Charity Begins at Home

One of the things I really enjoy about the calls I get from journalists is that they prompt me to consider new aspects of consumer issues.  This morning I was called by BBC Radio Bristol to talk about the rise of charity shops on UK high streets. At the heart of the issue is the advantageous cost base that charity shops enjoy.  Not only do they receive heavily discounted business rates (80% discounts are mandatory), they also capitalise on difficult economic conditions by taking on retail premises at very low rents: the landlords must continue to pay business rates even if their premises are unoccupied, so they are under considerable pressure to find a retail tenant. With their donated stock and volunteer staff, charity shops benefit from significantly lower running costs. The issue is far from simple. The very nature of ‘charity’ is highly emotive: few people would say charities […]

Is Almost Every Company Making the Same Mistake?

Anyone who works for a large organisation and who has ever wanted to do something constructive for that organisation, will have experienced the same questions and the same dark forces waiting to challenge their brilliantly conceived scheme: the finance department. Arguably, it’s reasonable enough that a corporation, preoccupied as it is with making, sustaining and growing profit, should have a beady eye on every single cost that is incurred in the course of such pursuits. That this can lead to conflicts and disputes is unquestionable.  Frequently the return on investment from activity, particularly marketing activity, is hard to evaluate: it can be tricky to gauge how long a long term brand-building exercise will be making a return and valuing brands themselves is a topic that is hotly debated.  Assumptions are made (explicitly or implicitly) and models constructed: although often the casual observer might question the extent to which these are […]

Fighting the Fat (or Not): Behavioural Insight

With levels of obesity increasing, efforts are being made in several of the countries affected to find a way of getting overweight people to stop cramming high calorie food into their mouths on a regular basis. Diet is a fascinating area, since it’s one in which many people have first hand experience of what I call “the Mind Gap” – the space that exists between the unconscious and conscious mind.  In this case it’s experienced when people make firm commitments to lose weight, commitments that they have with complete (conscious) conviction at the time, then find that after an initial period of success their weight returns to its previous level.  Sometimes they ascribe their return to greater mass to mystic forces or an underlying medical condition, but more often they realise that they’ve not been sticking to the good intentions they made and, in a distracted moment, have taken it upon themselves to […]