Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Merry Christmas

Les Echos, the French business newspaper, announced today that champagne wine makers have more than 1,3 billion bottles in storage. Yes, billions!

In other words, more than 5 years worth of sales, up from 3,6 years worth of stock only a year ago.

Cash flow problems due to recession have tempted some of the champagne houses to reduce prices significantly to increase sales, and for the first time this year you can find champagne for less than €10 per bottle.

My guess is that we are heading for a magnificent, less expensive festive season for lovers of sparkling, wonderful champagne. For consumers, that is, and not for the wine makers having to discount their precious, bubbly wine.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Customers' trust in banks rock-bottom

Aite recently published a survey of US, UK and French customers' trust in banks, and the results should receive top attention in banks' boardrooms.

The results show that trust is dramatically low, and that financial turmoil, banks being bailed out by governments, while others still insist on paying huge bonuses to employees of mis-managed banks, have contributed to customers loosing faith in banks.

When only 6-7% of customers, or 1 in 20 customers, give or take a few, in France and the UK express very much trust in their primary bank provider, I would be worried if I were a board director. Even more so if you look at the data for general banking trust, where hardly anyone has very much trust in banks, and only one in three (US) to one in eight (UK) customers somewhat trust banks.

Banks have a long way to go in re-building trust with their customers to get up to decent levels again. A first step would be to avoid negative press by ensuring that salaries are kept at decent levels, and that bonuses are paid only when achieving objectives that contribute to build shareholder value and customer satisfaction.