Thursday, 16 September 2010

Health, Safety and Marmite

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

I was struck this week by a couple of articles, both illustrating (to me anyway) the difficult balancing act of Consumer Products.

One was about how promotions can excite an almost physical response in people's brains. Apparently a free jar of Marmite is akin to being physically aroused.

I get that.

The interesting thing for a lot of my customers, is how that can be used to counteract a little-known aspect of promotions - the fact that almost all promotions are short lived. Let's call it the "Jenny Thompson" effect. Get the free jar of Marmite. Get excited. Get a jar of Bovril next time.

Apparently the researchers are going to figure out how to make promotional excitement last longer - I would call that the 64 billion dollar question. Or maybe the £1,200 money back question.

Then I read another article about the much more mundane - but infinitely more tragic - health and safety aspect of the companies that make our favourite products. Somebody, in a plant, somewhere, had an accident that gave them brain damage. Sorry, but there's no happy ending and no punchline.

Promotions, efficiencies, effectiveness and consumer engagement are all well and good - even better when people are kept fit and healthy.

2010 IfM Symposium

Looking forward to the 2010 Cambridge IfM symposium on International Manufacturing next week.

Whither paper?

I went to a very well organised event this week.

Traversing a very bleak part of London, we arrived at a particularly clean and well run manufacturing facility in the middle of what many attendees called a proxy northern European part of the country. It was slightly alien, and very efficient.

All the concepts were right - 8D, 6s, lean, all that. But I (as an SAP consultant) had a bit of a heart attack when I saw that their ERP system appeared to be a massive piece of brown paper!

Visually brilliant. When it worked. Not at all timely. Totally dependent on people's mood. Not at all visible to senior management. How this business turned over 4 times our revenue I don't know.

But. great machines. And able to export the vast - VAST. No VAAAASSST - majority of their output to other countries. A triumph of physics.

And I'm a physicist, so I approve!