Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Can you identify the Business English idioms in this video?

LaCroix is a brand of flavored sparkling water that's really "catching on" in the USA. "Catch on" means to gain popularity. What other idioms do you hear in this news segment?
Watch the video


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Video on Gillette's strategy in the face of competition from new entrants



Gillette is changing its razor strategy based on increasing competition from startups. Can you identify the idioms used in this video?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Eight Business English Idioms to Discuss Success

The following is from a Wall Street Journal entitled How to Survive Being an Overnight Success. Getting quick success as an entrepreneur sounds great, doesn't it? But this article points out that there are some challenges with trying to grow too quickly. The words and idioms we will focus on are in blue.
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It seems like a dream scenario for a startup: Sales surge, and business takes off.
But then what?
Any number of things can turn a small business into a rapid success—from a TV appearance to great connections at a trade show to a viral online video—but sustaining that success forces an entrepreneur to make tough choices. For instance: Should the company immediately ramp up production and risk lowering product quality? Bring in more workers to help an overstressed staff, and risk destroying company culture? Try to live off the original innovation, or plow lots of cash into R&D to develop new ones that might not pan out?
How do I meet demand?
It’s the immediate problem a company must deal with when it hits the big time quickly. All of its systems are set up to handle a certain level of production and sales. And suddenly it is swamped with orders. 
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Here's our vocabulary for this article extract:
(to) surge - to increase quickly
(to) take off - to become popular; to turn successful
(to) ramp up - to increase
(to) live off - to make enough money from something
(to) plow lots of cash into - to invest a lot of money in
(to) pan out - to be successful
(to) hit the big time - to become very successful or popular
swamped (with) - to be overwhelmed with; to have more than one can manage

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Learn Business English with Some News on Facebook

Today we're looking at an article about Facebook from the New York Times. As you may have heard, Facebook is making more and more money by selling ads on its site. In this article, we learn of a company finding success selling fish oil through Facebook. The words and idioms we'll focus on are highlighted in blue:
The idea was to come up with a big, sweeping campaign to market MegaRed, a premium alternative to fish oil pills, to users of the social network. Each ad had to be so compelling that it would get people to stop scrolling through their news feeds ...
But from where Mr. Rodrigues sat, as the guy who would write the checks for the proposed campaign, the Facebook people seemed to be missing an essential point
The advantage of advertising on the world’s largest social network was that it could do something television ads could not: Using sophisticated analytics, it could help him find people who were already buying fish oil or other products that suggested they were concerned about the health of their hearts, and perhaps persuade them to switch to his brand.
At the meeting, the company’s ad strategists were saying they wanted him to spend money to show ads to every American woman 45 and older on Facebook. Finally, with some exasperation, Mr. Rodrigues — the marketing director for vitamins, minerals and supplements at Reckitt Benckiser, the company that owns MegaRed — blurted out what he’d been thinking. For that kind of broad blitz, he said, “I can go to television at a quarter the price.”

Now let's look at the highlighted words and phrases:

compelling - attracting interest; very interesting and appealing

missing [the] point  - not understanding the problem; focusing on the wrong thing

exasperation - annoyance; intense irritation

to blurt out - to say suddenly or without thinking; to say something sensitive that nobody is expecting you to say

blitz - an advertising campaign (often a large one). Note: this is from the military, meaning a campaign in which bombs are dropped from airplanes

I hope you enjoyed this short Business English lesson! If you're looking for more Business English, please check out the new app Business English Negotiations for iPhone and iPad: http://bit.ly/UNaSCQ

Thursday, May 23, 2013




Business English Especially For Those With a Sweet Tooth!

In our last Business English lesson, we featured an article on cupcakes. Today we're continuing in our sweet series with a video on the growing demand for chocolate in China. Hershey's chocolate  a leading chocolate brand in the USA  is now entering the market in China. This video has lots of terrific English idioms. Read the idioms with their definitions below. Then listen for them in the video. Repeat that process again (this time while snacking on a piece of chocolate!). Then think about how you could use these expressions in your daily life (as in: "It's an uphill battle trying to get my kids to keep their rooms clean." or "I hope our customers will snap up our new product.")

(to) play catch-up – to make a big effort to overcome a late start; when you are behind and you have to take actions to get to the level of your competition

uphill battle – a difficult fight (when you are "facing an uphill battle," you face difficult circumstances)

(to) gain market share – to increase one's share (or piece) of a market (definited in percentage terms). This can refer to either dollar market share or unit market share

(to) pay a premium – to pay a higher price for something (because it's better quality or has a better brand, for instance)

(to) snap up – to buy quickly, or in large quantities (this term implies that the product is very desirable, so that many people are buying it)

mass market – produced in large numbers and sold through retail outlets, such as supermarkets 

(to) move upmarket – to start appealing to high-income consumers

bullish on – optimistic about a market (often used when describing investors, as they're "bullish on" a certain stock)

Want to learn useful English expressions and idioms every day? Got two minutes a day to study English while  you're taking a break for a piece of chocolate? "LIKE" the new Facebook, Speak English with Amy Gillett.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Business English and The Great Cupcake Crash of 2013

Today's business English lesson may make you hungry! In the United States over the past 10 years,
The great cupcake craze might be over ... but I'd still like
to take a big bite out of this one!
cupcakes have had a huge rise in popularity. They went from being a favorite at kid's birthday parties to being a popular treat for adults too. They got fancier and fancier and of course, more expensive. Cupcake shops sprang up all over the USA. Many cupcakes sold for a pretty penny (a lot of money) -- some for $4.50 each. Like any great craze, this one is now crashing. Maybe Americans just ate too many cupcakes. Maybe the cookie is back in vogue. Whatever the reason, cupcake shops are now struggling. Let's read a piece of an article from the Wall Street Journal entitled "Forget Gold, the Gourmet-Cupcake Market is Crashing. The words and expressions we'll explore are highlighted:

The icing is coming off America's cupcake craze. The dessert became a cultural and economic phenomenon over the last decade, with gourmet cupcake shops proliferating across the country, selling increasingly elaborate and expensive concoctions.
The craze hit a high mark in June 2011, when Crumbs Bake Shop Inc. a New York-based chain, debuted on the Nasdaq Stock Market  under the ticker symbol CRMB. Its creations—4" tall, with fillings such as vanilla custard, caps of butter cream cheese, and decorative flourishes like a whole cookie—can cost $4.50 each.
After trading at more than $13 a share in mid-2011, Crumbs has sunk to $1.70. It dropped 34% last Friday, in the wake of Crumbs saying that sales for the full year would be down by 22% from earlier projections, and the stock slipped further this week.
Crumbs in part blamed store closures from Hurricane Sandy, but others say the chain is suffering from a larger problem: gourmet-cupcake burnout.
"The novelty has worn off," says Kevin Burke, managing partner of Trinity Capital LLC, a Los Angeles investment banking firm that often works in the restaurant industry.

Now let's look at the words and expressions in bold: 

(to) proliferate – to grow or expand quickly; to spread
 
concoction – food or drink made by combining different ingredients (often many different ingredients in an unusual way)

in the wake of – following; as a result ofburnout – having had so much of something that one no longer wants it (note: also, often describes what happens when people work too hard and get too stressed out -- they suffer from burnout)

The novelty has worn off – something that was once new and popular, but no longer is; something that people have lost interest in (note: novelty means something new)

If you're looking to improve your English, check out our iPad & iPhone apps for English study. We've got two new ones you're sure to enjoy: Speak English Around Town and Say it Better in English. They're a fun and easy way to take your English study on-the-go! For daily English lessons - including conversational English and business English - "LIKE" the new Facebook page, Speak English with Amy Gillett.


Monday, May 13, 2013

A Business English Lesson Inspired by the CEO of IBM

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of IBM had to tell her employees that they needed to change. So what did she do? She recorded a video message and posted it on the company blog. Her message to her 434,000 employees: you need to move faster! Of course, the video was passed on to the news media (also called "the press"). Did CEO Virginia Rometty deliver the news to her employees the right way -- or was she yelling at them as if they were children? The jury is still out (that means, people are still discussing that question!). Businessweek — a weekly business news magazine — just published an article about this. Let's look at some pieces of this article and then discuss the expressions and words in bold:

After the disappointing earnings report on April 18, Rometty released a video to all 434,000 employees in which she admitted that IBM hadn’t “transformed rapidly enough.” She called out the sales staff for missing out on several big deals. “We were too slow,” she said. “The result? It didn’t get done.” The press got wind of her message, and Rometty’s now accused of the corporate equivalent of yelling at her children in public. The Wall Street Journal, which broke the story, called the outburst a “rare companywide reprimand.” IBM declined to comment on the video ...

Employees aren’t going to watch one video or read one memo and completely change the way they work—the company has to change, too. In the video, Rometty laid out a plan for IBM to respond to customers within 24 hours: “Engage management, engage leadership, and let’s deal with it.” She’s already “reassigned” the head of IBM’s computer hardware department, the source of a large portion of the sales drop. “Ginni’s a very direct, no-BS type of CEO, and she had one message that she delivered to everyone,” [Professor Noel] Tichy says. “It would be much worse if it went through the internal channels. No one wants to hear that the CEO thinks they dropped the ball through word of mouth.”

Now let's look at the expressions and word in bold:

(to) get wind of - to find out about something, often a secret

outburst - a sudden expression of feeling (often full of emotion)

(to) lay out a plan - to present a plan

no-BS - short for no bullshit (BS means bullshit; therefore, no-BS is just the opposite!)

(to) drop the ball - to make a mistake; to fail to perform one's responsibilities

word of mouth - gossip; news spread by people talking to each other (note: often used as a marketing term to describe an advertising or marketing message that is spread from one person to another -- which is a positive thing for the company because it means that people are talking about the company's product or service).