You don’t need a corporate soothsayer – here are four easy steps to becoming your own trend forecaster.
And the forecast is….
Many marketers were recently deep into planning for 2008 – what would it hold in store and how could they leverage the opportunities that may emerge?
As they pondered these and other big issues, I imagined some would have been tempted to put in a call to one of the nation’s top trend forecasters.
These modern day corporate soothsayers may have been able to provide the secrets to unlock the future, they may have thought, and in so doing, help set their brand on the right path.
But who are these mysterious characters that make a living unearthing upcoming consumer trends and just how do they go about it? More to the point, how can marketers actually become better at predicting these future trends for themselves?
Here is my four step plan to help become your own mini trend forecaster:
Step one – keep your eyes open
The first step towards becoming a trend forecaster is to develop a healthy interest in the world around you. Don’t limit yourself to your own category, but look for innovation anywhere and everywhere. Collect examples of interesting products, marketing approaches, design concepts, retail spaces, art, architecture, music and fashion. Develop a sense of curiosity.
Step two – everything is related
As your collection of innovative material grows, start to look for underlying themes. What are the drivers behind these examples? What connections can you draw between vastly different categories? Nowadays as categories increasingly blur into each other, consumer trends can come from anywhere, go anywhere and be used anywhere.
Step three – it’s all in the packaging
Having identified some key themes and drivers that appear prevalent across multiple categories, it is time to package them up and bring them to life – this is a key lesson for upcoming trend forecasters. They must excite the imagination.
Most of us have heard all about “cocooning”, but would it be the same if it had been presented as “people are staying at home more these days”? Likewise, “old codgers driving around in a campervan” has less of a ring to it than “grey nomads”.
Make sure you apply your packaging expertise to the new trend you have unearthed.
Step four – spread the risk
Finally, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. For every mega-trend we hear about, there are no doubt a number that never really got going and were quietly forgotten. People rarely seem to re-visit past trend forecasts to see how accurate they were. Keep looking, keep questioning and keep evolving your own vision of the future.
So there you have it – four easy steps to becoming a trend forecaster. I can’t promise that you will become the next Faith Popcorn, but I can promise (or should that be predict?) that you will find the journey a fascinating and rewarding one.
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