Trendspotting

March 06, 2008
Written by Michelle Brisebois
What's in store for 2006?

Tapping into consumer trends is a little bit of art and a little bit of science. Trend- spotting is the marketing equivalent to predicting an earthquake – is it going to happen?  When and where is it going to happen?  If we don’t read the writing on the wall quickly enough, it’s likely we’ll miss those lucrative first waves of sales potential.  We risk becoming another “me too marketer.”  If we put our ears to the ground, here are a few of the rumblings for 2006 being heard by trend watchers. 
 18a
As Yoga continues to gain in popularity, why not try incorporating a tranquil vibe with monochromatic colours into your displays.

Self Soothing
Our world is scaring us.  Turn on the news and chances are that health-related stories top the newscast every day.  Contaminated water, avian flu, genetically modified foods. This trend is hot due to an aging population and 24/7 news stations that repeat dreaded “scare stories” over and over.  Tap into this trend by promoting plants as a means of reaffirming life and all of its beautiful gifts.  Research indicates that looking at beautiful flowers combats depression – suggest a little “floral therapy” for your customers.

Customerization
One size fits all doesn’t cut it any more.  Apple computers made history with their Ipod MP3 players because we could keep a music library of our favourite tunes and books on tape.  No more listening to tracks that aren't our cup of tea – it's all about choice.  Involve your customers in the development of new products. Tell them you're interested in catering towards their desires and ask them for their feedback.

Retro is Cool
Knitting and crocheting are hot.  So is playing poker and drinking cocktails made famous in the forties.  Twenty-somethings want to wear business suits to work (because their parents wore kakis) and they are mad for collecting LP records and playing them on turn tables.   The Echo Boom (children of Baby Boomers) started in 1980 and ran right through to 1995.  These kids are now old enough to have money to spend and they're defining their own generation.  This generation seems to have more in common with their Depression Era grandparents than their boomer parents.  They’re driving a retro vibe that savvy marketers are tapping in to.  This love of decades past is impacting colour and design direction from clothing to home decorating and gardening too.  Vibrant fifties colours are big.  Think Carmen Miranda tropical shades of hot yellow, claret and fuchsia.  Aqua and brown are still strong together as are shades of rose and green. 

Now and Zen
Yoga studios are proliferating.  The Dali Lama has several books on the New York Times bestseller list and people are more stressed out than ever before.  Monochromatic colour pallets of soft whites, creams, greens and yellows complement the minimalist movement.  Make little tags for your products made out like fortune cookie inserts.  Study a little Feng Shui (the ancient art of energy placement as it relates to good fortune) and create displays to stimulate prosperity, creativity, strong relationships – the possibilities are endless.

A Touch of Europe
We’re starting to embrace the European ability to incorporate luxury into our everyday lives.  The runaway best seller “French Women don’t get Fat” suggested that we in North America have a tendency to deprive ourselves of treats.  This causes us to go overboard when we do treat ourselves because we’ve gone without.  Trend watchers are noticing that consumers are not purchasing flowers to impress others anymore, but rather to reward themselves.  It’s not about special occasions – it’s about incorporating beauty into everyday life.  Try some advertising that speaks about the virtues of rewarding ourselves.  Remind customers that flowers and plants aren’t just for special occasions anymore – everyday is special.

Predicting trends is about noticing what’s happening around us and understanding why certain themes are prevalent.  Make note of what magazines populate the newsstands and what TV shows are trendy.  There’s usually a mass cultural point of view that's causing certain things to be popular.  Being aware of what’s in the media is one way to get inside of the consumer head space.  Wayne Gretzky was able to score so many goals by skating to where the puck was going to be rather than chasing it.  Monitoring consumer attitude is not an exact science but if you get in on the front of a trend, the pay off is very sweet indeed!

Michelle Brisebois is a marketing professional with experience in the food, pharmaceutical and financial services industries.  She specializes in brand strategies.

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