February 11, 2013

Half the sky

The Futures Company, where I worked for almost a decade, releases extended articles on a regular basis. I had the good fortune to be involved in the early stage development of Women 2020 released in December 2012.

Now the final polished piece has come out, it’s great to have the opportunity to have a proper read through – which I highly recommend (albeit from a rather biased perspective)! It contains many interesting points and wide-ranging examples. Here are three things that caught my attention:

  1. If one charts the changes in women’s lives over the past half century, it is clear opportunities and experiences have changed radically. More women have got educated, up to higher levels and have entered the workplace. However, in some countries, there is a tension between women’s progress in terms of their role as economic agents, and the social and cultural role they are still expected to maintain. Interestingly, there are examples of where technology can help women play within the rules: in Nigeria, working women can have mobile phone conversations with male business colleagues. It would be otherwise unacceptable to meet these male colleagues alone in a face to face meeting.
  2. There is still much progress to be made before it can be said women have made it to the top.  To quote Sheryl Sandberg as cited in the report: ‘Of the 190 heads of state, nine are women. Of all the people in parliament in the world, 13% are women. In the corporate sector, women at the top, C level jobs and board seats, tops out at 15, 16%.’ However, it’s not just about the numbers – it’s also about corrosive attitudes. The characteristics usually associated with leadership are seen as typically male, and when women exhibit these traits, they make women unlikeable. As described in a recent HBS article, a woman runs the risk of being seen as ‘abrasive instead of assertive, arrogant instead of self-confident, and self-promoting instead of entrepreneurial.’
  3. We need to rethink the model of how careers progress when it comes to women if they have children. Rather than assuming that having a career means a neat straight upwards projectory, it becomes messier stairstepping – or what I would describe as ‘intermittent flatlining’. A woman will put things on hold whilst they are on maternity leave, and take it slower whilst her children are young, and pick up the pace again when they are older. This should mean things get interesting in the forties and fifties as oppose to the thirties.

As I haven’t yet left my thirties, it gives me hope yet!



June 16, 2012

Balancing pleasure and payment

Filed under: Consumer Trends,Marketing — by xrematon @ 10:00 pm
Tags: , ,

Having assiduously saved up Tesco Club Card vouchers over the course of more than a year, I have managed to get Legoland annual passes for all the family. As a result, I seem to be spending rather a lot of weekends swooping and squealing in Windsor. Thanks to the pass, and the fact we bring a picnic when we go, going to Legoland feels like a cheap day out, in particular as the weather has been so bad we have been able to avoid the siren call of ice creams.

But I have been struck how it would be easy to pay a lot of money for a day out at the resort. I did some quick calculations, and assuming we would want to make the most of our time there and so paid for all the different extras to avoid wasting time, the total could reach a staggering £500! The tickets would set you back £150, a tenner to be able to park the car close to the entrance, an additional £240 for the whizzy little QBot devices which means that none of the family has to wait to go on a ride (though admittedly this only covers about half of the rides). Then there is lunch, as well as some ice creams and hot dogs as they are so hard to resist with the kiosks dotted close to most rides and in the space where you queue. And then there is the dryer after getting soaked on Pirate Slash.

This scenario is perhaps a bit extreme and, to be fair, there are attempts to balance the payment opportunities with pleasure – some rides have screens installed in the areas where you wait, or there are Duplo bricks to play with. And then there are shows which you don’t need to queue for.

However, a day out at Legoland is likely to be pretty pricey, and it makes me think that most people must find a way of reducing the cost as we have done. For example, advance booking online drops the ticket price by up to 40%, it’s not hard to find other discounts or vouchers online and bringing one’s own food reduces further possible outlay.

Consumers have been living in ‘austerity’ for several years now and have become wise to these little tricks. According to research from The Futures Company 58% of UK consumers agree that ‘Since the recession I feel a greater need to be as self-sufficient as possible’.

My final word – to beat the queues, the biggest help has been the rubbish weather. My best Legoland experience was when we didn’t get there till 3pm and it was rainy and cold. By 5pm, not only were the queues very short, for some rides, we were the only customers, and they were put into operation for us alone, which to me, is the height of theme park decadence!

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