Useful Swiss Consumer Programme – From Scams to Dried mushrooms, Toothbrushes and Tea.

If you are interested in consumer issues and want to know more about the products you buy here in French speaking Switzerland, it’s worth taking a look at the weekly television programme called ABE (A Bon Entendeur) presented by Manuelle Pernod and broadcast on Tuesday evenings on RTS1 at 20:10

Divonne and Food Products 018

A regular look at the products we buy

This consumer progamme takes a regular look at many of the products we all buy in the main Swiss supermarkets and shops. It compares brands, analyses the content of many food products and draws conclusions for the consumer. Even if you only understand a basic amount of French, these programmes are well produced, can be easily understood and the conclusions are illustrated in graph form or with clear photos. 

Housing, Transport, Insurance etc

The programme also looks at other consumer issues such as housing, transport, insurance etc.  The website of the programme has useful links to consumer associations and  links to consumer rights groups.

The products featured over the last few weeks have been on a variety of items such as electric toothbrushes (their conclusion – buying the most expensive product in the shop isn’t necessarily the best!)  Scroll to around 4 minutes on the programme here to see the result on this particular test.

Divonne and Food Products 020

Pesticides in Mushrooms and Herbal Teas

Another programme broadcast on February 18th featured the packets of dried mushrooms that can be found for sale in recognised retail outlets. It explained which packets of mushrooms contain pesticides and other chemicals, and which brand of mushrooms was rated the best all round. 

For lovers of herbal tea  another programme revealed the content of some well recognised tea brand names, the results can be seen on this clip here 

Divonne and Food Products 014

Scam targeting local businesses

This week’s programme revealed a scam that involved small businesses being approached (one of them in Versoix) to take out and pay up front for advertising in a magazine that simply didn’t exist.

The programme has been on air for many years and there’s lots of archive material to be found on their site.  There is even an ABE app!



Living in Grandvaux and planning strategies for companies – Interview with U.S author Woody Wade

Woody Wade is a futurist and author. In his role as a consultant to Swiss organisations planning their future strategies, his role is to help them visualise how their business environment might change, depending on how trends and uncertainties unfold over the next few years. “I help managers of companies get ready for changes they might face in the future by first, recognising what those changes could be,” he says. “That’s already a big step.”

Living in Nyon asked Woody, a native of Indiana, how he came to be living amongst the vineyards in Grandvaux (a village with a population just over 2,000), above Cully in the heart of the Lavaux wine-growing region.  “The Reader’s Digest version of the story,” he says, “is that I came to work in Switzerland intending to stay ‘for three years’ – that was in 1982. As happens with so many people, Switzerland quickly got its velvet claws in me, so thirty years later, I’m still here, very happy and in no hurry to leave. For the first seven years, I lived in the German part of the country, but then I had a chance to move to Lausanne, and I’ve never looked back.  Where I live now, in Grandvaux, I’m perched 300 metres above the lake with a panoramic view that is always changing, always energising. It’s a wonderful place to live and work, an easy drive to Lausanne, Vevey, or the Geneva airport.  Peace and quiet, some good restaurants and caveaux nearby – I’m really very privileged.”

In Woody’s new book Scenario Planning: A Field Guide to the Future, he explores several ways the world might be different a decade from now – and he makes the case for using a structured approach called scenario planning to try and foresee how the changes could arise – and how different the world may be if they do.

What is an example of a trend that could change companies’ competitive footing in the future?

“One of the biggest changes going on all around us, but so slowly we almost don’t feel it, is demographic,” Woody says.  Birth rates have dropped.  So a world with fewer young people than a generation ago could realistically change the “landscape” 10 years from now. This has huge implications for anyone that wants talented young people to join their organisation – and that means just about everybody.

When Woody gives presentation to companies he often illustrate the challenges ahead by using the Swiss Army as an example of an organisation facing a shortage of human resources in the future – although he is quick to point out, we will all be in the same boat, not just the Swiss Army.  “We will be living in a world where the pool of talent will be shrinking,” he says.  Simply put, lower birth rates mean fewer kids.  A little further down the line, fewer kids mean fewer graduates, fewer apprentices, fewer new hires – and for the Swiss Army, fewer 19-year-old recruits.

So what can the Swiss Army – and any organisation – do now to get ready for this situation? Woody shows alternative ways the army might address the problem, from forging rather unusual strategic alliances to outsourcing military bands. “I make light of it this in subject in  my talks, but it’s a serious issue, and companies really do need to be thinking about it today,” he says.

You can find out more about Woody’s work and contact here via his own website.