Is it a Consumer Trend or a Passing Fad?
Most market researchers have a good tally of how many times they’ve heard “How come we didn’t know about this trend earlier?” or conversely “Why did we spend all these dollars on new product development when this was only a temporary fad?”. It’s truly a no-win situation. Most of the time, it’s not that marketing researchers haven’t seen some consumer shift coming, it’s that we didn’t have a good sense of its scale or duration. I’d argue that another problem is that we don’t always have our terms right. While we may not be any better at predicting the future, we at least should be able to agree on what’s a trend versus a minor fad.
Trendingwatching.com is an excellent resource for anyone with an interest on how the consumer landscape may be shifting. Their monthly briefings have a wealth of information and a quick search through their back issues can find something for everyone. Their latest issue attempts to define what a trend is and what it is not and to provide a common language we can all use to discuss them. They define a trend as:
A manifestation of something that has unlocked or newly serviced an existing (and hardly ever changing) consumer need, desire, want, or value.
What a trend isn’t is a fashion, color, or flavor fad that will be gone by next year, or something that’s still 15 to 20 years out from having a major impact on society. Predicting what’s the next major consumer trend is not a sure science, but having one’s terms right can at least eliminate a lot of confusion.