Max Dumais

The other day I saw a photo of an iPod accessory vending machine that got me thinking: what’s weird today maybe wired tomorrow…

Today’s weird, tomorrow’s wired

The other day entrepreneur Suzi Dafnis sent SmartCompany a photo of a vending machine that dispenses not drinks or crisps, but iPod accessories.

That got me thinking about how many things I have noticed and then dismissed in its early stage as a fad, only to have it emerge later as a big-ticket item with the large marketing wave that follows in its wake.

The accessory business to iPods is almost as large as the item itself, but very few people would have looked at iPods and then begun to imagine all the bits and pieces that could sell off the back of them.

Picking trends is much more about understanding the psychology. It takes time, energy, imagination and a preparedness to take off the blinkers.

If you do succeed in identifying emerging trends in their early stages, you are then in a position to develop goods and services that can hang off those trends.

Of course you can always give these trends a good push. I love watching marketing people who go out of their way to sow the seeds of such new trends.

For instance, when they want to reach a “young” market they set out to identify people who are natural leaders and trend-setters in their peer group and outfit them with the type of gear they intend to introduce.

Wholescale sponsorship of events, such as festivals and dances, aim to bring together a market segment they would want to reach. Movies can set the scene for digital gaming.

Focus groups, the use of lead agents and scanning interest group magazines and events are all ways to pick up on emerging trends – but sometimes a very accessible way is to ask your kids. Trends emerge as people seek to be like others and adolescence is a stage of life when this need is greatest.

Tip of the week. Identifying what you consider “weird” today may just be what everyone considers “wired” tomorrow; innovative thinking involves developing the capacity to recognise the tip of an iceberg.

It is a powerful way to find a way to market that depends more on imagination than money and more on instinct than experience.



Paola Branas-Born writes: Great article, make me think about some cool technology i am involved in, digital technology that is changing the way we communicate online forever…



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