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What's That Mean?
Trendspotting Is How Companies Today Stay Relevant — Here's What to Know
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AnnaMarie Houlis
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Trendspotting is a coveted skill across a gamut of industries. But what exactly does trendspotting mean and what industries use it?

What is trendspotting?

Of course, to understand trendspotting, you need to first understand what makes a trend a trend.

"A trend is the general direction the market is taking during a specified period of time," according to Investopedia. "Trends can be both upward and downward, relating to bullish and bearish markets, respectively. While there is no specified minimum amount of time required for a direction to be considered a trend, the longer the direction is maintained, the more notable the trend."

There are short-, intermediate- and long-term trends, which longer-term trends being the most prominent.

Trendspotting, then, simply refers to the identification of those trends. Though there's a lot more to it than that. Trendspotting means identifying trends on a local, regional and/or global level, understanding those trends, identifying best practices surrounding those trends and identifying innovation opportunities regarding those trends.

"When a new trend is born, it is not so much about being the first to spot the trend, but it is much more interesting to adapt the trend and innovate yourself," according to the Digital Tourism Think Tank. "As a marketer, you understand that it is not necessary to do and be where everyone else is but being in the right place, doing the right thing at the right time."

So why is trendspotting important? It's, in short, the intersection of markets and culture. This coveted understanding helps brands better understand what the mass market will want in years to come, which, of course, not only creates and elevates culture, but also helps business. That's because this kind of market research investigates the past, current and future consumption trends that can hugely support business activity.

Trendspotting is, of course, also important since it helps people and businesses manage risk and increase their profits.

"By watching the general trends of the markets, a trader may be able to match purchases and sales of particular stocks, maximizing his or her potential for profits," Investigating Answers explains. "At the same time, it is important to look at historical data in a larger context of conditions for the underlying company to understand if there are factors that may affect a stock's value irrespective of general market conditions or past performance.  For example, a trader should look inside the financial conditions of the company, understand the market and technologies, and anticipate competitive pressures on the company within its sector.  All of these tolls, as well as trend analysis, benefit a trader. "

What industries use trendspotting?

Most industries use trendspotting, even outside of the finance world. For example, fashion, technology and travel are all largely clued into trends in each respective industry.

In the fashion world, being able to identify different trends on a global scale, adapt those trends so they're culturally relevant and then innovate on those trends so that the scene moves forward, is what makes the wheels turn.

Technology, of course, needs to do the same — people use tech on a day-to-day basis, and some tech becomes trendier than others. Technology companies identify the trends in tech users (what they're using, when they're using it, why they're using it, how they're using it, etc.) in order to develop more advanced and overall better technology that creates a competitive marketplace.

Travel brands also look for trends in where, how and why people are traveling. This way, brands can look at how to appeal to more customers and target specific demographics of people.

Let's look at two examples in the travel realm:

  1. The wellness market is witnessing an upward trend, according to a wealth of research. The market was worth $9.9 billion in 2016, and Marketdata research anticipates that it’ll reach $13.2 billion by 2022. Trendspotters in the travel industry can take this information and run with it. And they are! Travel brands are curating wellness experiences (think retreat programs and self-care extras like spa services!) for travelers, many of whom are seeking out digital detoxes and silent retreats, studies show. In fact, silence was a top wellness trend of 2017, according to the Global Wellness Institute, which reports that deep-in-nature and totally disconnected destinations are "the new luxury."
  2. Social justice is a major trend in travel, at the moment, as well. That's because research has found that almost half of travelers feel that social issues in certain destinations actually affect whether or not they'll travel there. If they think there's a chance their travel will negatively impact the local people, they'll go somewhere else, according to Booking.com research. And, once they're at their destination, they're still hyperaware. They’re concerned about the fair treatment of staff and attention to social (and environmental) issues. In fact, 26 percent of consumers claim that social and environmental concerns impact their purchasing, according to Hartman Group’s Sustainability 2017 report. As such, many hotel brands are working to create programs that help the local people and environment.

Other industries that use trendspotting include:

  • Finance
  • Editorial
  • Marketing
  • Real Estate
  • Interior Design

How do you find trends?

Finding trends requires a lot of research. Trendspotters are trained to explore past and current trends in order to find future trends, as well. They do this through a process of trend analysis.

What is trend analysis?

Trend analysis refers to the analyzation of historical trends. To put it simply: Trend analysists attempt to determine future movements of a given variable and, ultimately, predict the future, by analyzing historical trends. They do this by collecting information and then looking for patterns within that information from which to draw their predictions.

"Trend analysis is based on the idea that what has happened in the past gives traders an idea of what will happen in the future," according to Investopedia.

Of course, trend analysis isn't always completely accurate, as predictions for the future are still predictions. But trend analysis helps businesses to make more informed decisions that can mitigate risk, increase profits and innovate.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.

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