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May/June 2012 ISSUE 26

Marketingmatters

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NEWS

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FRANKLY THINKING
The recent unprecedented rise in the cost of postage has hit businesses hard, but pensioners and other vulnerable groups even harder, courtesy of the industry lapdog, Ofcom.

Those buying second-class stamps now have to pay 50 pence each for them, a rise of 39% from the previous 36 pence. Those with franking machines now pay a minimum second-class rate of 31 pence, up 11% from 28 pence.

Naturally most are aware that the billions of extra profit generated will be spent on improvements to the service, and certainly not on much more generous salaries, expenses and pensions for Royal Mail senior management, perish the thought.

Those that are not could be wondering if the huge price gap now yawning between franked and stamped mail doesn't open up a market for selling a franked mail service to those who now have to pay through the nose for stamps. Our libraries, for instance, hit by the same e-revolution that has decreased postal demand, might be able to raise some much-needed revenue in this way, while providing a valuable service for local people bringing in their mail to be franked. Just a thought..........

 

BOOTS CON PENSIONERS
Marketeers at Boots have told millions of pensioners that the loyalty benefits on their Advantage cards have been "upgraded" when in fact they have been downgraded.

Until recently the over-60's got a 10% discount on own-brand products, and then 4 Advantage points (4 pence) for every pound spent. This meant that products priced at £10 would cost £9 with the 10% discount and then attract a further discount of 4 pence in the pound on £9 (36 pence) making a total of £8.64. Now, under what Boot's slippery marketeers describe as an upgrade the number of Advantage points has been increased to 10 per £1 but the 10% discount scrapped, so what used to cost £8.64 now costs £9.

Unfortunately for Boot's wily marketing department other Boot's staff were more honest with customers telling them that under the new scheme "You are actually slightly worse off", a comment that was picked up by the BBC's Watchdog programme, along with some comments from pensioners such as "Boots are obviously assuming that anyone over 60 can’t do the maths".

 

ADVANCE FEE FRAUDS STILL ACTIVE
Enough UK business types are still gullible enough to make the advance fee frauds worth chancing, it seems.

An example is the letter recently received from someone calling himself Thwaite Ho, from China. Our Thwaite claims to be to be a private investment manager managing the 17.5 million dollar estate of a deceased chap with the same family name as the recipients of his letter, and generously offers to share the money, urging that he be contacted soonest via his fax number or email address.

Of course anyone with more than one brain cell will know that the next stages are that Thwaite and his gang demand increasing amounts of fees for bank costs, legal costs and any others they can think up, prior to requesting details of their victim's bank account - to pay millions of dollars into of course - and then obligingly emptying it.

Sadly, as Thwaite and our Fraud Squad know, greed will suck a proportion of our business population into this one.

 

CONSCIENCE BEFORE ACCOUNTANCY
Latest firm to be censured for legal tax avoidance is SABMiller, brewers of Grolsch and Peroni beers.

According to Ethical Consumer magazine research from ActionAid showed that the firm avoids millions in tax by shifting profits out of poor countries, such as those in Africa, and into tax havens like Switzerland. If SABMiller paid tax in Africa then ActionAid have calculated that an additional 250,000 African children could get an education.

Students at the University of Edinburgh have boycotted all SABMiller beers.

 

LESS PRODUCT, SAME PRICE (OR MORE.)
Supermarkets are now selling smaller packs for the same price, or more, in the quest for profits, according to Which? the consumer's association.

Examples given were:

o Morrisons.

Branston Smooth Pickle. Was 405g for £1.47. Now 360g for £1.54.
Cheerios Crunchers. Was 375g for £2.09. Now 360g for £2.09
Streamline reduced sugar blackcurrant jam. Was 454g for £1.69. Now 400g for £1.69.
Ambrosia Creamed Semolina. Was 425g for 86 pence. Now 400g for 86 pence

o Sainsbury's.

Fox Malted Milk Creams. Was 200g for £1.09. Now 160g for £1.19 .
Dairylea Cheese Spread. Was 200g for 99 pence. Now 160g for 99 pence.
Birds Eye Crispy Chicken. Was 360g for £2.00. Now 340g for £2.00

o Asda

Bernard Matthews Turkey Ham. Was 340g for £2.66. Now 300g for £2.66.
Fairy All in One Dishwasher Tablets. Was 28 tablets for £5.00. Now 26 tablets for £5.00
Pampers Baby-Dry nappies. Was 32 nappies for £6.48. Now 30 nappies for £6.48.

They'll get you one way or the other, it seems.

 

LATTE NOTICE
Wetherspoons fans who love the group's quality Lavazza coffee at 69 pence a cup have recently been a bit let down over the sudden cancellation of the coffee collectors card promotion.

Under this scheme drinkers got a free large mug of the stuff for every five cups or mugs they bought, with a collectors card being stamped each time. However now this excellent promotion has been cancelled it has left a number of Wetherspoons customers with stamped coffee cards that are useless, staff telling them that "the promotion cost us more than it was worth".

Wetherspoons have a well-deserved reputation for straight dealing in their marketing and they might have therefore considered honouring the cards with stamps on in some way, whilst not giving out any new ones. One for their marketing team to consider?

 

ANOTHER GOOD ONE FOR WATCHDOG
Another worthwhile target for acid Annie Robinson and her Watchdog team would be their employers, the BBC.

For years now their TV Licensing division has employed vacuous bluster and bullying to collect its licence fees, largely undeserved in the opinion of many. One feature is that they write inviting previous licence holders to advise them that they no longer need one, and then tell them that they will be getting a visit from their investigators anyway, on the basis that they could be lying. Another is that they keep threatening to send in their investigators if they don’t get a response and then fail to back up their threats with action.

Not impressive, so go for them Annie, unless of course it's more than your job's worth...........


READER REPLY

1) From Su Hayward-Lewis
Subject: Supermarket Labelling

When will supermarkets learn the we customers don't care about how many calories in 100grams. We just want to know the calorie content of the whole packet or tin including their own brands which you sometimes need a magnifying glass to read and still can't find!!! I have put items back on the shelf because I can't find information on the packet.

All supermarkets need to develop the KISS policy - Keep it simple stupid......

Su Hayward-Lewis


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