6 March 2011
We are often asked to share our experience with global retailers and brands and help them refine their trend spotting process. We have a Trend Audit service whereby we can observe and analyse a company’s existing methods for trend spotting, and suggest solutions for plugging any gaps that may be there. It’s worth sharing with you an example of what ‘good’ looks like in terms of predicting change and developing the right trends – the best brands have this nailed and work hard to make sure their process is faultless.
In our experience this is what the best brands demonstrate and execute:
1. A clear, defined start to the season. Usually some sort of inspiring away day where they can think about new ideas, new directions, what worked before and what’s new.
2. Working sufficiently far ahead – some of our clients work 6 months ahead, some work 2 years ahead, but all of them work with us to create a strict critical path so that we all know deadlines and dates we’re expected to hit. Our clients work backwards from their delivery deadlines, so they know exactly when to book us in.
3. Senior management attending – most of our clients get senior management involved in some part of the trend forecasting process. If there’s something they don’t like, it’s best they know from day 1 what the concept directions will be so they can share comments there and then – much better than commenting 12 months later when the product is being shipped. It goes without saying that designers, buyers, marketing and PR teams must attend initial trend meetings to develop a coherent strategy. Each of these needs to bring their own ideas for future trends to the table too, good trend forecasting is all about a team approach.
4. Getting a good variety of external opinions, advice and expertise. Breadth of experience, style and information ensures you don’t miss a trend. The trick here is the editing stage – who’s in charge of deciding what does and doesn’t make it in the final cut?
5. Mid-season sense-check – a vital part of the process. It’s amazing how much the original plan can morph and change over a few months and it may be that things need to get pulled back on track. This also allows the opportunity to flag up any fast-moving ‘satellite trends’ that may have suddenly sprung forth. It’s at this stage in the season we help our clients decide exactly when each trend story and colour range should go in-store – down to the exact week.
6. Communicate with manufacturers from the off – get them involved in your management trend presentations and they will understand the finishes, techniques, style and look you’re after. They can then begin their own research files, looking out for production techniques that fit with your new concepts an bringing yet more innovation to you.
7. Test, test test! If you are not sure about a trend, colour or design, create a system whereby you can produce a short run of products and test them out. The best brands use this to get a read on new products before rolling them out. Fear is the enemy of trends! You won’t be fearful about new trends if you’ve already dipped your toe in the water and got a read on whether your customers like it.
8. One internal person is responsible for, and looks after all of trend. This person works with and briefs the external trend experts, collates information and is the go-to person for anything to do with trends.
9. A physical trend guide. Whether this is a poster, brochure or booklet, it’s important to have a trend document that shows exact colour palettes, pattern directions and concepts that can be shared with the internal team and externals like suppliers. Don’t forget to Copyright it.
10. Keep a logg of all seasonal trend developments. Any changes in directions should be noted, dated and signed off by head of trends. This way, if there was a product or theme you had to lose from your range for whatever reason, you know exactly when and why this decision was made.
If you’d like us to help you refine your trend spotting process, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Overall a great day which involved getting everyone's thoughts, ideas and reservations down on paper. I am looking forward to seeing how this information will be overlaid with the vital trend insights we need to drive new product development and long-term business growth.
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