifier), tagline (catchphrase), graphics (shapes and patterns), icons and stories etc. Are they evocative? Do they symbolise what the brand seeks to represent? Will they appeal to core customers (without offending infrequent users)? Do they create feelings of warmth and affection? 

Provide distinctive and generous benefits
It is important the product appears unique to customers, offering benefits that other brands don’t. Leaders can achieve clarity in this process by leveraging the product essence to define the distinctive functional and emotional attributes that appeal to tangible and intangible customer requirements; functional benefits; product-based (quality and consistency) and economic (high perceived value) and emotional; psychological (identity, feeling and aspiration) and sociological (affiliation, community and sociability).

Have happy workers
During the design stage the leader will be focused on building a compelling concept that has traction in the external market. However, during this process of concept construction s(he) must simultaneously contemplate how the brand will be made “salient” by being brought alive internally. The functional and emotional benefits the brand offers for customers must be mirrored by a set of clear benefits for staff that will be energised and come to personify the brand. 
 
Constantly surprise and delight guests
Although this might sound counter-intuitive, products that are loved, surprise, and delight their customers through under-promising and over-delivering on the overall experience. How? Essentially by giving loyal customers unexpected treats or over-indexing on product quality, service and amenity in relation to price; leading to perceptions from customers they are getting a really good deal. Also, companies that are able to customise and tailor their products to individual needs and demands are also likely to be received more warmly that those that are “fixed” and homogenous. 

Operators can design an evocative experience (generating love) by following these five key points: 
– Be distinctive!
– Create a soul and personality 
– Provide benefits to guests that they can’t get elsewhere
– Create a “family team” – a proud tribe of employees 
– Constantly innovate and surprise loyal guests 
This article was extracted from Chris Edger and Tony Hughes’ book “Inspirational Leadership – How to Mobilise Super-performance through eMOTION”. Professor Chris Edger is a multiple author on retail leadership and Tony Hughes is a luminary of the European foodservice scene 

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