Saturday, January 3, 2009

Top Five Trendspotting Tips

Trend spotting is fun. It makes you feel like an insider and that you feel the pulse of industry. The way we see it- More than anything, trend watching leads to profitable innovation and inspiration. We know that there has been an avalanche of innovation, trends and insight in the past 5 years. Everyone is talking trends. Yet when we ask professionals if and how they spot trends and apply them to their business they tell us they are still having a hard time getting their arms around this trend thing.
So here are some tips to help you:
TIP #1 Know why you’re tracking trends
At Vision we like the definition of trend and using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to put them into context.

Trend is a manifestation of something that has unlocked or newly serviced an existing (and hardly ever changing) consumer need, desire or want.

Give it a try- apply the definition to your spottings and all those unconnected stories will all of a sudden start to make sense. But know this: trends are not predicting next year’s colors- Fashion and innovative businesses do not define a trend. Trend spotting is about observing and understanding what’s happening in the consumer arena both in the mainstream and on the fringes. Not all customers will embrace the trend- That’s why we’re so down with niches- You can’t be all things to all people.

One thing about trends - there is a common misconception that a trend applys to ALL of your cistomers. No. Remember, in life and in
trends: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Please remember that not everything applies to
everyone, and that virtually every trend has its anti-trend.

Tip #2 Acquire a point of view
It is essential to be open- minded. Act like a specialist, but aim to be a trend generalist. Look to understand the big picture and how you and your business fit in. Most importantly, look across industries. Your competition could be anyone; so you need to keep an eye on them. Your customer’s expectations often are set outside our industry. For example, H&M making trendsetting fashion affordable certainly affects the window covering industry. Not to mention how the hotel industry continues to redefine itself. Will our industry ever get it?

Tip #3 Take advantage of the incredible amount of resources out there to help.
Here a short list to jumpstart your trendspotting.
To open the trend faucet subscribe to blog search engines like Google Reader, Bloglines and sign up for Google Alerts and Technorati Mini.
Check out sites like, Design* Sponge, Business Week Design and Innovation, tr,, and Don’t forget to click our subscribe button for all our up-to- the- minute info.
Join a social media community. Did you know that WFCP has a Facebook group? Members are already sharing expertise, photos, support and exclusive opportunities.

Tip #4 Build a trend framework
Start your laundry list of trends by categorizing them on three levels: Macro- social, technological, environmental, economic and political; Consumer and Industry. Then put them into context. That brings us back to Maslow and looking at what unlocks that desire or need that puts the trend into context.

TIP# 5 OK, so I’m spotting trends. Now it’s time apply them to MY business
Ask yourself if the trend you’re tracking a trend has the potential to:
Influence and shape your company’s vision?
Starbucks founder Howard Schultz’s wrote this in a company memo pointing out threats and solutions based on his trend framework. Schultz acquired a point of view (Tip#2); tracked the EXPERIENCE trend (#3); and created a framework (#4) that led to applying it to his company’s vision. (#5)
“Over the past ten years, in order to achieve the growth, development, and scale necessary to go from less than 1,000 stores to 13,000 stores and beyond, we have had to make a series of decisions that, in retrospect, have lead to the watering down of the Starbucks experience, and, what some might call the commoditization of our brand.”
Inspire you to come up with a new concept or brand?
Add a new product or service?

What about Sampling Salons for window coverings? More about this in an upcoming post.
Speak your client’s language?
If your client is already in the trend; then you better be showing her you are too through marketing, presentations, products and services.

Customers are lusting for information- why not give it to them. Look at other industries for inspiration in speaking the language. Everyone loves a story. Smart businesses are using stories and Origin as a marketing tool. Dole and Timberland have created story labels much like nutritional labels that tell who, what, when and where of the product. A website tells more about the fabrication process and origin of the products. Who will be the first to do this in our industry? Imagine story labels on your blinds and soft fashions that tell what the master artisan created it, where and how….
Now that’s what trends are all about!

One last tip- SHARE. Contribute to the collective wisdom of your peers . You will be tapping into the global brain so don't forget to give back."If you give away everything you have, you are left with nothing. This forces you to look, to be aware, to replenish."
(Paul Arden)
The perfect way to start is right here.
As you spot new innovation, products or trends, please post them here at the TrendSpot. Let's build a community of trendspotters!

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