Are Trends Really Valuable? – An Analysis of Trend Forecasting

Oct 10, 2012

Mardi Gras Carpet

There’s a new emphasis on artisanal crafts and handmade items – Madis Gras Carpet (Image Source: moonbasket.com)

We often ask ourselves: “How important are trends?” and “How do we really know what’s going to remain popular?” These questions get right down to the core of the trend forecasting industry; because if you know what’s happening in a fast-paced marketplace – or, better yet, if you have a calculated understanding of what is likely to happen – then this information is the proverbial gold in the till at the end of the rainbow.

Yarn-Bombing

“Yarn-Bombing” is another artisanal craft trend to be sweeping the globe (Image Source: pinterest.com/dapfel/)

Decor Bus

Image Source: robynadelphia.wordpress.com

So, how do trend forecasters get their insights? And, more crucially, how do they get immediate insights? Typically, marketers conduct extensive research involving fieldwork and data analysis that tracks a detailed story of how people live their lives (interestingly, there are also new trends in market research, which nowadays involve mobile, interactive interfaces and infographics).

Touch Screen Technology

A major shift: touch-screen technology and social media engagement (Image Source: apple.com)

So, is trend forecasting just market research repackaged in prettier, more palatable pictures that you don’t need a degree in statistics to understand? Trend forecasters actually do operate outside of conventional marketing: they tend to draw live connections that run through politics, economics, arts, fashion, film, popular culture and technology – in fact, all spheres of life. What’s so on-the-money about that, is that those very market research trends I mentioned above are now seeing that “Tracking consumer lifestyles rather than pure consumption is providing deeper insight into predicting future trends,” says Lara Faris, Client Engagement Manager at the Target Group Index (TGI), South Africa.

Organic Food

Another major lifestyle shift: organic food and farm gardens (Image Source: babylonstoren.com)

Organic Food

Image Source: blog.babylonstoren.com

Babylonstoren

Babylonstoren (Image Source: inhabitat.com)

And then, dare I say it, there also seems to be an element of intuition – the informed premonition, the sensitivity to influence – that lies above any astute summations that can be made; it is this uncertain quality that really sets the truly influential trend forecasters apart from the rest. Yes, they read the signs of the times, but sometimes this skill seems so uncanny that I yearn to assign some form of godly divinity to it. It’s so much sexier and mysterious that way, isn’t it?

Pantone Tangerine Tango

Pantone’s 2012 Colour of the Year (Tangerine Tango) sparked an avalanche of orange (Image Source: isdstyle.com)

Oh, and please let me know what you think? I really want to open up the conversation here…

And if you would like to hear more about the latest trends from industry leaders, then diarise our upcoming Trend Talk on 11 October in Cape Town.