Archive for the ‘trends’ Category

Sweet post by Chris Wilson over at The Marketing Fresh Peel this week:

An ability to perceptively spot trends is a vital part of putting your company ahead of the competition. But recognizing a trend is only half of the equation. It’s even more important that you take action. What good is it to spot a trend if you can’t take advantage of the coming wave?

This is where it becomes important to not only look for trends, but to look for them early. I’ve compiled a list of 20 different how to tips, tools, blogs and websites that can help you in spotting trends. They are organized into different categories.

Trend Tips

Get out of your office! Go somewhere that everyone seems to be. Watch people interact with each other. What are they doing? What are they wearing? Who is the center of attention? Why? Look for something different. Something unique.

Listen. Learn to listen to people (even the ones you can’t stand). Try to figure out why they think and believe what they do. Be curious. Ask questions and listen some more.

Volunteer. Getting involved with a project where you can give back will help you to get out of your comfort zone and into an a new environment with different people.

Watch the Celebs. No matter how much we hate it, celebrities often have access to fashions, products and trends before they go mainstream. When it comes to fashion they can even influence trends and consumer buying behavior.

Read something different. Once a week, pick up a magazine or trade journal from a totally different industry. What’s transforming the industry? How could this be applied to your business or product?

Dedicated to Trends

TrendsSpotting follows the behaviors and attitudes of internet users and regularly report and conduct surveys. Contributors to the site express their professional opinions on emerging trends and what they mean to you.

PSFK is one of my favorite sources for discovering emerging trends from around the world. The blog consistently delivers surprising observations. They also host a number of great conferences throughout the year.

Springwise boasts more than 8,000 “Springspotters” from around the world, all on the lookout for emerging trends. The site is a hub for entrepreneurs looking for their next business ideas.

Trend Hunter Magazine bring observations from a wide range of topics. The site provides 99 different RSS feeds, broken down into different categories, so that you can hone in on trends in a certain niche or industry. Trend Hunter also issues a number of reports and presentations.

Design Trends

Cool Hunting is blog that is self described as “a daily update on ideas and products in the intersection of art, design, culture and technology.” I find Cool Hunting to be an awesome source for a look at design trends, modern urban lifestyle, fashion and arts.

NOTCOT is a daily showcase of inspiring design works from around the world, “fighting the good fight against ‘creative block’ since 2005.” (NOTCOT.org, and Tastespotting are some other great sites in the NOTCOT network.)

Design*Sponge is a daily website/blog dedicated to home and product design. The site even sports a special mini trends section, exploring waves of small trends (colors, styles, patterns) as they are spotted.

Josh Spear covers everything from Design to gadgets to travel. It’s a must following for anyone wanting to stay ahead of the curve.

Rapid Online Trends

Google Search Trends is a tool with which you can cross search different terms and compare them. Do some research here.
You will find Google Hot Trends on this same page. This feature has become a valuable source of information providing rapid search trend reports. There have been numerous times where I have spotted major news on Google Trends, hours before the news broke on the national stations. By subscribing to the feed, you will receive updates every hour reporting Googles top 100 searches from the last hour.

Viral Video Chart is the ultimate source for tracking what’s moving in video. Their Top 20 Viral Chart is by far the most popular, but the site also breaks the videos down into different categories to help you fine-tune your research.

Trendpedia is a tool that scans blog content, making it easy to compare popular topics graphically. Find out what’s hot and what’s not.

Twist performs a similar function to Trendpedia, only comparing Twitter content trends.

Summize is a tool that makes it easy to search Twitter updates.

What’s your method for spotting trends?

Read the entire article here.

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For whatever reason, I recently started trying to stop using plastic bags. At the grocery store, at Target, and wherever else plastic bags rule the checkout counter, I try to do without them.

It started one day at Whole Foods. Here I am, feeling all green and superior and hip with my liter of organic kefir, my wedge of imported Pont L’Eveque, my quart of all natural taboule salad and my 100% recycled carton of free-range, hormone free, all vegetarian fed chicken eggs… when the girl at the counter asks me those dreaded words: “Paper or plastic?

Pause frame.

Paper bags are bad. They kill trees. Actually, they’re the crushed, melted and reconstituted remains of dead trees… and they’re harder to recycle, etc. So… no paper bags.

But what about plastic? Plants that make plastic bags spew all kinds of chemical pollutants all over the place, they’re all over South Carolina’s roadsides, and they fill gajillions of miles of landfills.

To give you an idea, worldwide, the number of plastic bags used is anywhere from 500 billion to 1 trillion every year. Americans throw away about 100 billion plastic bags each year, according to the Worldwatch Institute. Only 1 percent of them are ever recycled. That means that about 1.5 BILLION lbs of plastic bags hit landfills every year in the USA. That’s 4,000,000 lbs of plastic bags every single day.)

So… plastic bags are basically an unnecessary evil.

The question at the moment is “paper or plastic,” and I’m stumped.

That’s when I see the fancy little $0.99 (or $1.99) green “material” tote bags for sale right there by the counter. I figure… okay, they’re made out of recycled materials or whatever, so that’s good. And I can use them over and over again, which is also good because I won’t be uselessly throwing bags away anymore.

So I buy two bags, the cute young cashier proudly fills them with my food with extra care, and I drive home, proud as a bug for having taken a big step towards being a better human being.

But then something weird happens a few days later. When I use my Whole Food bags at Bloom, I get dirty looks from the cashiers. I even get a comment on my way out: “It’s not very nice using those Whole Foods totes in Bloom. They’re a competitor. Why don’t you use ours?” The cashier is joking, of course… but not really. So the following visit, I buy a couple of Bloom bags and use them to carry my food home. I now have two sets of totes.

A week later, the same thing happens at Publix. I add a set of Publix tote bags to my growing collection.

I now carry three pairs of tote bags in my car. This way, not only will I not be using plastic bags anymore, I also make sure not to offend anyone at any grocery store by using a competitor’s bag. These are the lengths I go to to be a good little neighbor. A good little shopper. A responsible corporate citizen.

It is complete nonsense, but it makes everyone happy and I can be brand-friendly.

Anyway. That isn’t my story. This is my story: I’m in Whole Foods three weeks ago, with my two good karma WF tote bags, buying all kinds of overpriced but very healthy sounding food items, when I notice that the bagger is wrapping all of my stuff individually with plastic bags before putting them in my tote.

She’s about half way done when I look up from the card pad thing and catch her in the act. I watch her take a bottle of Kombucha, wrap it in a plastic bag, and carefully place it inside the tote. There are more plastic bags inside my tote than if she had just bagged my stuff in a couple of regular plastic bags.

WTF?!?!?! Luckily, by the time the thought makes it to my mouth, it sounds more like “Um… wait… What are you doing?”

The innocent little old lady blinks up at me with the kindest smile. There is absolutely no way I can be mean to this woman. In the friendliest way possible, I tell her that she doesn’t need to wrap any of my stuff in plastic bags. She insists. I explain that I am trying to reduce my use of plastic bags… which is why I use the totes. She doesn’t seem to understand, at first. She looks down at the totes and seems confused. But then she gets it and apologizes. She starts reaching into the totes and unwraps everything. I don’t stop her… but I thank her half a dozen times.

On my way to my car, I ponder the possibility that perhaps as a people, we’ve become completely addicted to plastic bags.

My next grocery outing takes me to my neighborhood Publix, where the exact same thing happens. Instead of just putting my stuff in the totes, the bagging lady wraps them in plastic bags first. WTF?!?!?!

I go through the same dialogue: I’m trying to stop using plastic bags. Hence the totes.

As I said: Addiction.

I expect that a year from now, this confusion will be water under the bridge, but this is South Carolina, so… maybe not.

I figure most people here will not change their plastic bag habits unless retailers (or local and state lawmakers) follow the example of our clever brothers from another mother in Ireland.

From PSFK‘s Piers Fawkes:

Will the plastic bag be remembered in the same way we now think of how they used to smoke on the London Underground or maybe even how people used to wear fur coats? The image of the plastic shopping bag has taken a drastic plummet in Ireland as carriers are cast as socially irresponsible, the New York Times reports. After a tax charge of 33 cents a bag was instigated at cash registers, use of plastic bags plummeted and were replaced by the owners’ reusable cloth ones. The NY Times reports:

Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent. Within a year, nearly everyone had bought reusable cloth bags, keeping them in offices and in the backs of cars. Plastic bags were not outlawed, but carrying them became socially unacceptable — on a par with wearing a fur coat or not cleaning up after one’s dog….Today, Ireland’s retailers are great promoters of taxing the bags. “I spent many months arguing against this tax with the minister; I thought customers wouldn’t accept it,” said Senator Feargal Quinn, founder of the Superquinn chain. “But I have become a big, big enthusiast.”

Mr. Quinn is also president of EuroCommerce, a group representing six million European retailers. In that capacity, he has encouraged a plastic bag tax in other countries. But members are not buying it. “They say: ‘Oh, no, no. It wouldn’t work. It wouldn’t be acceptable in our country,’ ” Mr. Quinn said.

As nations fail to act decisively, some environmentally conscious chains have moved in with their own policies. Whole Foods Market announced in January that its stores would no longer offer disposable plastic bags, using recycled paper or cloth instead, and many chains are starting to charge customers for plastic bags.

But such ad hoc efforts are unlikely to have the impact of a national tax. Mr. Quinn said that when his Superquinn stores tried a decade ago to charge 1 cent for plastic bags, customers rebelled. He found himself standing at the cash register buying bags for customers with change from his own pocket to prevent them from going elsewhere.

NY Times

This is how little things can have a huge impact almost right away. It just takes the will to do it. Doesn’t it seem like perhaps we should have thought of this first?

Why this post? A) Because it’s an interesting experience actually having to fight everyones urge to bag groceries in plastic bags for no good reason, and B) Because branding is soon going to become a big driver in the adoption of tote bags. And I don’t mean the amorphous canvas bags you can decorate with sharpies. I mean the new style bags that are popping up in grocery stores all across the US.

Let’s face it: I don’t want to carry three sets of totes with specific grocery store logos on them. As much as I like Bloom, Publix and Whole Foods’ logos, I would much rather have one set of totes for all three places (and more). I can’t keep track, honestly. And call me silly, but I don’t want to attract the ire of another cashier for using a competitor’s bag to carry my groceries home. The fact is that it’s kind of rude anyway.

Enter the clever marketers and fashion houses: Gap totes. Gucci totes. Chevrolet totes. Coca Cola totes. Starbucks totes. Greenpeace totes. Nike totes. Nascar. NFL. Olympic Games. NBC. HBO. First Baptist Church. Mauldin High School. Bank of America. Girl Scouts. Delta Airlines. Doritos. m&m’s.

I would much rather have a VW logo on my tote… or a Canon logo… or the emblem of Manchester United, than a Whole Foods, Bloom or Publix logo. If I am going to carry a tote into a store, I want it to say something about me. I want it to be cool and relevant, like everything else in my world. Why limit myself to a boring grocery store logo when my tote can be an outwardly expression of who I am. Isn’t this what we’re all about now? Myspace, facebook, custom T-shirts and license plates, blogs, everyone’s so-called personal style?

Who the hell wants to carry a Wal-Mart or Bi-Lo tote bag around? My grandma, maybe. But I bet she’d rather walk around carrying a UNICEF tote. Or something a little more a propos, like Iron Maiden or Pantera. Maybe a Che tote. Maybe The Sex Pistols.

I dread the day when I start seeing WWJD totes invade the aisles of my local supermarket, but whatever. It’s as inevitable as bad taste, so I’m ready for that unfortunate reality.

The possibilities are endless if you think about it. The issue here is one of distribution, of course: The tote bag is a commodity item you purchase at the grocery store’s cash register. You probably don’t want to make a special trip to the Apple store or the VW dealership to get yourself a $1.99 tote bag. It just isn’t realistic. At least not yet. Which means that totes could soon stop being a commodity item. Totes could soon be priced at $4.99 or $9.99, depending on what is printed on them. Competition for placement inside store might become pretty stiff.

We could have tote wars.

Realistically, I could see a system by which your Gap or Banana Republic purchase could go into a $4.99 Gap or Banana Republic tote (which you would also use at the grocery store) – and every time you used your tote with subsequent purchases, you could enjoy a 5% discount. Think of the totes as a) a way to eliminate the cost of plastic bags in a company’s P&L, b) a way to gain some good PR karma by being “environmentally” conscious, and c) a new version of a discount card. The tote is the discount card.

For the smartest marketers out there, the tote could even be equipped with a chip that records its owner’s purchasing habits.

With the exception of the chip thing, if advertisers/vendors don’t start this branding trend, the tote bag manufacturers will when the adoption curve eventually flattens and sales grow stagnant. They will have to find ways to entice shoppers to buy – and even collect new totes.

This seems a little ridiculous and far fetched, but let’s revisit this in a year and see where things are. You might be surprised. Meanwhile, I’ll be keeping an eye on what our Irish friends are doing in the tote department. Whatever trends emerge out of this, they will surely start there.

PS: I think that a set of Orange Yeti tote bags would be pretty fly.

Additional reading: Sixwise.com, China to ban plastic bags, Fashion tackles totes.

Have a great hump day, everyone.

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Today is Day #2 of our review of French marketing trend notes for 2008.

(This whole translation business is actually not bad at all. I think I’m getting the hang of it.)

Read the original interview here.

Nicolas Riou (Brain Value):

As consumers grow less and less passive, brands must modify their approach in order to continue seducing them. (…)

Reading consumers is becoming very complex and presents a number of contradictions. We can no longer rely on traditional benchmarks. We forget the term “consumer” to replace it with “individual”. (…)

Consumers, like brands, now express themselves on the internet. In fact, consumers now tend to trust other consumers’ opinions posted on forums than actual brand communications. Power is changing hands. Brands are losing control over their own image but also take advantage of the content creation and associated buzz generated by consumers. Interestingly, some brands are attempting to regain control of this content creation by organizing contests. In 2007, Liebig organized a content creation contest that focused on recipes, and l’Oréal organized an advertising campaign design contest which promised its winners exposure for their work.

Consensus living is starting to gain momentum. Consumers are much more attentive to the way they make purchases and live their lives. Purchases of organic products reflect an trend towards all things natural, pro-health, and the reinforcement of ecologically driven imperatives. People are now much more attentive to traceability, recyclability, and the carbon footprint of products (as it relates to energy consumed during their production, distribution, etc.). This trend towards making products traceable from a to z is currently revolutionizing the food industry. Consumers can now look at a food product’s packaging and immediately see the difference between a kiwi fruit which traveled 20,000 kilometers and a kiwi grown in a neighboring country. This product labeling model is gaining incredible momentum in Japan, notably with mobile devices, and should start showing up in France in two or three years.

Buzz marketing aside, the 360° phenomenon is growing quickly. Consumer touchpoints are multiplying and making use of increasingly non-traditional methods of advertising. Still, these new strategies are not necessarily replacing more traditional marketing methods to inspire emotional attachment to brands. Both as consumers and fans of entertainment we still crave the familiarity of TV advertising and big media.

Interesting how in some ways, the French are a bit behind the US in terms of user content, realizing that the balance of power has shifted, and the use of the internet (hey, the French government held on to the minitel for so long that French adoption of PC’s and access to the internet was delayed for almost a decade)… yet their sophistication when it comes to a) product labeling and the role it plays in helping consumers make purchasing decisions, and b) ecological responsibility, is decades ahead of the US.

The carbon footprint of a ribeye steak? Really? In the US? I’d buy that for a dollar!

Have a great weekend, everyone. 🙂

Photo by NASA.

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