Maximizing Trend Watching Effectiveness, Part 1

October 1, 2010

Marketers need to know why they are tracking trends, recognize fads, and not apply all trends to all people, according to consumer insights firm trendwatching.com.

trendwatching.com has compiled a list of 15 tips for marketing executives seeking to effectively spot and apply trends. Following is a summary of the first eight tips.

1. Know Why You’re Tracking Trends: trendwatching.com defines a consumer trend as a “novel manifestation of something that has unlocked or serviced an existing (and hardly ever changing) consumer need, desire, want or value.” Tracking consumer trends, then, is a crucial way to gain relevant inspiration, helping marketers conceive profitable new goods, services and experiences.
2. Don’t Get Trends Mixed Up: In general, switched-on companies and individuals track at least three trend levels: Macro, Consumer, and Industry. Macro trends relate to social, technological, economic, environmental and political developments. Consumer trends are about more than fashion, but how consumers behave, and industry trends are at the mercy of macro and consumer trends.
3. Know a Fad When You See (or Smell) It: Phenomena such as a certain food item suddenly becoming popular don’t dramatically change the the consumer arena. At most, they’re yet another manifestation that consumers want to be unique or crave convenience and surprise. The latter are trends, the products are fads.
4. Don’t Apply All Trends to All People: In life and in trends: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Not everything applies to everyone, and that virtually every trend has its anti-trend. In addition, the new does not always kill the old. For example, e-commerce has not ended in-store retailing, although it has altered how retailers present the store experience.
5. Be (very) Curious: Observing the world around you, with an open mind, is something something that we’re all born with. Basically, if you want to spot and understand trends, you can. Ask yourself “why” whenever you notice something new, instead of immediately looking for shortcomings, and remember professional interests should be broader than personal interests.
6. Have a Point of View: The more trends you spot and track, and the more skilled you are at putting these trends into context, the more guidance you’ll have. When you have a broad point of view, even tiny observations start to make sense.
7. Benefit from an Unprecedented Abundance of Resources: Modern resources include established media such as TV, radio and movies; new media such as internet, blogs and social media; trade shows and seminars; and standbys such as listening to customers and observing competitors. There have never been more potential sources of information at a marketer’s ready disposal.
8. Name Your Trends: It’s crucial to describe trends as imaginatively as possible. Strange names invoke interest, make people sit up and listen, make them want to know more. In addition, groups and teams will rally behind a named concept more easily than behind something generic, and coining a new name lets you lead the discussion and earn top ranking on online search engines.

Mature Consumers Seek Edgy Brands
Marketers attempting to effectively track trends should also be aware of a growing desire among global consumers for daring, outspoken brands. trendwatching.com calls this phenomenon “Maturialism.” Able to handle much more honest conversations, unusual flavors and risqu? experiences, these consumers increasingly appreciate brands that are pushing the boundaries a bit.

trendwatching.com deems maturialism as part of a larger social trend it calls “Brand Fabric,” which is defined as brands truly needing to focus on how to move with the culture. In addition to pushing boundaries, Brand Fabric also entails serving customers in an innovative manner, recognizing the increasing sophistication and intelligence of the modern consumer, transparency and authenticity.

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