Monday, 27 March 2017

is this why bus and train companies get so much stick?

Wherever you look on social media, it seems all bus and trains companies get is criticism - no matter how positive the message they are trying to get out.

Now, thanks to an article I've just read by Rory Sutherland, vice-chairman of Ogilvy Group UK, I have better understanding as to why that may be.

According to Rory, the very option of choice generally makes us like something more. So shoes, houses, cars, supermarkets etc the thinking can be applied to near enough everything. This leaves the the likes of public services and monopolies under appreciated even when they do a good job objectively - simply because it's harder to like something when you have no choice in it.

It is this sort of resentment that leads to people who will happily pay £200 for a pair of shoes getting miffed at paying their electricity bill or council tax - it's the principle that they don't have a choice in paying, rather than how much they're paying.

And the more I think about it, the more Rory's words made sense in relation to public transport. Obviously, some people are choosing the bus per se over another form of transport but most of the time they have no choice of operator - it's the bus with company X or no bus at all. Likewise with train travel, where competition (and thereby choice) is equally as sparse.

If you don't like the place where you currently buy something, you can choose to take your business elsewhere. If you don't have that choice, you moan. A lot. Makes sense when you think about it.

You can follow Rory on Twitter here.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Virgin Trains launch Domestic Automated Device series

Yet again Virgin are the train company to do something a little different, with a sense of humour that is bob on their brand.

This cheeky video, released on Twitter, introduces their new range of Domestic Automated Devices to help mums enjoy a relaxing Mother's Day this Sunday.

Love it (watch until the end for some great T&C).

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

belVita Breakfast Biscuits and a rail commute to the capital

To be honest, I don't know that much about belVita Breakfast Biscuits, nor do I know a lot about getting to work in the morning with South West Trains.

But if the smile on my face from watching this ad is anything to go by, I'm not sure either of those things actually matters...

Monday, 6 March 2017

if Carlsberg did bus stops...

While the UK is known for its sorry bus stops, despite some creative grassroots efforts to improve them, Singapore’s bus stops are already pretty decent. 

But what if the humble bus stop could be a place you actually looked forward to frequenting? That’s the question the Singaporean firm DP Architects aimed to answer. “We wanted to redesign a commonplace thing we take for granted,” says Seah Chee Huang, the firm’s director.

Now, thanks to DP Architects in collaboration with various agencies of the Singaporean government, there’s a bus stop in Jurong, an area in the southwest of the island, that has elements you might find in a café, park, or your living room—all places you’d probably prefer over a bus stop.

The stop features ample seating, a rack of books geared for all ages, from Enid Blyton to Ray Bradbury, bicycle parking, a swing, artwork by the local illustrator Lee Xin Li, and a rooftop garden, complete with a small tree.

In addition to the print books, users can scan a QR code to download e-books from the National Library, charge their phones, and peruse interactive digital boards that provide arrival times and a journey planner to find the fastest route. Screens also broadcast information on weather, news, and local events. Solar panels help offset electricity use.

It’s no accident that the bus stop is in Jurong. The government has made this area a testing site for “smart” innovations, in line with its initiative, launched in 2014, to make Singapore a 'smart nation'. Technologies being developed include driverless vehicles, lights that dim or brighten in response to motion, and an automated system that senses when trash bins need emptying.

The bus stop has been in operation for six months, and in another six the government will determine which of its features to potentially include in other stops. Much depends on the public’s feedback, says Khoong Hock Yun, the assistant chief executive officer of the government’s Infocomm Media Development Authority, which has a hand in the project.

Khoong says that so far, it’s clear that one of the most popular elements is the phone charging station. “Cell phone batteries are never updated fast enough for us,” he laughs. “People always need chargers.” Passengers are also making good use of the interactive boards, he says.

Seah of DP Architects hopes his firm will have the opportunity to design more stops. “We want to make waiting for Singapore’s buses a joyful and enriching experience,” he says.

All images courtesy of Infocomm Media Development Authority.
Story blatently nicked from

Friday, 3 March 2017

is there a better way forward for the supermarkets?

Although consumers may have a favourite supermarket, more often than not, convenience and location are the reason for that choice.

Makes sense when you consider most towns have a plethora of supermarkets, and they all sell near enough the same thing.

As a family we spend about £80 a week online with Tesco, £10 a few times a week at the local Co-op and £30 at the local butcher twice a month. The only one I'm loyal to is the butcher - a specialist who offers a real point of difference - better quality, better prices and a better service. We've always shopped at Tesco (Clubcard vouchers do come in handy) and the Co-op is on the school run. Pure convenience in how we shop.

I write this because both Sainsbury's and Tesco have new ad campaigns out at the moment, with spending that must run into many millions. Personally, no matter what any of the big shops say in terms of campaign messaging trying to get me to switch, the likelihood of us doing so is zero. Like the vast majority, we shop where we shop because of convenience not advertising.

So rather than spend millions chasing potential customers who are unlikely to switch 'allegiance', how else could they spend their ad millions to get a more realistic ROI? Encouraging me to spend more in store/when I log on (incentives, discounts etc)? Making the stores more inviting? Improving loyalty schemes? The list goes on...

Supermarkets will always gain new customers but they will do so as a consequence of convenience rather than the effect of successful advertising.