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Economy

What’s in a box? A tale of mass production

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Come closer, I want to tell you a story. It is about a group of people who lived somewhere in the middle of an ocean, on a wonderful island. Paradise! Life was very good.

The island had a warm but moderate climate and naturally provided enough food for everyone with the minimum of cultivation. There was also very good fishing around the coast.

Each day involved a certain amount of work in the fields or in the boats, but nothing excessive, and everyone made sure that the routine was regularly interrupted for siestas and fiestas. There was plenty of time to relax, and the population made a point of enjoying the sunshine and family life.

Anyone observing the islanders from afar would have considered them as a group of holidaymakers and not farmers or workers.

Although the weather was usually balmy, there were a few storms during the rainy season, and it was after one particularly violent overnight squall, that early one morning, two fishermen came across a strange object on the beach. It had been driven ashore by the exceptional tide and strong winds.

The fishermen had never seen anything like it before.

They approached it cautiously at first, full of curiosity, but at the same time somewhat fearful. Prodding and poking with their fishing sticks provoked no reaction. The men became braver and made a closer inspection.

As they got closer, the detail of the object became apparent. It was a box; blue-black in colour and decorated with strange dials, handles and knobs. The short sides of the box were each punctured by oblong slits, squid-inky black, which seemed like silent lures into the menacing shadows within.

When the openings were tested with sticks, there was some resistance, and a low purring or humming sound would rise from deep inside the box, followed by a whirring and clanking vibration. It was all very strange.

After much discussion, the council of elders decided to leave well alone. The box was moved nearer the village, away from the water’s edge and gradually forgotten. It bothered no one and no one bothered it.

The story how the power of the box was later rediscovered has been repeated many times. With additions and omissions and poetic embellishments, the tale became a myth and thus, like a maturing wine, through time and anticipation, transformed into a legend.

The basic fact is, that one day, during an early morning harvest, a coconut got pushed through one of the slits in the box. It is immaterial whether this happened accidently or was the result of some capricious experimentation fuelled by listlessness. The young lady responsible, whose name was Anesidora, later, as we shall read, became (justifiably) famous.

Her action had a profound impact on the lives of the islanders and explanations and analyses of her discovery can now be found in all respected history, business and psychology texts and journals. Although no longer with us, she is still celebrated variously, in different communities, as the mother of mass production, the sister of shopping or the champion of consumption.

The power in the box first manifested itself with a simple operation. The coconut pushed in one end of the box, came out of the other side in two.

It was Anesidora who was the first to realise that this had profound implications for all their livelihoods. No more chopping coconuts in half. All that hard manual work would be taken away. There would be more time for siestas and fiestas. The box was a godsend!

At first the process itself was a wonder. Crowds gathered to listen to the whirring and clanking as a whole coconut went in one end and then watched amazed as a split shell popped out of the other. However, over time, interest in the wonder of the mechanism waned. People no longer bothered watching the splitting of the nuts. In fact, it was quite boring!

Some islanders even began complaining about the noise, especially when the box was operated early in the morning, or late at night. And this was occurring more and more often because the demand for split coconuts not only spread amongst the families on the island but also to the inhabitants of neighbouring archipelagos, who began to visit with various craft goods and other types of produce to exchange for the ready-split, takeaway nuts.

Anesidora decided early on that the work of harvesting the coconuts and feeding them into the box was not for her alone. She recruited several of the villagers to help collect the coconuts and feed them into the ‘input’ slot of the box. In order to keep up with the expanding demand, these workers were organised into shifts, and Anesidora had to arrange for payment in terms of meals for these people, because they no longer had free time to tend crops and feed themselves. Luckily, the workforce seemed pleased to accept takeaway coconut in exchange for their labour.

Anesidora’s organisation grew and prospered. Production and exchanges increased month by month; year by year. However, there were hiccups along the way. The biggest problem was maintaining efficiency. The labourers seemed not to want to work at full capacity throughout their shifts.  Production was slowed by lack of concentration, chatting and unauthorised toilet breaks. They complained that the job of collecting coconuts and simply feeding them into the box was boring, simplistic and repetitive.

It was all very mechanistic.

In response, Anesidora introduced a payment system based upon agreed targets in order to increase motivation. She also decided to select her workers more scientifically, and the best of these had their talent managed and developed through coaching, mentoring and ‘leadership’ workshops.

However, having gone a long way to solving the problems of production, Kernel Sidoras Inc (as the organisation was now called), found that sales were no longer increasing. The reasons for this slowdown were hazy. The customers were unclear when asked why they were buying less Ready-Split (as the product was now called). A majority of those surveyed mentioned lack of value or of just being bored with the product.

Once again, Anesidora was able to respond to this crisis of no growth. She consulted the local shaman. This enchantress knew of magical spells that could entrap and enthral all those that came under their charm. She called the witchcraft Branding, a subconscious deception created through the use of the hermetic art of advertising.

The initial illusionary image used in the ad campaign created by the Sham-Agency for Ready-Split became a future icon. It was the first example of experiential advertising.

The advertising did its job. Sale exchanges increased, production was increased, and Kernel Sidoras grew.

However, alerted by the prophetic warnings of the shaman (sometimes known as scenario planning), Anesidora did not rest. She undertook a series of experiments with the dials and knobs on her box, in an attempt to produce something other than Ready-Split from the output slit. After all, her ever- growing consumer base said they were desperate for something new.

After months of abortive trials and frustrations, Anesidora finally learned some of the secrets of the box. Although her knowledge was only partial, it was sufficient for her to coax entirely new products from the output slit.

The first attempts still betrayed their coconut origins.

But through trial and error, Anesidora gradually became more skilled in operating the mysterious controls until she felt that she was mistress of the box.

Thus, in conjunction with the Sham-Agency, Kernel Sidoras Inc launched a plethora of new products.

The majority taking their place in the pantheon of famous brands, because of the artistry and creativity encapsulated in their packaging and design.

The organisation enjoyed a period of unprecedented growth. More and more coconuts had to be sourced, harvested and shipped to the input slot. The box was worked 24/7.

It seemed that all available limits had been reached. The employees were working flat out. The markets were saturated. Consumers had enough things.

It was again that Anesidora showed her extraordinary powers of intuition and astuteness. She took herself off to the oracle at Saatchi and consulted the pysycho-shamam, Bernays. He told her of a wonderful and yet awesome knowledge that had been passed down to him from his uncle Fraudo. This knowledge had largely been ignored because it brought the message that all humans were irrational beings, driven by dark forces of greed, pride and lust. It was a truth that no one wanted to hear.

Bernays explained to Anesidora how this esoteric knowledge could be applied to branding. Products could be animated; they could take on a life of their own; things themselves could become personalities!

And people would readily blend their own selves with these thing-personalities. Their own identity would become indistinguishable from the brand identity. The emergent self was some ghostly hybrid performing a role written by Fraudo’s id.

This whole concept appealed to the mischievous Anesidora and within a few months of returning from Saatchi’s Oracle, a completely new range of coconut products were on the market. Each was carefully branded to appeal to the consumers’ brand self-identities, using Idvertising, (a new marketing technique developed (and copyrighted) by Anesidora herself).

There was a huge boost in sales. The workforce just could not cope with the new production rates that the new orders demanded. The organisation had to modernise and introduce automation in order to become more efficient.

This new machinery needed power, so some of the local coconut groves had to give way to generation plant.

And as the box was worked harder and harder, it wanted more power. Anesidora could sense the insatiable need in the box somehow reflecting her own desires.

From her new yacht, she wondered where it might all end.

…but the woman took off the great lid of the jar […] and caused sorrow and mischief to men. Only Hope remained” – Hesiod, The Homeric Hymns, and Homerica by Homer and Hesiod

Nigel Marlow is director of InnovationBubble and a consultant in the higher education sector. He is a member of the British Psychological Society and licentiate of the Forum for Business and Consumer Psychology. He presents at academic and business conferences and publishes articles in marketing, consumer and research journals.

Further reading:

Consuming nothing to consume everything

Behind The Story of Stuff – Part I

Behind The Story of Stuff – Part II

People love brands – but wouldn’t care if 73% disappear tomorrow

Ethical consumerism’s long journey to the mainstream

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Economy

Report: Green, Ethical and Socially Responsible Finance

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“The level of influence that ethical considerations have over consumer selection of financial services products and services is minimal, however, this is beginning to change. Younger consumers are more willing to pay extra for products provided by socially responsible companies.” Jessica Morley, Mintel’s Financial Services Analyst.

Consumer awareness of the impact consumerism has on society and the planet is increasing. In addition, the link between doing good and feeling good has never been clearer. Just 19% of people claim to not participate in any socially responsible activities.

As a result, the level of attention that people pay to the green and ethical claims made by products and providers is also increasing, meaning that such considerations play a greater role in the purchasing decision making process.

However, this is less true in the context of financial services, where people are much more concerned about the performance of a product rather than green and ethical factors. This is not to say, however, that they are not interested in the behaviour of financial service providers or in gaining more information about how firms behave responsibly.

This report focuses on why these consumer attitudes towards financial services providers exist and how they are changing. This includes examination of the wider economy and the current structure of the financial services sector.

Mintel’s exclusive consumer research looks at consumer participation in socially responsible activities, trust in the behaviour of financial services companies and attitudes towards green, ethical and socially responsible financial services products and providers. The report also considers consumer attitudes towards the social responsibilities of financial services firms and the green, ethical and socially responsible nature of new entrants.

There are some elements missing from this report, such as conducting socially responsible finance with OTC trading. We will cover these other topics in more detail in the future. You can research about Ameritrade if you want to know more ..

By this report today: call: 0203 416 4502 | email: iainooson[at]mintel.com

Report contents:

OVERVIEW
What you need to know
Report definition
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The market
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
The consumer
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Competition from technology companies
Financial services firms perceived to be some of the least socially responsible
Repaying the social debt
Consumer trust is built on evidence
What we think
ISSUES AND INSIGHTS
Creating a more inclusive economy
The facts
The implications
Payments innovation helps fundraising go digital
The facts
The implications
The social debt of the financial crisis
The facts
The implications
THE MARKET – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
PUTTING FINANCIAL SERVICES IN AN ETHICAL CONTEXT
An ethical economy
An ethical financial sector
Ethical financial services providers
GREEN, ETHICAL AND SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE ISSUES IN FINANCIAL SERVICES
The role of investing
Divestment
The change potential of pensions
The role of trust
Greater transparency informs decisions
Learning from past mistakes
The role of innovation
Payments innovation: Improving financial inclusion
Competition from new entrants
The power of new money
The role of the consumer
Consumers empowered to make a change
Aligning products with self
THE CONSUMER – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
For financial products, performance is more important than ethics
Financial services firms perceived to be some of the least socially responsible
Competition from technology companies
Repaying the social debt
Consumer trust is built on evidence
Overall trust levels are high
THE ETHICAL CONSUMER – SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE ACTIVITIES
Payments innovation can boost charitable donations
Consumer engagement in socially responsible activities is high
Healthier finances make it easier to go green
SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE COMPANIES
37% unable to identify socially responsible companies
Building societies seen to be more responsible than banks….
….whilst short-term loan companies are at the bottom of the pile
CONSUMER TRUST IN THE BEHAVIOUR OF FINANCIAL SERVICES COMPANIES
Overall trust levels are high
Tax avoidance remains a major concern
The divestment movement
Nationwide significantly more trusted
Trust levels remain high
CONSUMER ATTITUDES TOWARDS GREEN AND ETHICAL FINANCIAL PRODUCTS
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Socially conscious consumers are more concerned
CONSUMER ATTITUDES TOWARDS TRANSPARENCY
Strategy reports provide little insight for consumers
Lack of clarity regarding corporate culture causes concern
Consumers want more information
THE ROLE OF FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRMS IN SOCIETY
The social debt of the financial crisis
THE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRMS
For consumers, financial services firms play larger economic role
Promoting financial responsibility
CHALLENGER COMPANIES AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Consumer trust is built on evidence
The alternative opportunity
The target customer

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