People are very much interested in tomorrow and I guess that’s why Tarot card readers, palm readers, astrologists, crystal ball gazers and other forms of predicting the future continue to be popular year after year.
In Bangkok, where I live, the nighttime brings out the palm and card readers. By candlelight and squatting on a blanket, these fortune and future tellers entertain one customer after another.
It amazes me how many of these customers believe the words of a person who looks as if they’re one step away from total devastation.
This is not my way of spotting a trend, but it does confirm the naivety of many societies. If you want to believe in such things, more power to you.
This is about ways to spot a real trend in the consumer marketplace. Is it easy? Once you know the access points, it becomes easier and I’m going to share three with you.
Since everyone on planet Earth is a consumer, I’ll focus on the consumer trends. How do you figure out what the next “big” thing is going to be?
One way is to develop your resources. Take a second and just think about the items which you purchase or have purchased over the last few years. The reason I ask you to go back a few years is because many large ticket items are not purchased on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis; e.g. cars, homes, refrigerators, and furniture, to name a few.
One of the biggest influences on your life is fashion. Even if you say that you are not a fashion person, or flatly say that you have no interest in fashion, change that way of thinking right now.
Fashion isn’t just about apparel or the length of shirt or the cut of a pair of pants. Fashion is color and color combinations; what, you think Apple just picked at random, the colors for their iPods? Ever wonder why televisions aren’t commonly made in forest green?
Fashion is texture. It’s not all about how something looks, it’s more about how to get the look and that’s with texture. Yes, from a distance, two blue suits look the same, but with a closer inspection, the fabric or texture will set them apart and the person wearing the suit.
Fashion is experimentation. You have to admit that not all fashion items become a trend, some fall flat on their backside.
Fashion is combinations. Not only in color, but in fabric, weight, stitching, and more, right down to the label used. (Remember when labels were sewn on the inside of clothes?)
The reason I suggest fashion as something to follow is because fashion runs ahead of time. I grew up in the retail business and buying summer sandals for the store in December was always weird to me, because if you selected the wrong style, they would be the end of season sale items. (Read as “lost money.”)
Since fashion is always running ahead a season or a year or more, you can get an idea of what people will be wearing. It will give you an insight into color combinations. Things like; brown is the new black, as an example.
You won’t get a lot from fashion if you pick up your first magazine tomorrow and thumb through it, but you will start spotting the changes (many of which are subtle) if you consistently keep an eye toward fashion.
Many of the fashion magazines will have their models posing with future products from companies and that’s where you have to train your eye to spot them. You may not like the gown that the woman is wearing and you may think the suit that the man is wearing is a bit too wild for you, but look at the watches that they’re wearing, how are they wearing their hair, which color combinations are being put together?
Are they showing animals, such as dogs in the photos? If so, which kind of dog is it?
Which type of car, home, or child’s toy is in the background, or foreground? Every image in a fashion photograph has a purpose, uncover the trend by paying attention to fashion.
You may think I’m crazy, but the space program is a great source for trends. Why? The government spends money and lots of it on the space program.
The government pays contractors exorbitant amounts of money to develop technology. The space program has been responsible for more items than just Tang. Lenses, fabrics, electronics, communication, and we’ve all heard the expression in an ad over the years, “featuring space age technology.”
Tune into space and you’ll tune into tomorrows materials and items that will filter down to the consumer over time, maybe because of you.
Carbon fiber was once a rare material, now it’s in items from golf clubs to automobiles. Someone took the next step by looking at materials of the future and adapting them to present day items and it worked.
I could go on and on about different ways to spot trends and my eBook about spotting trends is almost finished, but I promised three, so here’s the third one.
Talking. I’m not kidding. Talking is a great way to hit on a trend. We all know people and you should always keep trying to meet new people from different walks of life and industries.
Sometimes, just over a cup of coffee you can learn what a coming trend is. The easiest example I can give you for the sake of this article is real estate.
Having a bite to eat or a cocktail with one of your new found friends from the realm of real estate can give you some real opportunity trends. Remember, there’s residential and commercial real estate out there.
Which companies are moving to your city? Why are they moving there? If one company moved there because of the logistics of the highway system, ask yourself, who else would the location be a prime candidate for.
Where are the developers optioning property? Which areas of the city are going to be rezoned? Is there an urban renewal project in the works?
Believe me, for the cost of a nice meal, some great conversation, a little new friendship bonding, you can find out a lot about what is going to happen; the trend.
Please, don’t take what I say lightly. Fashion, space, and talking can give you a lot of ideas about how the economy is going, which industries are about to flourish, how the holiday shopping season will do, new job potential, ancillary services which will be required.
For example, look at the custom auto wheel market. Wheels exist, but a trend developed from someone sick of hubcaps into a multi-million dollar industry and there are plenty of people making money from auto accessories that you may have just thought; “hey, why didn’t I think of that.”
Creative thinking is one of my passions and that is why I write about it and practice it everyday of my life.