Alphabet  Soup…

Only twenty six letters and they create nearly 200,000 words in the English language alone. From that number many millions of books have been written, all using the same words, the same letters , but in different combinations.

This discussion came about this weekend when seeing another tranche of recipes in the weekend papers . Julia said there are only so many ways you can dress up an omelette. This is , of course true, until tomorrow when another Chef comes with another idea. It might be rubbish but then so are many of those millions of books. That’s not really the point.

Anthony Armstrong Jones (Lord Snowdon) of royalty and picture taking fame once said he would take five hundred photographs to get one good one. So we can assume that several thousand rubbish books need to be written before you find one worth reading. That’s not really the point either.

It is mankind’s ability to be creative that sets us apart. Retail analysts have for years questioned the ability for consumer markets to continue to grow as there is nothing else for the developed market consumer to buy. Well there is currently data to support that argument. However, in 2007 Apple launched the IPhone. It was well received but it was also described as something we don’t need. We still don’t need it but up to July 2016 one billion had been sold .

That’s what makes retailing of any product or service exciting, nobody has any real idea of what the next big thing will be. In spite of any prevailing economic conditions, the IPhone was launched just prior to the financial crash of 2008, something will catch the consumers imagination . More importantly there are huge organisations investing millions of dosh to find that illusive but desirable concept that we, in turn, will part with our hard cash even if we don’t need it. Furthermore, we will queue up in the early hours of the morning to make sure we have before anyone else. What is really curious with technology, is that we are likely to pay more and get an inferior product if we queue to become early adopters. Even with Ryannair, if you buy early you pay less and get an opportunity for a ‘marginally’ better seat.

That is one of society’s dichotomies. It can be extraordinary at creating for the future , but is very poor at learning from the past. ‘Social media’ did not exist twenty years ago. It was not even a vague idea twenty five years ago. However, knowing if you stick your head above the parapet , there is a very good chance you will get an arrow in the eye, has been around for over two thousand years. If you get my drift .

This is a long way from the alphabet. I suppose what I am really driving at is no matter what is around the corner , economically or socially, there will always be opportunities as there is such a huge combination of possibilities. On a micro level, that is our own sphere of influence, it needs a level of creativity (and a bit of luck) to discover your own personal metaphorical ‘IPhone ‘ . Just remember, whatever it is, derives from only twenty six letters and only ten digits (0-9).

We can no longer rely on just knowing what sold well yesterday.

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