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Keynote Speaker: Connect the Dots to Spot Trends

ORLANDO, FL — A former Target trend, design and product development vice president offered advice on how to spot trends and make the most of them during her keynote presentation at the catalog conference here yesterday.

Robyn Waters, founder/president of RW Trend LLC, Minneapolis, and the author of “The Trendmaster's Guide From A to Z,” urged attendees to keep the big picture in mind when looking for trends.

She used household paint as an example. For years, paint manufacturers spent significant amounts of money and effort on improving paint formulas. Then, Dutch Boy looked at the bigger picture of how customers experience painting. As a result, it introduced a new plastic container with a pour spout to make the experience easier. It generated significant sales increases.

Spotting trends is often a matter of connecting the dots of what's happening around you and figuring out how it applies to your company or product, Waters said.

“Trends are emerging patterns that, in hindsight, make all the sense in the world,” she said.

After noticing the trend for an increasing array of products and services for pets, nail polish company OPI introduced OPI Pawlish. The line, billed as color for those with tails, has received a lot of press attention, according to Waters.

Another example is Korean electronics manufacturer LG, which introduced a cell phone with a built-in compass that automatically points to Mecca when it is time for Muslims to pray. This unique adaptation of technology has been very successful with a specific demographic group, according to Waters.

While corporations tend to emphasize data and analysis these days, it's important not to forget about how powerful instinct and intuition can be, Waters said.

“I urge you to not forget about the right side of the brain,” she said, adding that Post-It Notes and Starbucks would never have made it to market without the use of intuition.

Trends used to be easier to catch when everybody wanted the same thing, Waters said. Instead, consumers are now more interested in uniqueness. This is a trend that savvy marketers can take advantage of.

My Jones Soda, for example, is a small soda maker that allows consumers to order a case of soda featuring a label created from a photograph uploaded to My Jones Soda's Web site. M&M's offers customizable candy at shop.mms.com.

When looking for the next big trend, remember to keep things light, Waters said.

“Trend tracking is not a matter of life and death,” she said.

Trying too hard and taking the work too seriously often gets in the way of coming up with good ideas, she added.

Waters also urged marketers not to be afraid of embracing opposites. Often when a trend emerges, there will be another just-as-valid trend taking place at the other end of the spectrum, she said. For example, when the video game Xbox was quickly ringing up sales, board games were also very popular.

Chantal Todé covers catalog and retail news and BTB marketing for DM News and DM News.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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