I read a piece in a newspaper and it said trend forecasting is out. Noone wants to hear about trends 2021. Of course I must disagree.
So. Are trend reports “out” or unneccessary? No, not if they are used as tools to understand where we as a collective are going and what we will dream of next year. In that sense it is more important than ever.
Trends can absolutely be very superficial and shallow. No doubt. But before we start looking into the necessity of trends or trend forecasting we need to define what we mean when we say “trend”. If you look at what wikipedia say, they have difficulties defining what “trend” is. Look here. If you click on the link for “fad” you will come to a definition of what we normally define as trends.
When I do my seminars I always talk quite a bit about trends. There seem to be a misconception. To keep it short. Trends are something we dream of doing or getting. That tingling sensation is important. It should be exciting. A desire. Doing something boring is never “trendy”. Like doing laundry… That can have a lot of positive associations but never trendy. Perhaps a new detergant or a machine could be trendy – but the everyday routine can not.
So trends are dreams. And my job is trying to guess and analyze what we will dream of, for a coming period. You can of course talk more about things here. How is it spreading? How fast? In certain groups? National? International?
There is another layer of information one could add to the definition of trend, and that is “change”. This is the newness I sometimes talk about. Old or retro can of course be trendy, but it is new in the sense that we don’t see that look or behaviour right now. So in that sense that 50s dress or this vintage tableware look could be new to our existing style.
Someone described “trend” as being “change”, and I do agree. Status quo is the opposite of this.
So in short – trends are the things we wish for and they should be different from that we have now. And there should be a tingling sensation in your belly…
So my job is to understand or analyze what we will dream of. And how do I do that? It is easy to explain. I read reports (research, statistics = where is change), make interviews (what do you dream of? if you have 50 euro spare – what would you get?) and look at historical context (have we seen the same behaviour before and what happend then?).
It all sounds very academic with this kind of trend research, and it is. This pandemic times I read a report about how 52% of young Americans are forced to move home because of the pandemic and that will of course affect us all in many, many ways. We can only guess how this will change architecture, relationships, weekend behaviour… What do you dream of when you are forced in lockdown with your parents?
But I have a fourth leg to stand on. Reports, interviews and historical context is nice but I need to see and experience what is out there too. I can not only sit by a desk and read or email. What do we eat? How? Where? What are the colours? What new objects are being launched? Can you see that a room or an area is more important than others?
That’s where my travels come into work.
Travel gives me a tool to see options, differences and similarities. Does everyone want a party weekend? Or are there options?
Going to fairs gives me a tool too look at things quantified. Will we see or dream of more yellow? More rustic? More minimal? What are people talking about? What brands are changing?
I have said it before. I basically see everything that is launched. Everything. During a normal year I see 12 000 launches during two months. I counted… I can do this since fairs are very efficient for me to get an overview.
My job is absolutely a mix of desk work and seeing things live. And I categorise my findings in chapters or trends. Normally a report consists of four or five chapters and trends. These are my resoning. My thinking. Can I be wrong? Of course. Everyone can draw a conclusion and then realise it is wrong. But my trend reports are more tools so that you can go out and make your own conclusion. That’s the goal.
So. Are trend reports “out” or unnecessary? I think it is a tool to understand where we as a collective are going. What will we dream of next year? And how will it manifest itself?
I am taking stage on February 2nd to talk about our future dreams at Stora Trenddagen. It is all digital. 90 minutes about dreams, hope and opportunities.
One thing is clear – we are dreaming about leaving our computers and meeting eachother again. And I actually think we will talk more about aesthetics than previous periods. Again – if trends are dreams – we have been forcefed with statistics about the pandemic and its’ consequenses – that should mean we dream of something nice and pretty again.