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How to spot a trend

Last week we attended a seminar called ‘How to Spot a Trend’ by Insider Trends held at the British Library in London. If you get a chance to attend one of these seminars we would highly recommend that you do - we took an awful lot away in just 3 hours, some of which we thought we would share with you to give you a little insight into spotting trends for yourself.

Written By:
Trudy Collins
  • 31/10/2013
  • 8 Mins to Read
  • By: Trudy Collins
  • Share

Firstly, what is a trend, and why should I be spotting them?

A trend is the general tendency or direction in which something’s going to move, develop or change. It’s defined by a shift in mentality or behavior that then influences a significant number of people.

Not to be confused with ‘fashions’ or ‘fads’ which increase dramatically followed by an almost immediate decline, trends last much longer and have a much greater impact on society.

It’s important to be on the lookout for the newest trends so you can plan more effectively for the future and introduce more successful initiatives to your business. By focusing on what will happen next, you can make more informed decisions in less time, saving a lot of energy and money in the long run.

Step 1: Know your objectives

Firstly, you shouldn’t dive into spotting trends before you know why you’re spotting them and what you want to achieve. For example, are you looking to find an idea that will make you money, or that will encourage your existing target audience to spend more with you? Who are you targeting? Establish your goals and chosen industry before you move forward.

Step 2: Understand the Landscape


The Innovators: These are your quirky, open minded and extravert people who innovate new ideas, try new things, take big risks and generally don’t care about what people think. Only 2.5% of people are innovators, so you may not even know one personally. If you do, it’s recommended that you get to know them, find out what they do, where they go and generally feed off of their thoughts and habits.

Early Adopters: They’re considered to be a ‘go to’ person for new information and early trends. They take the trends early on and encourage others to join in by reducing their fears. Often have disposable income/more free time to invest in trends at their early stages.

Early Majority: Take their time to asses products and new trends before they take them on – need to know that they won’t be considered strange. Willing to embrace new trends as long as they understand how it will fit in with their lives.

Late Majority: Adopt in reaction to peer pressure, emerging norms, or econimic necessity. Any uncertainty and fears must be resolved before they adopt the trend.

Laggards: Traditional, make decisions based on past experiences. Often economically unable to take risks on new ideas. Into specific hobbies  – could potentially be the innovator of a particular concept or industry.

Step 3: Look & Observe

Once you have a clearer picture of who you should be talking to, and where you should be hanging out, what you should be reading and watching – do it. Immerse yourself in information from your chosen areas, research as much as you can.

Handy Research Tools:

  • Twitter Search
  • Google Alerts
  • Google News
  • Kickstarter – a great website showcasing the latest products, inventions and trends.
  • Newspapers, magazines & blogs
  • Email Newsletters & Facebook Pages
  • Market research, surveys and polls
  • Everyday observations and conversations with industry experts, innovators and anyone else on the innovation curve

Step 4: Connect the Dots

Once you’ve collated information and the latest news from your chosen area, you can start to group articles together, assess and find connections between the elements.

Tools for collating and bookmarking your findings:

  • Evernote – A great tool that lets you assign photos, docs, scans, notes etc for future reference.
  • Pinterest – A great content sharing service that allows members to “pin” images, videos and other objects to their pinboard for future reference.
  • Delicious – An online social bookmarks manager that lets you save, organise and discover interesting links on the web.
  • Freemind – great free tool for creating mindmaps
  • Old fashioned pen & paper, sticky notes & white boards!

Step 5: Assess & Test

Once you have connected the dots between your findings and found re-occuring themes and connections, you can then assess the potential trends to see how they are doing in the current landscape, and make potential predictions for the trends future using the following:

Google Keywords: By using google keywords you can see the average number of searches that your potential trend is typed into Google each month, and compare them to other trends and keywords.

Google Trends: Google Trends is really good for seeing the fluctuation of trends, how well they’ve done in the past, how well they’re doing now and make predictions of how well they’ll do in the future.

Then ask yourself the following:

  • What are the needs that the trend satisfies (is it a trend or fad)?
  • How many people won’t be able to or be interested in taking advantage of the trend?
  • What will affect the speed of the trend?
  • Where is the trend now – who’s currently using it on the innovation curve?

Once you have a solid idea that’s on trend and that will survive within the current landscape, find out the following:

  • What demographics are you targeting (get to know them and ask them questions)
  • What is the investment required and how profitable is the idea?
  • What’s the longevity of the concept?

If you wanted to learn more about trendspotting, we would thoroughly recommend attending one of the monthly ‘How to Spot a Trend’ seminars by Insider Trends – the above lists just a few key takeaways along with a few bits of our own research, but by attending one of their seminars you’ll watch insightful videos, gain skills and take part in challenging group activities which put trendspotting skills into practice – you’ll also receive a great trendspotting pack which goes into the above points and other areas of trendspotting in a lot more detail – we couldn’t recommend it highly enough, it’s well worth 3 hours of your time!

It’s important to be on the lookout for the newest trends so you can plan more effectively for the future and introduce more successful initiatives to your business.