Ad Lib – July 2019

To Change or Not To Change? That’s the Real Question.

I realize I am a little late to the party, but just recently, I’ve started listening to a few great podcasts. That’s a big change for me. I’d always believed my spare time should only be used to spend time with family, working on projects, or other important tasks. It seemed so decadent, and a little voyeuristic, to listen to people chatting about various topics, like I was eavesdropping on someone’s conversation. But, I began to think I was missing out. When I could resist no longer, I did my research, and found a few that were intriguing. Changing my view on what I was supposed to do, and what I had always done, has been extremely rewarding.

Change is easy, right? It can happen in an instant. What’s harder is overcoming the resistance to change, which grows out of the fact that we’re creatures of comfort and habit. We’d always rather keep doing things the old way, especially when they’ve worked pretty well for us in the past. The problem, and the risk, is that the old ways aren’t going to work for us in the future. If we don’t change, someone else will quickly come along to do things better, faster, cheaper or more easily and we’ll be left behind. So, in today’s super-competitive world, you can change, or you will most assuredly and eventually die.

But what if your customers are content, and don’t want to change? We’ve all seen examples when a company tried to simply impose a new change on customers and those customers promptly retaliated. Anybody remember New Coke? And what do you do if you know that the necessary changes could potentially drive existing customers away? Nobody wants to sign up for any type of loss, even if you know that you’ll come out ahead of the game in the long run. I learned the story behind McDonald’s McCafĂ© in a recent podcast, and it made me think of how our Atlanta Jewelry Show is evolving. I know, we are not the global giant that is Mickey Dees, but hear me out.

Here’s the story. In the last few years, alternative coffee brands and other offerings have exploded, and these new options were making a serious dent in the numbers at McDonald’s. Coffee tastes in general were changing, and coffee has gotten both stronger and sweeter. In particular, younger coffee drinkers were looking for more flavorful brews and variety, but seniors liked things the way they always were and didn’t want expressos, syrups, or much of anything else except good old regular java. McDonald’s undertook a careful plan to, slowly and consistently, increase the strength of its basic coffee without saying a word to anyone. Today, if you look at the menus, everything, including regular old coffee, is part of the McCafĂ© family. Something for everyone, right?

What does this have to do with AJS? In listening to you, we recognize that change is inevitable to survive. But how much is too much? That’s the question we ask ourselves every day. By introducing New Routes like specialty pavilions, enhanced education and Kids Jewelry Camp, we are pushing the envelope to bring you the needed resources to strengthen our community. While maintaining our same roots, we honor the vision of our founding members almost 70 years ago, “to foster a collaborative community, promoting trade and long-term success, with integrity, kindness and unmatched hospitality.” With this vision in mind, we continually strive to achieve the perfect balance between Same Roots and New Routes. While our vision will never change, the routes we take to get there may look a little different.

See you soon,