CEO - David Alterman takes a moment to reflect on serendipity



  1. the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

Over the years I have been working on a bit of a life philosophy. And that is…. create as many opportunities as possible for good things to happen and it probably will.

And that is why serendipity is so important for me – those golden moments that light up your day in the most unexpected ways – the shop assistant who goes out of their way to help, a shared laugh with a stranger on the train. I was in our local Pret some months ago and the lady serving me said bizarrely – ‘you’ve got a lovely voice’. It certainly wasn’t a pick-up line, and she must have been a bit hard of hearing – but it was such a random friendly comment it left me with a smile on my face all day.

I was thinking about this in a client debrief recently. We had been talking about the challenge of managing a retail brand’s transition from ‘bricks’ to ‘clicks’.

Digital shopping is great because it can offer a uniform consistency of service – no unforeseen queues, no impolite staff, 24/7 availability, a limitless supply of product. What is not to like?

Well. Where there is no risk there are no surprises. Where there is a guaranteed consistency of service there are so few opportunities for the ‘peak-end rule’* to kick in and put a smile on your face.

In brand owners’ quest for consistency and quality maybe we need to keep just a little jeopardy to create the opportunity for special brand experiences.


*The peak–end rule is an elaboration on the snapshot model of remembered utility proposed by Barbara Fredrickson and Daniel Kahneman. This model dictates that an event is not judged by the entirety of an experience, but by prototypical moments (or snapshots) as a result of the representativeness heuristic.[1] The remembered value of snapshots dominates the actual value of an experience. Fredrickson and Kahneman theorized that these snapshots are actually the average of the most affectively intense moment of an experience and the feeling experienced at the end.[2]