Posts Tagged ‘corporate events’

Reading Seth’s blog earlier on the endless search for wow, his closing paragraph (quoted including his punctuation) makes a lot of sense to me… “In the race between ‘who’ and ‘how many’, who usually wins – if action is your goal. Find the right people, those that are willing to listen to what you have to say, and ignore the masses that are just going to race on, unchanged.”

As a challenger brand, we are completely focussed on who, and for the time being at least, we largely ignore the how many; as independents, there’s little prospect and indeed little point in us going flat-out to spend money we don’t have to convince people to try AQUAPAX if they prefer flavoured / carbonated beverages, or if they really don’t have any feeling for the purity and integrity of our product and what it stands for. If you’re cool with plastic then why would we want to give you a free AQUAPAX?

The essence of what Seth wrote is to do with branding and brand identification / acceptance by the market, yet at another level, Seth is wrong. Marketing is just one facet of business and while it’s the one we consider most important, a recent investment of $22M by Siva Group for 50% of a Norwegian water brand shows that smoke and mirrors (wow by any other name) still applies if you’re trying to seduce an investment manager within a $3Bn portfolio and seemingly little grasp of reality.

The brand in question bought retail market share at the expense of margin (and at real cost) with a ‘me too’ product under increasing ecological scrutiny, yet the investment community sees the mass distribution achieved and believes this will translate into long-term sustainable (presumably profitable?) market share.

With a low value product like water, I question how a production base in Norway can translate into a globally competitive and profitable business for a mid range brand, but that’s really not our problem… the investment managers who made the call probably have their own plans to sell on to some other gullible fund manager when the time is right for them.

We can’t consider the specifics of ‘precisely how’ as we follow our path – the one Seth and others in touch with the zeitgeist advocate as correct. We’re turning over every stone and moving in the right direction, in the UK, France and in Holland. AQUAPAX (our award-winning natural mineral water, that’s packaged in paper cartons and which is so pure it’s even suitable for babies) is the change we want everyone to experience. While we are proud of AQUAPAX appearing as the mineral water of choice in 5 star resorts on the Maldives and the Caribbean, we’re also intrigued that we haven’t yet had the umpteen million dollar offer for our shares!

It is pleasing though, that we keep on touching folk who care enough about what we’re doing, to pass on our message through their own free will and belief that it’s right and that our time has come. We also have some larger scale distribution up our sleeves to soon make it a little easier for you to refresh on the move without feeling guilty. I wonder how investment managers define all that within their ‘wow based’ business plans?


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There’s a degree of hypocrisy among many well meaning folk with fundamentally good intentions but closed minds. They hear or read a little about something and become disciples of the cause, without really understanding anything about the process or ‘thing’ they’re advocating.

Everything is fundamentally recyclable or capable of re-use for some purpose other than which it was originally created, and at the risk of being called a heretic, being recyclable is not ‘the holy grail’ when making a product choice. The order for thinking people who really want to minimise their planetary impact should be (a.) do I need to consume this? (b.) is this the most sustainable option? (c.) am I compromising my personal tastes or quality standards? (d.) do I have the means to afford my choice?

Embracing product sustainability as opposed to base level recyclability is the next step we need to teach the masses, which is quite a technically challenging communication to execute.

Most folk don’t want detail; they’re happy to know a little about something and to close their minds to any ignorance. That is human nature, so we shouldn’t knock it, but I do so appreciate consumers who take the time to ask why, and who more importantly, open their minds to listen to the answer.

To bring today’s piece around to bottled water (as you’re expecting me to); portable packaged water is a unique product within a media driven customer psyche. The ‘moral’ decision for ‘planet conscious’ consumers is whether to ever buy into this product category at all. Bear witness the small Australian town of Bundanoon’s recent headline grabbing bottled water ban, which I’ve previously blogged on.

Considering the alternatives are either fattening, contain sugars, additives or alcohol, most thinking people will accept the necessary evil of a pure beverage as a distress solution when there is no tap accessible. That doesn’t oblige consumption; it simply allows choice for when one doesn’t choose to hydrate with any of the aforementioned alternatives.

As customer focussed businesses, retailers and caterers are obliged to service customer needs, so they cannot be criticised too severely for stocking this product category, however, their commitment to CSR should be challenged…

A well thought out CSR policy must drive a sustainable procurement approach – one where satisfying customer needs in an ecologically sensitive way, without compromising product quality, is appropriately weighted on the ‘decision scorecard’ being used.

A parochial approach to bottled water so often leads to customer choice being restricted to whichever bottled water is packaged closest to where it’s being consumed, irrespective of its quality or true ecological impact. This geographic weighting ignores the genuine attributes of products which often come from further away, yet are proven to ‘cost less’ on any correctly weighted ecologically motivated score card.

Think inside the box – we’re only custodians of this maginificent planet, and it really does make sense! 🙂

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Yesterday was the day and a fine old affair it was too… Beautiful weather, a comprehensive array of talented business professionals as the speakers, and a box of guests who were good fun to be with. Well you don’t really want to spend a day in a box with people you’d rather not be with, let’s face it.

The video showreel, in case you missed it up on the BIG screen at the Royal Albert Hall is here and the link to the IoD convention website is here for a more comprehensive overview of the day.

The best part for me, was seeing more than 2000 people drinking Aquapax in one place at one time and smilling while listening to the iconic c-l-i-i-c-c-k noise resounding around the wonderful Royal Albert Hall as the ‘celebrity’ guest speakers opened their Aquapax to refresh themselves on stage. That and listening to Sir Stuart Rose, who made a lot of sense to me! So much so, I’ve even written to him today to try and take his inspiration a little further…

Oh yes and the morning presentation from The King of Shaves Company (Tim Wright) was pretty good too. It’s a good speaker who engages with his audence and doesn’t need to constantly refer to his own notes and Tim is a good speaker.

I hope to put some photos of the IOD convention in the photos section of this blog soon, so do come back to see if you can identify yourself captured on camera…

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These words form part of the design across the top of our beautiful new Aquapax carton (thanks again SunHouse) – they are personal and inspired in part by the wonderfully under-recognised poet Mr. Bob Dylan. I wasn’t much into Bob when I was growing up, but my brother Paul was and the song ‘tangled up in blue’ was one where the words always sounded ‘easier’ on my then young ears, despite not really understanding their meaning at the time. (give me a break it was 1974 and I’m not that old… yet)

‘There’s revolution in the air’ now sums up a feeling for where we are right here and now, with growing global consciousness and finally some genuinely powerful leaders who care for our planet. We simply haven’t had this critical mass until now and I can literally feel the change growing.

It is abundantly clear to me that there are so many organisations which treat their environmental policies the same way Enron treated their code of ethics policy. (it was 36 pages long apparently). Their first response to any introduction is ‘how much?’ which remains their only defense to supposed leaders watching over them as to why they aren’t prepared to even try something different.

Very soon, these ‘organisations’ (includes political parties, councils, small and large companies and other ‘entities’) are going to have to stand up and be counted. Words have meanings and non-specific environmental policies with fluffy words and an original intent of boosting a share price, or winning kudos or votes will very soon have to be invoked.

Bring on the revolution Bob – it’s Aquapax time…

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I watched the best part of the 11th hour (Leonardo Di Caprio) film over the weekend and have renewed admiration for the ‘actor’ who’s followed his conscience in talking about the inconvenient truth of climate change. How many people around the world have seen this shocking documentary style film and the more poignant question, how many people around the world have heard its message?

‘Padling our canoe’ as I’ve previously described our intention to change the bottled water market away from its blind acceptance of polluting oil based plastic bottles and seriously carbon intensive glass bottles, to a more sensible and ecologically pragmatic paper carton (AQUAPAX), is a challenging task – but nothing compared to the mantle young Leonardo has raised his game to take on.

Admitted he’s a touch more famous than me, but hats off to the boy, he’s opted for the proverbial ‘road less travelled’ and he’s making a cracking job of it.

Pondering on the very real ‘ecological awareness’ message getting through, I met with Phil over at Impression Sailing & Events today and while I didn’t ask if he’d seen the film, his honest understanding of what we’re doing as a business and his sincere readiness to support an initiative he believes in, irrespective of its direct commercial return to his thriving business, shows true leadership in his field. Interestingly, ‘Impression Events’ have no grandiose environmental statements, nor ethical statements or privacy statements designed to satisfy the need for politically correct benchmarks, yet they walk the walk. That counts a great deal in my book and I’m proud to put a link to their site from our links page. Besides that, their pure passion for what they do is a pleasure to read and I urge anyone looking to ‘go sailing’ to look them up beforehand.

Regular readers of my blog will know I’ve previously cited the example of Enrons 64 page code of ethics document and what a mockery that company made of the whole subject. That’s not to say the rank and file Enron employees didn’t believe, but it sure as heck shows their board hadn’t bothered to read what they signed up to. Funnily enough, I’ve met with a few other companies this month and a similar thought crossed my mind regarding how much of their own words their representatives have read and/or believe in.

Employing public facing staff – now that’s a real 11th hour decision for any growing business (sorry Leonardo) – no intention to trivialise the important subject I started on, but representing a business is clearly about more than words on a website and businesses need to be more consistent about using words they believe in, and/or employing staff who speak of things as they really are…

Stay positive – I know there’s still a lot of good people out there – I met a number of them on Friday doing a demo at the John Lewis food hall in Oxford Street – but that’s a blog for another day!


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