TREND ANALYSIS ASSIGNMENT EngC 1011H COREY/SPOHN For most people, the terms "trend" and "fad“ are used interchangeably. • When the media tell us "what's hot" they label them as trends. • Someone who wears the latest fashions or has obscure new music on their iPod is called "trendy." This could be just a discussion of semantics, but perhaps there is a difference. For that, we need look no further than sociologist Dr. Dre on "Encore," the title song from an Eminem album: I'm a trend; I set one every time I'm in/ I go out and just come back full circle again/You a fad. That means you something that we already had/ But once you're gone, you don't come back/ Too bad--you're off the map now; radar can't even find you. In other words, fads are short- term fanaticisms; a blip in culture time whereby it seems the whole world is joined in the same craze. Exciting and electric as they are, they burn out fast. A fad is a fast and furious practice, product, or interest, fueled by tremendous hype and followed by a deep decline. Usually isolated to a few market segments, or particular demographic groups, fads are self- contained, short-lived phenomena. Witness the short- lived era of the Trucker Hat (2001- 2003, depending on whom you ask). Or Rubik's Cubes, virtual reality, grunge, day traders, and countless others. As Dre points out, fads are generally not missed once they are gone. We want fad amnesia, to forget them and bury them away. . . at least until the next generation revives them as retro goofs. That's because they stand for a certain point in time that we have moved past. Trends, though, may represent long-term changes or movements that are substantial to society. They become part of our DNA, even though they may begin with just a few people, the trendsetters. A trend is a slower, steadier development. Trends are characterized by new ways of doing business, new lifestyle practices, the changing needs of customers and new products or services that render older ones obsolete. While trends don’t usually generate as much enthusiasm as fads and take longer to develop, they are longer lasting and far more widespread. Instead of plummeting to their demise, many trends evolve into permanent shifts in the ways we live, work, and interact with others. Many types of trends exist, including industry, economic, societal, cultural, demographic, and technological. What you’re looking for . . . • Some service, product, behavior, or value that extends in one direction, follows a course that is traceable over time. • A line of movement that shows a prevailing inclination, a statistically detectable change. • A shift or veer in a new direction that is more than a current style or preference. Fads span several categories as well, most notably, entertainment, fashion and lifestyle. Both trends and fads begin on the fringe and move toward the center (the mainstream), but fads fall away, while trends continue to penetrate larger groups with lasting effects. Uncovering the epiphany - Fads create a frenzy and fade; trends spur a transformation in our culture. More fascinating still, many fads are the byproducts of larger, looming trends. Take the portable music trend spurred by the eighties boom box, which then evolved into the nineties walkman and matriculated into the millennium with the iPod. While the hardware has been replaced with devices that are more popular and portable, this trend has rocked steady for decades (and may already be classified as a permanent shift). Trendsetters get the ball rolling, like the first geeks who began file sharing on the Internet in the mid- nineties. They led to the digitalization of music, which has built new industries and changed the way most of us consume music. Or JFK, a trendsetter in many ways, who was credited with influencing men in the early sixties to go hatless. Since then, practically no one outside of a costume party, swing band or mafia film wears a Fedora. Trends have staying power. No matter how long since their initial popularity, they still matter. Take hip-hop music: • It could have been labeled an early eighties fad given its centrality on the streets of NYC. • Now it's at the foundation of our popular culture. • From Billboard and Total Request Live to ad jingles, with the look and fashion adorned by most every mallrat in Iowa. • Hip-hop and urbanization of culture was a trend that took hold over the last twenty years. Real trends have depth. Something causes their popularity and acceptance. In the example above, hip- hop must have fused itself to our culture for a reason. Understanding that is the job of sociologists, trendwatchers, market researchers and other professionals who are sought to analyze society and forecast the trends that will change the game. Their trend reports need to be more than lists of what's in at the moment. That is only spotting trends or fads Real trendwatchers . . . • Use analysis to understand what is behind the fad. • Examine why the trend is here. • Prognosticate what its prospects are for trend-hood. • Are wary of the latest hype and media spin, which often portray minor movements as national sensations. Some tips to help YOU be a trend-watcher . . . First, prove the trend exists. Second, determine what's driving the trend’s development. Trends are fueled by myriad strategic factors—a confluence of events—that culminate and fortify one another to produce fertile ground for the trends to take hold. Such drivers include technological innovations; government regulations and deregulations; economic developments; demographic shifts; lifestyle changes; and new values, attitudes, and preferences. Assess its overall appeal, the trend’s ability—and mobility— to achieve mainstream status. Gauge if it's easily adopted by various demographic groups and widespread market segments. It took producing a mid- market SUV before this automotive category was declared a trend. The same goes for the home computer; in the seventies computers were far too clunky, and much too costly, to achieve mainstream adoption. Equally important is availability; is the product readily available to the mainstream? Make a convincing case for a particular cause (s) Identify the trend’s level of influence: Is it an incident isolated to one or two market segments or is it broadly based? How readily does it replicate across market segments and societies? Remember, fads fade and tend not to replicate, but trends transcend such barriers and manifest themselves through an array of related tendencies and cultures. Chart the trend's connections to other categories, cultures, and consumer segments. Track the trend’s progression. Is it progressing or regressing? Trends steadily progress and build momentum over time. Take hip-hop, a two-prong trend encompassing entertainment and lifestyle preferences. While in its hey- day for the mainstream, rap actually made its way onto the music scene in the eighties. Had hip-hop been a fad, it would have come and gone (and come and gone again) during the last two decades. Instead, hip-hop has proven itself as a highly profitable business of music, movies, apparel and accessories (bling!). And rap music has established itself as a respectable genre in its own right (arguably a permanent shift for the music industry). In order to effectively analyze a trend, as opposed to simply reporting on a trend, you must consider the effects of the trend on the culture. If applicable, suggest possible solutions for the trend. An area that doesn't receive nearly the coverage it should is the countertrend. Simply put, each trend is matched by a prevailing countertrend. Look at the growing obsession with organic foods and the rising levels of obesity. Sure, people are trying to trim down with healthier diets, but processed food revenues are growing at equally compelling rates. Music and fashion thrive on counter-trending (though it could also be called counter-“fadding”). Look at Avril Lavigne poised as the anti- Britney, or Ashlee Simpson, primed as the antithesis of her songstress sister Jessica. For most trends, an opposite countertrend exists. If you feel as though you have no unique insights to offer on a trend, hunt for a counter-trend! Trend-spotting isn't just for entrepreneurs looking to start new companies or for marketing cutting-edge products. Consider the growing cultural emphasis on well-being. Take apart that trend, says Mary Meehan of Iconoculture, and you'll see several minitrends: • the yearning for mental and physical health • a desire for greater balance in one's life • a revitalized interest in hearth and home • a new focus on spirituality The response: • Grocery stores are stocking natural and organic foods, medicinal herbs, and nontoxic cleaning supplies. • Some insurance companies have expanded to cover alternative medicine. • Hardware stores are carrying air and water purifiers, nontoxic paints, and test kits for detecting contaminants such as lead. How do you start? • Valuable information is everywhere you look. • Read magazines, newspapers, and web articles; and watch TV news shows to spot recurring themes. • Scan Web sites, forums, and chat rooms. File away information for future reference. • Examine whether the fads around you add up to the deeper, wider trends. • Recognize that the obvious often isn't so obvious. You may see something in front of you, but when you analyze it, you see it's really something else. How many people go out and jog for an hour, then go home and eat a pint of ice cream? That's fitness and fatness in the same person. Big deal or big dud? Some times it’s tough to tell a fad from a trend TONGUE-SPLITTING BODY PIERCING • Hard to find qualified • Done at many malls practitioner • Quick and relatively • Involves surgery painless • Long-term recovery • Recovery involves • Tough to reverse cotton balls and • Difficult for peroxide employment • Holes close if not used • Scary looking! • Mainstream appeal Research and analyze a current cultural trend A. Prove the trend exists B. Analyze causes of the trend C. Make a convincing case for a particular cause(s) D. Refute counter causal arguments E. Consider the effects of the trend on the culture F. Consider solutions (if appropriate) Research A. Confirms your own hunches about the trend B. Suggests other causes for the trend C. Provides evidence in support of your proposed causes D. Suggests effects of the trend E. Suggests problems/solutions for the trend Basic Features of Trend Analysis • Presentation of Trend • A Convincing Causal Argument • An On-going Questioning Presentation of Trend • Introduce engagingly • Prove existence of trend through anecdotes, statistics • Provide details, background, current status • Thesis: identify both the trend and the main reason or reasons for the existence of the trend A Convincing Causal Argument • Include the presentation of the causes in an effective order • Provide evidence in support of each cause • Anticipate counter arguments • Refute counter arguments CAUSAL CHAIN Remote causes Foreign Competition Immediate causes Sales, profit drop Situation Clothing factory closes Immediate effects Jobs vanish Remote effects Town flounders Questions to Ask Yourself While Drafting • Have I mentioned only one or two causes when I should be accounting for several? • Have I mistakenly assumed that something that occurred prior to the beginning of the trend was therefore a cause? • How can I be sure not to confuse causes with effects? Sometimes effects can be sustaining the causes of a trend, but if that is so, I should acknowledge it as such. • Are any of my causes also results? • How can I show readers that I have accepted the burden of proof? I must offer proof for all my assertions and not assume the reader will understand or make connections. • How can I refute counter arguments without ridiculing their proponents?