Confessions of a trend hunter: how to discover in advance we will not become all vegans
“Trend hunters.” This term has always amused me, because it describes perfectly the art of intercepting and tailing the first signs of a trend in the digital world, to predict how it will evolve in the future.
It is a real hunt, clue after clue … and it is fun and challenging at the same time!
Just the concept of a trend, in fact, is very charming. Intangible but very powerful at the same time, a trend can have a tremendous impact – sometimes even destructive! – on companies and on the society in general.
A trend is like a drop falling from the ceiling of a cave: apparently invisible and powerless, day after day the drop keeps falling consistently… and over time it rises to a stalagmite of tens of meters.
One day there is nothing, and then suddenly… there is a huge stalagmite that seems to have been always there!
Similarly, a trend proceeds gradually (much faster than a stalagmite, thankfully!), without anyone noticing. But when it becomes so evidente that more and more people realize it … then it’s already the norm!
We trend hunters do just that: we identify the trend before the stalagmite is visible to every one, while it is still only a seemingly innocuous ledge. ”
This way you can be prepared in advanced, without falling off the face of the earth when it’s too late!
Let me showyou an example to understand better what I’m talking about.
Think for example of the global trend of the healthy eating and especially the vegan world. “Vegan”: up to about ten years ago this word was unknown to the general public and no one spoke about it… at most, people talked about vegetarians!
Today, however, veganism is everywhere: from restaurants, to the products in the supermarket, to television. As it should be, it seems more than normal and we use the term “vegan” daily.
In the last few years, all packaged food manufacturers, from biscuits to frozen food, have begun to offer vegan products and – think how absurd it is – they had to insert the symbol of “vegan product” even in packages of products which are vegan by definition, such as canned tomatoes or frozen soup!
The same applies to restaurants, where on the menu the vegan symbol is next to the salad! 😉
- 1 This trend has deeply shaken the food companies, which were obliged to adapt to new standards and to change their market strategy, and it even impacted people’s lives.
- 2 My first tip is to start from the simplest thing: the online searches people do on search engines.
- 4 In addition to Google researches, we have another terrific source of information on the web: conversations of people on social networks.
- 6 One thing I always do is searching if there are studies and market research on the industry and in particular on the specific topic of the trend.
- 7 At this point you can also do a search on the websites dedicated to trend hunting, which collect information about new trends.
- 9 Another trail are all the brand names of the companies that have come out of the Google searches and from the social listening.
- 10 Now the fun begins. It’s time to connect the dots!
- 12 Here is the final advice: never rush.
- 13 But from what I told you, I’m sure you understand how discovering new trends may be important for you.
This trend has deeply shaken the food companies, which were obliged to adapt to new standards and to change their market strategy, and it even impacted people’s lives.
But when did it all start, where and why?
Think of how would have been useful for companies to know in advance that what seemed just a niche interest would have become the new normal!
Well, I’ll tell you a secret: it would have been possible to predict it!
Investigating how the veganism trend has evolved in the last years, we can find out when it started and how it has slowly grown, when he had its boom and even what are the topics that are growing the most right now.
“Of course” you are thinking, “looking back it’s easier!”
You’re right, looking back is always easier because you already know what you are looking for.
But what I want to tell you today is that it’s possibile to do a lot also for detecting latent trends that are developing right now, of which we can pick up the first signs.
Studying a trend is not easy and, above all, is not always the same research: every sector and every situation is different and you have to proceed in an exploratory way, following the evidence and going gradually deeper into the most interesting discoveries.
No textbooks explain how to follow a trend and they do not teach it at the University: it’s something that you learn on the field.
My luck was to be forced to dive into these searches from the start, even when I did not have any knowledge about how to do it.
I started to look for information, I did not find them, I felt desperate, I kept on, I started to look for information on how to search for information… and mistake after mistake, discovery after discovery, I finally developed a method to intercept trends at best.
I have transmitted this method to other CMI agents, and so today we can help companies and marketing agencies to avoid being surprised by unexpected trends, and above all to be the first to ride the new emerging trends.
Are you looking for help in tracing the trends in your industry, or do you already have a thought into your head that something is changing – but do you want to be sure about it? Click here to find out how you can hire a CMI Agent who starts immediately to track the trend that interests you!
If on the contrary you want to become a hunter trend as well, keep reading this article: in the next lines I will reveal my advice to plot a trend in the fullest way as possible.
Learning all this costed me years of effort and field work… but today I decided to share it with you to prevent you too go through my same ordeal, sleepless nights and above all, hundreds of open tabs on my browser!
My first tip is to start from the simplest thing: the online searches people do on search engines.
It could be summarized as: “Tell me what you want and I’ll tell you what trend you are.”
The first indicator that allows us to study a trend, in fact, are the words people look for on Google.
When a person has a concern or is seeking for information, everything starts from there: they open the browser and type in their doubt on Google.
Look for example at this chart on Google searches for topics related to veganism in Italy, to continue with the example above.
Performance of Google searches related to Veganism 2004-2017 in Italy
Who would have thought? The first thing we find out is that veganism has been researched more than vegetarianism in the last three years! In addition, look at the graph: the number of vegetarianism searches were decreasing, but with the advent of veganism it has returned to growth from 2010 onwards.
The researches on Google tell us other interesting things: in which regions and even in which cities the trend is more obvious, what are the most searched topics and what are the keyword combinations.
We can also find out what are the topics that are gaining popularity right now. In the eaxmple, the main ones are “vegan restaurant” and “vegan cake”, who recently had a spike.
In this case, as I said before, we are doing an analysis in retrospect. But when you want to analyze a trend that is still latent, you can start by researching on the industry in general and then see what words have the highest growth. Once you localize them, you can study if those words have a recognizable search trend pattern… with the opportunity to look all around the world!
Just this first stage could cost you hours and hours of work, because the pieces of information that can emerge are the most diverse.
But let’s proceed with the next steps in trend hunting, because the information we gathered must now be explored in depth in different directions.
People write on Twitter, publish photos on Instagram and make comments on Facebook, talking about the things they love and hate. It is a huge database, which thanks to the right software can tell us a lot about how people tastes are evolving and their ways of thinking. Not to mention all the articles on online newspapers, blogs and forums!
The trick is to listen to the right things in the right way: thanks to our findings on the most popular Google searches, we have a base to start. We first look at the online conversations on a general level, and then from there we explore the more specific topics that arise between the words more used by people.
Keeping on with the previous example of veganism, in the graph below you can see the conversations on social media in the last year in Italy about that topic.
In fact, in 2016 there was a decline in veganism conversations – hand in hand with the Google searches trend we saw some minutes ago!
Besides having all these aggregate data, which at a glance make you understand the situation and see if there is an increase or not, social listening offers you many other tracks you can follow.
Identifying the most shared links, in fact, you can find interesting articles to read on the subject to better understand the context.
Investigating among the users and the most influential online media who are talking about the topic, you can figure out who is able to influence this trend and how.
You can also review the conversations and find out what are the main topics: it’s interesting, in the example, to find out how the “vegan restaurants” topic does not emerge among the topics covered in the conversations, but people rather talk about product ingredients and health, which are very important for people.
Great, but let me clarify one thing for you.
Choosing the social listening software is not easy. I have tested dozens of them before choosing the best ones! If you want a quality result you should be willing to spend and, above all, it takes time to learn to use it well.
But let’s go back to the trend hunting. Now that you’ve done your research on your social listening software and you have better framed the situation, we can make a few more steps to deepen the trend!
One thing I always do is searching if there are studies and market research on the industry and in particular on the specific topic of the trend.
To find the titles of the research, you can start right from the online media you’ve just discovered and that often talk about the topic, then you can search on market surveys directories.
In some cases, the reports cost thousands of euro, but when you find the title of the research, almost certainly you can find an excerpt that gives you all the relevant information. And if the market search seams so interesting … then you can consider buying it!
At this point you can also do a search on the websites dedicated to trend hunting, which collect information about new trends.
To find the research on the trend that interests you, use the keywords you discovered in the first stages of the investigation.
Keeping on with the Vegan example, below you can see how there are different trends in place related to the topic on the trend hunting websites: from vegan sandals to cannabis to eat. Depending on the reason why we are studying the trend, some articles could be very interesting!
You can visit their websites and study what they are doing in relation to the trend. You might as well find out if they are launching new product lines on the trend, if they are doing special marketing actions on the subject and also what is the audience reaction to their campaigns.
Hence, as you have sure understood, every discovery is a clue that leads you to see a larger picture.
“And now?” You might be wondering. “After I collected all this huge amount of information.. what do I do with it??”
Now the fun begins. It’s time to connect the dots!
Putting together all the information you’ve collected you can finally make sense, interpreting the signals and getting a more precise idea of what is happening and why. You’ll see that after literally immersing yourselg in this topic, it will be easy to choose the important information and the most explanatory graphs!
Well, now you’re almost ready to become a real trend hunter, able to sniff and hunt the trends that interest you.
Here is the final advice: never rush.
Read everything you can find, go even deeper and take notes along the way.
In fact, the most important skill for a trend hunter is… patience!
Doing this work in a hurry, you risk of making a blunder and unintentionally drew conclusions that are completely wrong.
I still remember when a customer came to me saying that he had already tried to analyze a trend, but he had not found anything regarding that in Europe. The reason? In the US people used some words, while in Europe the words were completely different! Do you see? It was necessary to conduct two distinct researches, and from each of them to figure out what terms to include and which not.
Just setting up a social listening query properly may take several hours… I’ll let you imagine the time it takes to interpret the results!
So I understand if you do not have the time (and the desire) to embark on an investigation like this.
You already have your job, so you should not be concerned also about online software and data analysis!
But from what I told you, I’m sure you understand how discovering new trends may be important for you.
It is important if you work in a company, to see if and when to launch a new line, discovering how the market is changing.
It is important if you work in a marketing agency, to give a better service to your customers.
It is important if you are a journalist and/or you work in publishing, to share interesting articles and be the first to spread the news about a trend.
You got the point … it’s important!
So don’t despair, we are here to help. The CMI Agents are ready to hunt for you the trends that interests you, starting from the point at which you arrived, and discussing the results with you.
To hire a CMI agent, all you have to do is clicking here and filling out the form, telling us more about you and what you want to find out. We will contact you back as soon as possible to understand how we can help.
Remember: predicting the future is not possible… but we can come close, before it’s too late!