Sir: The Global Retail, Food & Drink Summit took place last week in London, part of the government’s programme to link business with the Olympics.
What was apparent was the size and strength of the major players but also their potential for disintermediation by digital developments. Into this arena we have Kevin Hawkins banging the old drum of free-market economics (‘People don’t do as they say!’, 11 August). He suggests business owners will somehow obtain a similar margin to others in an industry. Try telling that to dairy farmers.
If the market is as efficient as free marketeers say, why do we need a Competition Law? Because markets are prone to failure. The middle ground is being destroyed as producers are offered the choice of either a commodified market or premiumisation. As the music industry has convulsed, and the book market commodified, it is not if but when the food retail market faces its own internal conflict.
In 2005, Tomi Ahonen & Alan Moore’s book, Communities Dominate Brands, foresaw how the connectedness of consumers would usurp traditional business models. Don’t be beguiled by old management school thinking about ‘free markets’. It isn’t and it won’t be. Kickstarter, Yammer, Twitter, Facebook and mobile technology will see to that.
Tim Harrap, Bridport, Dorset