Saturday, October 08, 2005

Forecasting Hot or Cool Trends

The Los Angeles Times chronicles the work of the trend forecasters previously known as “coolhunters”. Their research helps large corporations to develop and offer products –and services- that will take advantage of the latest trends or fads.

But thanks to (or blame?) the Internet, fads come and go as fast as you can say “Macarena”.

According to the profiled experts, these are the “Macro” trends of the moment:

  • "Conscious living" — increased social activism, community service, spiritual awakening, eco style, the organic boom.
  • "Hot land values" — real estate craze, Middle America, Christian-themed entertainment, redneck humor.
  • "Hip parenting" — stylish, Gen-X-driven baby brands, blogs and mags, kid-friendly rock shows, members-only clubs.
  • "Curation nation" — mass customization craze, e.g., podcasting, TiVo, custom Nikes, Internet-driven interests, niches.

What are the lessons for service businesses?

First, if you decide to focus your service offerings towards the “trendy”, you better continue to follow that course, or risk getting an imaginary “passé” stamp on your door next month.

Second, trends –long-lasting or short-lived- are not only tangibles such as colors and styles or flavors. Trends also include the way things are done. And they are part of the customer’s expectations. And if customers don’t get what they expect, there’s no quality in the service.

For some reason, McDonalds introduced salads and such in their menus.