Trend Watching In General Communications Essay

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Trend watching is a very complicated process of constant monitoring and analyzing information of various data. Lately, trend watching has become a major business within many design agencies and corporate design offices in Europe, USA and Asia. Not only desk research but also field research is important in the design process. Visiting specialized fairs, shops, various cities, experiencing different cultures, knowing the leading brands and lifestyles are a must for every trend analyst. But how can you define beauty in design? You need to have a very broad knowledge of design in order to understand and recognize exquisite products. Design trend watchers are trained to forecast trends for five years ahead, while fashion trend watchers are working with seasonal changing of collection for two years in advance. Consumers often tend to be very subjective. Can we become more objective when it comes to judging prettiness and beauty?

For most of us is a trend only a trend, when we are confronted with it. Before a trend is noticed by the general public or the media, a trend already has a whole history behind it. Before we notice trends, they were already there. Often we recognize only a trend because others draw our attention. Therefore we can say, that the future is already present in the ‘now', because what we will recognize as a trend tomorrow is already here, we just don't want to see it yet.

A trend is a development from a special direction on longer terms. Trends are often indicated by fashion designers, but can also result from a craze. Developers respond this craze and continue with it. A trend lasts longer than a season and has always an effect on the coming season.

Trend watching is an expertise that can help to look in the future, and the better you do that, how accurately you can watch the future.

The process of transmitting and acquiring a trend has a set pattern and is represented in the trend cycle:

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1.1What is a trend?

A product is not a trend. A trendy product is very popular because it has one or more trends. That is the reason why people buy a trendy product. The success of a product depends on how many trends a product has. The vehemence of the success is determined by the strength of the trends.

The more ‘trend wishes' a product have, the more successful and more powerful the product is. The more the product comes into the picture, the more it is confused with a trend. The more a product suddenly is sold, the more people see the product as a trend.

Trendy products are the' fruit' of trends.

A trend has nothing to do with a product or color. It fills a void, it brings a solution, it renewed something in your life and it feels like a discovering. All trends has answers to outstanding questions but also creates new questions.

A trend arises from a thought that gives a meaning to a question, an issue or problem. The chance that an idea becomes a trend, is determined by such factors as the degree to which the idea captured the imagination and suggests a solution.

We now know that a product is not a trend, a product is an expression of one or more trends. A trend itself is very difficult to see, so it is normal that products are used to detect and follow trends. That is what we call, trend watching.

1.2Macro, Mini, Micro trends

Macro, mini and micro trends have a relationship with each other. They can not exist without the other.

Macro trends

Macro trends are global trends who exceed the individual level and the community. The term macro trends, has nothing to do with his size, but rather with the traces of a macro trend in the society. Macro trends are very slowly and are therefore virtually invisible, their identification is very difficult and impossible in the beginning. Their slow development ensures that we are unconsciously been dragged by them to finally experience for granted. Nobody escapes their influence. It was many years later that we become aware of what was happened to us. A macro trend is slowly changing the norms and value system of our society. Macro trends has not always enough power to change the norms and value of a culture in the beginning. This whole process of change, requires an extremely precise timing. This explains why there are major differences in the trend perception between countries, regions and people.

Mini trends

Mini trends leave little shallower traces. They are better for observation then Macro trends and have a much shorter life. They are often confused with the underlying?? macro trends and are frequently mistaken with determining life changes. A Mini trend gives much less direction to our lives, than the macro trend. Mini trends takes in the environment of the individual. Mini trends are abused as sensation in the media and by less powerful trend watchers. But how important a new upcoming trend is, it remains the macro trend that really determines our lives and still without our awareness. Mini trends are easy to observe, so for that reason they can help us to 'seek' and 'recognize' the associated macro trend.

Different groups and sectors are feeling the effects of the Mini trends. Once you recognize a Mini Trend, you can use this knowledge on many fronts and use them to have benefits.

Micro trends

Micro trends can be found at the product level. (For example, fashion, fads, crazes). Micro trends are the typical trends where we worry about, but in reality they make our lives more beautiful. A character of a Micro trend is that they rapidly bored us.

When time passed and the spread factor is getting bigger, their importance is taken away.

Micro trends are the work area of traditional marketing, fashion houses, designers and trend watchers. Under the influence of micro trends, the emphasis shifts, but the values change hardly.

1.3Trendcycle

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A trend spreads from group to group. In the initial stage, the trend is in a small select group. After a long time the trend develops himself and tries to conquer the masses. This stage takes a long time and has only a minimal grow. When the trend is getting out of this selected force protection, we have reached a point of significance and then the grow goes much faster. Between the significance point and the turning point the trend develops his independent grow factor such as his inner drive factor. Now we see the true form of the trend for the first time. The turning point is reached when the trend has managed to spread his influence in different sectors . Suddenly you see the first signs of the trend everywhere.

The trend properties are translated into all the different sectors and are doing their conquering force. Now the turning point is reached, the massive exponential grow cannot be stopped. The grow explodes and the peak is reached in a very fast time. After that, there is a temporary stability which is followed by a strong fall. The trend creates a soft landing, and is not falling apart. You can compare it with a slide. The landing strikes not at a zero level, but higher. So we can say that a trend leaves traces behind in our society at the end. The sum of all ‘trend traces' of the past is called the ‘culture of a region' .

1.4 Trend perception in society

A trend may have a life as described above, but in the society people are seeing it different. Further observation shows that during the life of a trend, different groups see only a part of it. That is the reason why the trend is seen different by each group. ( for example: at another time, different experience). The route along the renewal spreads from group to group in the society, called the trend cycle.

Any trend follows that predictable path during his life. There are five main groups in the trend circle:

  • The original: Experience life from a deep core and forming the basis for a potential new trend;
  • Setters: Are very creative and they love to break habits. A trendsetter knows the question and is looking for the answer of the original;
  • The watcher: Is looking to the existing World and is wondering what is new? What wasn't there in the past and why is it now here? The trend watcher translates his knowledge and gives it to others;
  • The follower: The limits of his environment are the limits of his world. The follower decides the size and the lifetime of a trend.
  • The late majority: Does not deal with new trends and is the test case for a trend in his own culture.

1.5 The personal trend experience

We only accept something new, when it has a dominant position in our environment. Then it seems a trend is born. The long route before a trend is born is hardly noticed. How we ultimately respond to that dominance is determined by how we live as a person. That makes it very personal, but unconsciously group bounded ( original, setter, watcher, follower, late majority).

A trend experience is not the same for everyone. It happens all the time that some people have noticed a trend previously then other people. The difference between the experience of a trend can be that big, that it is perceived as a cultural difference. You see the difference between countries and also between different regions in one country.

1.6 Storage life of a trend

Trends are sexy and hot and everybody talks about them. Nobody knows the storage life of a trend. Just like food, trends have a time limit. The tenability of trends depends on three factors: What kind of trend it is (type, the phase where the trend is in, and external conditions who might speed up, or slow down the process. Take your own clothes, after a certain period you don't like that blouse anymore. In advance you do not know when that moment will be.

The following information is needed to determine the tenability of trends:

  • The trend type = Marco, Mini or Micro trend;
  • The active trend group = Watchers, setters, followers or the late majority;
  • The trend temperature of the sector = What is the average lifecycle of trends from the past within this sector?
  • The heart rate of a trend = Are we talking about a trend who is closer to the consumer or the producer?
  • Risk of known interrupt channels = What can cause a deviation in the lifecycle of a trend?

1.7 What does it mean to understand trends?

Understand trends makes life clearer, more aware and more complex. The better you understand trends the brighter the image gets and the more benefits you can get out of it. Trend watching makes life more transparent and less flabbergasted.

Many people think, that it is impossible to know, what will happen next year. But it isn't, we can recognize things and determine what is coming. Details are coming later. In the beginning we focus on the main lines. When you see the main lines, it is much easier to fill in the details.

Trends are dynamic, not statically. So it is wise to continue with monitoring a trend. New trends are in the beginning always less efficient than existing methods and applications. They seems totally uninteresting. The temptation is big to give no attention to them. Some trends die in this phase, but other trends take a different form. Before you realize they are more efficient than the old trust trends. The new trends eliminate the old trends. So it is wise to follow a trend, even if we think it isn't interesting. Trends always continue with the formation and deformation of our environment. Finally, all the remains of past trends form our culture.

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Three smart steps to deal with trends:

  1. Recognize new trends;
  2. Define the value of the new trend in relation to their own objectives;
  3. Stay alert for changes in existing trends.

1.8 What is trend watching?

Trend watching is ‘see the future in the Now'. The information is there, only you should be able to see it. With trend watching you can look in the future, but you cannot predict the future. You only can see the future who is present in the Now. Further then that we cannot look. But it is more than the most people think. It is possible to look 5 till 10 years ahead. And even for a expert it is possible to look 50 till 100 years ahead ( depended on social developments).

Being in the right place, at the right time, with the right people.

Trend watching = ‘Don't ask, just watch'.

Trend watching = The early recognition of social changes.

The four core values of trend watching are: Feeling / Spotting / Network / Statistics.

Feeling

Trend watchers which operate on their feelings collect their data mainly by traveling, reading and watching.

Spotting

Spotters have an eye for relevant information and the place where you can find that information. They get their information mainly from the street, books, magazine and internet. Everything and everyone is suitable as long as it meets their requirements. The trend watcher decides where and when he will spend his ‘spotting time'.

Network

These trend watchers are a select group of people. These are mainly specialized spotters, also called ‘Cool Hunters'. These are the people who called trend setters in the marketing terms. Cool hunters must identify changes in a preselected area.

Statistics

Statistics is a science that use models, formulas and statistical information that makes certain patterns visible. This method is only useful when a trend has reached his peak period.??(bloeiperiode)

All good trend watchers use aware and unaware all four core values. But they do it on their own way.

How would you become a trend watcher?

·Don't ask, just watch. That is the most important rule for a trend watcher;

·Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see;

·Trend watching is a day job, you do that always and everywhere;

·Just look, don't judge;

·First you form your habits, but then you habits form you;

·Look outside you own world;

·Watching is, open your eyes for details in the world around you.

1.9 Trends and difference in culture

Cultural misunderstandings are a major concern for those who want to cross the frontier with trends. Too often people believe that a trendy product in one country, is also successful in a other country. It is important to do research about a other country. You must find out of the ‘trend wishes' are the same in another culture.

The existing local culture is an important factor. The regard of the own identity is up and down over time, but never disappears. Culture is a very important factor in analyzing national and international trends. It is important for those who wants to work across the frontier, that they translate the trends to the local conditions in the right way.

Trends can be affected, accelerate or inhibited by the local culture. A culture can influence a trend experience. The trend experience between cultures proceeds often by a fase verchuiving in de tijd???? Phase shift in time. It means that countries are in a certain order to compare trends, comparable with the trend groups in the trend cycle.

Cultural values could slow down the trend but they can never stopped it.

CHAPTER 2 THE SOCIAL WEB

One of the most biggest inventing is the Social Web. The Social Web is very important in the community. We landed in an area where nobody can live without the internet. Everything can be shared with the whole world.

Most social network services are web based and provide means for users to interact over the internet, such as e-mail and instant messaging. Although online community services are sometimes considered as a social network service in a broader sense, social network service usually means an individual-centered service whereas online community services are group-centered. Social networking sites allow users to share ideas, activities, events, and interests within their individual networks.

The Social Web is now used to describe how people socialize or interact with each other throughout the World Wide Web. Such people come together because a variety of shared interests. There are many different ways in which people want to socialize on the Web today. The first kind of socializing is typified by ‘people focus' websites such as Hyves, Facebook, and Twitter. Such sites promote the social interaction of a person. An online identity is constructed by each user. In many ways the profile is similar to a passport. The second kind of socializing is typified as ‘hobby focus' websites. For example, if someone is interested in football and wants to share things with like-minded people, then there are special websites for people who are interested in football. They can read all things about it and even talk with each other.

There are two ways in which people socialize with each other in the Social Web. The most general is always at a distance and only on the World Wide Web. In such situations there is never personal contact. You never meet de person, so you never know if the person is telling the true. But besides that there is another manner to socialize. There are websites where people get together. For example dating sites. These sites leads to real physical contact.

History of the social web

Before the whole Social Web showed up, their where early communities who focused on bringing all kind of people together to interact with each other through chat rooms, and share their personal information and ideas. This was only a small network before the 1990s. New social networking methods were quickly developed by the end of the 1990s, which changed the social networking model. The social networking world began to flourish as a component of business internet strategy around March 2005. In July 2005 there were more than 200 social networking sites over the whole world. All these website using the existing and emerging social networking models. Nowadays there are much more social websites.

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