Trend is a common word to fashion blogs, magazines and web sites. Trends of the season, colors in trends, cosmetics trends are all well-known collocations to us. For most of us the word «trend» is strongly associated with fashion.
During the 20th century the word was actively used by economists and statisticians. Later trend moved to the fashion industry and came to our everyday life.
What is trend?
Trend is a pattern of gradual change in a condition, output, or process, or an average or general tendency of a series of data points to move in a certain direction over time. For someone trend is something new, unusual, unpredictable. Trends arise and died, move to mass culture, cross and merge, giving birth to new trends.
There are micro, macro, mega and even giga trends.
Micro trends are small changes that occur constantly around us. It is tiny shifts in everything starting from clothes, food, our working space and up to entertainments and our relationships. All these changes are in trend, it is easy to observe them. If we suppose that future is an extrapolation of present, than study of micro trends signals us about forthcoming changes in society.
Macro trends are a combination of micro trends or massive scope of changes that affect the society in a whole. Micro trend can arise and disappear, while macro trend will exist for a long time. Facebook is an example of macro trend.
Mega trends are a mass of macro trends which can influence on the whole mankind and can exist decades. It is a complex process which combines politics, economics and technology. Mega trends are difficult to predict.
Giga trends are still an open question. There is a theory that giga trends are mix of mega trends which spreads to half of century. Another point of view is that giga trends are so huge and monumental that affect civilization.
It is very important to distinct between a trend and a fad. Fad disappeared as quickly as arose, while trend would exist some time and influenced the society. An understanding of these differences creates not only awareness of the phenomena occurring around us, but allows to transform the social mood and trends into new products.
Why is it important to study trends?
Strategy is one of the main point in business planning. As product and service development needs time we have to understand where consumer preferences will shift in near future so that we can present an actual good. Knowing trends we signal our customers that we understand their needs and desires. That helps us to improve our marketing communication, product development and better position our business. In result we develop strong business strategy and monetize trends.
Based on insights and trends we can improve our future scenario planning. It is possible to create a scenario in every industry starting from fashion up to agriculture.
Most international corporations have their own trend research departments. Also on the market you can find bureaus and agencies which main area of competences is lying in trend forecasting. More about trend agencies and trend bureau you can read here and here.
Trendspotting is a process of new trends identification. Trendspotters are people who identifying trends.
The difference between trendspotting and marketing is that marketers examine what’s going on right now, while trendspotters study what will happen in near future. For example, what preferences consumer will have within next two years. Trendspotting combines instruments of different fields like strategic management, sociology, anthropology, cultural study, semiotic, business planning. It operates with ethnographic research, smart data analysis, foresights and insights analysis.
It is also worth to mention a difference between a coolhunting and a trendspotting. Coolhunting is a search of cool things, which will be extremely popular in near future. It something like fad. Trendspotting is wider than coolhunting. While coolhunter search for avant-garde things, trendspotter should consider weak signals from everyday life. For example, how we clean our house, where and how we walk with our dog, what we are doing during our walk, how we take care about our children, etc.
Single trend has no valuable information, only its combination with other trends, its interaction could give us additional knowledge about future shift.
Small theoretical part above will help you to understand how trends arise and to create your own future scenario.