Archive for August, 2008

We’ve been completely blessed with the summer so far this year, as weekend shows promoting water are no fun at all when it rains. By and large (why do people say that?) we’ve had tremendous weekend weather wherever we’ve been and the last couple of weekends have been no exception. We camped over (literally) at Hatfield House on the weekend of the 17th August and had the luxury of travelling back to homes this weekend when we did the Hampton Court Show. Pity really as we missed the chance to sample some wonderful Stowford Press cider.

We’ve taken to going indoors in the food halls or cookery demonstration halls at the shows, as folk tend to make those destination points when they visit a country show; even if they do often wander in with an overpriced bottle of warm and plastic tasting water in their hands that they’ve begrudgingly procured from some grubby ice cream van.

We’ve been giving out free tasting samples – often abused by the few at the expense of the many, as the reality is people aren’t yet completely familiar with Aquapax, which is why we’re there in the first place. (Also to promote our Best Bottled Water of 2008 win and to try and make contact with a few retail chairmen or board members having a day out with their families.) A food hall environment is not only dry when it rains outside, but it’s an area where people stay open minded and receptive to finding out more about something new and innovative. Buying a genuine high quality product at a bargain show price is also great for marketing, as people don’t like being exploited when they’re in a captive market scenario.

Hagar continues to be a real brick and the mainstay of our outdoor event management committee. I generally turn up with a car full of stock (and as much ice as my little freezer can produce) and we work the stands together, but his enthusiasm for engaging with even quite challenging potential customers has made him quite the expert on Tetra Pak recycling and indeed on the subject of water quality as well.

This weekend was a double hitter, as we also sponsored the water for the children’s’ parade at the London Notting Hill Carnival on Sunday and I was really disappointed not to have been able to get down there for a few souvenir photos of the event; our first large scale outdoor venture.

As companies grow, people take for granted a promotional give away for a few thousand people, but when you’re a small business these things cost real money and not being there to share in the atmosphere makes them somehow more expensive.

There’s something quite poetic about our 2 London events being so high profile yet so distinctly different as the Institute of Directors Annual Convention at the Royal Albert Hall and then on to the largest street party in Europe. We know our product quality spans all market segments, so it’s only appropriate that we spread our marketing budgets accordingly too.

The prize for the silly objection of this weekend goes to an unknown and rather sad faced lady who had a go at Hagar – despite his genuinely cheerful disposition – and levelled the criticism that our bottled water price is outrageous, (we weren’t selling the bottled water madam, they were the props) based on the fact that her son apparently pays just 1p for a plastic bottle of water in Dubai.  There’s no real answer to some people not getting a marketing proposition so badly, and we must try and find some more formal way to recognise their extreme reactions without causing a food fight… 🙂


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Why? we keep on being asked… Because I grew up on a beach and every time we are out walking on a beach or in the countryside, we are distracted by plastic bottles which will never ever go away… all it took was one plastic bottle too many to turn an otherwise rational businessman into the ethical and environmental entrepreneur within.

The funky and compact Aquapax is the result – a majority sustainable and wholly recyclable paper carton containing a premium quality pure mineral water that’s even suitable for infants (no nitrates). We had to look beneath a protected nature park in Germany to get our Aquapax packaged with suitable quality water. The Tetra Pak carton we’re using is already accepted over there as the only one-way package that’s exempt from package deposit tax (because it’s environmentally advantageous) which made the alliance pitch with the packer a little easier. – Yes we have carbon balanced the business so there is less net carbon impact from food miles than with a comparable UK bottled water (if you could find one that tastes the same) and besides, I’m not aware of any plastic bottles starting their life in oil wells located across the home counties…

It’s all about customer service now, as more and more retail and wholesale customers give us space for a trial, we simply blow them away with a responsive and focused customer care that big business pays marketing consultants to talk about. It’s really not that difficult – just close your eyes every now and then and visualise who your customer is and what they want – that’s what customer service is fundamentally all about.

Aquapax are currently on sale throughout the UK and Ireland through independent minded wholesalers and retailers, with a loyal distribution base that keeps on growing encouragingly. In fact there’s a great correlation between how our sales are going and the degree of take up for carton recycling across the UK. Carton recycling is currently up to 85% of all councils in the UK – not bad really despite the urban myth still suggesting they’re impossible to recycle (wrong!).

If you believe strongly enough in something, sometimes, you just have to create the change yourself. I know there are others who understand – they’re the ones buying Aquapax and we’ve just encountered our first competition in the North American market…

Join the revolution why don’t you? Plastic is passé and glass is oh so pretentious…  🙂

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Life continues at pace with weekends whizzing into weeks and back into weekends again – a good way to tell the difference is that people smile more at the weekends…

Last weekend Hagar manned the stand (ok it’s a gazebo) at the St Mary Bourne village fete and a sunny old affair it was too. If only more villages were as community minded as the folk in St Mary Bourne, the world would be a nicer place.

They turned out in force to support their local community event in the gloriously sunny weather. It made a change to not have to explain what an Aquapax is to people as well, considering The Village Shop (run by the community for the community) is supporting our quest and selling Aquapax to thirsty residents and visitors alike. It is quite amazing how people with taste will always find a way to get hold of our wonderful water and thanks must go to Diana for the particularly amazing support she has shown for Aquapax…

Hagar had ‘the long straw’ on this occasion as I got to do store merchandising in Brighton on Saturday, followed by a long over due family BBQ on the Sunday. Both of these have potential to be a real pain, but fortunately, the BBQ went down really well and despite a lot more smoke than usual – the weather held out and the food was very tasty. My family seemed to enjoy themselves and the Brighton shopkeepers showing support were happy with their POS material promoting our recent QATRAH award win.

This weekend we’ll be making an appearance down at Newquay for the ‘Unleashed Music Festival’ in Watergate Bay – our friends at Good Mood Food will be manning the Chickpea Chariot and helping revellers quench their hunger and thirst with Aquapax and the best falafals outside of London (where they’re normally based). Falafals and water (perhaps a little wine too) it’s the only way to dance – or is that trance?

We’re also planning our mission for this year’s Cowes sailing week where we have a fabulous speedboat for the Monday and Tuesday and are hoping to tie in with a yacht to further promote Aquapax to the crowds thereafter. Aquapax is proving a hit with the sailing fraternity, as they have to take water for hydration on board their boats, but are fed up with the fact that empty plastic bottles take up as much space as full ones.

We were on board 3 of the first 4 yachts in the around Ireland race in June and should be on a few more boats for the Cowes to Madeira race taking place later in August. There’s at least one boating and marine safety retailer satisfying the demand so far and the intention is to find some more during the week ahead.

As if that all weren’t enough, the new Aquapax design (remember the guy named Tom) is coming together very nicely, thanks to him and his friends Nina and Susie, and the trip to the USA to take Aquapax over there with Robert and his boss Terry – haven’t met him, but Robert says he’s cool, is coming together with the passport office having returned my new passport today.

So it’s all looking very rosy indeed one way or another – stay tuned for further up-dates…

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