The perks of being a trendwatcher

(Cecile Cremer)

Sometimes, studying for a profession which most people don't even know, will drive you crazy. Family and friends who know I'm studying to become a trendwatcher in the nearby future, mostly don't know what a trendwatcher really does. Sometimes they ask me my opinion about some shoes they have seen or they wish me luck with my art exams (?). To make trendwatching and everything that comes with it clear once and for all, my 'colleague trendwatcher' Cecile Cremer from Wandering the Future wrote a great post, which explains it all very clear. I decided to share it, since I experience the same 'problems' with people not understanding. So from now on, I expect you all to understand what trendwatching really is and please, please don't ask me about which color you should chose to dip dye your hair :p

"No, I don’t do “something” with fashion, I can’t even tell you which color you should wear next season and I sure as hell are not a fortune teller. I am a respectable future researcher, together with a bunch of more, and it is time someone tells the world; who we are, what we do and how we do it.
You might notice a bit of frustration in my words and to be honest I am a bit frustrated as well. After four years at university, working hard to become a reputable professional, it is getting old to always have to defend my profession even before I have preformed anything. After the hundredth umpteenth time hearing “something with fashion” and an insulting article to go with that, I feel the need to explain us “trendwatchers” and fight back.
I’ll start with saying that the name for our profession might be a bit confusing and does not cover up for its content. It says we “watch” trends but what we actually do is we “signalize” weak signals, changing attitudes and shifting developments in society that tell us things are changing in this world. These signals are notable things such as; concepts, services, hypes, consumer behavior, regulations etc. Shortly said, everything that fits into the well-known DESTEP method and is tangible. Moreover, we divide these changes into levels such as; society, consumer and market and also label them on impact such as; wild, emergent or established. We acknowledge it’s value and impact and therefore it is important to make this distinction.
But then we are still not there, because as we are not quacks, we like to substantiate our findings. First of all we make sure we have an overload of information on a specific change we signalized. That means a lot of “weak signals” end in the garbage, because one weak signal doesn’t make summer. After finding a “theme” we start background research such as; history, drivers, impact, origin, etc. 
And this does not only contain desk research, it is all about going out there; participatory observationsinterviewing techniques, networking and finding all the ins and outs. Because as said before a good trendwatcher does not base his findings on “maybe’s” or “I believe’s”. A decent trendwatcher does not even work fully on intuition, a good trendwatcher substantiates its findings with reliable sources, information and never ending research as it is an iterative process. It is only at the end of this analyzing process that we start think of adjudicating, of shaping a conclusion.
Finally most Trendwatchers have a second speciality such as creative strategist or Concept Developer, to transform all above information in to usable and tangible strategies, products or services that have a positive influence on the market and the consumer. But that is a whole new story which I will share another time.
One final request for all the quaks out there; “Please stop polluting our future thinking proffesion”. I would be totally fine with you guys calling yourself “Hypewatchers”, “Coolspectators, or whatever sprinkles your donut, but I’m asking you very friendly to let us do our work. Our work of giving consumers a voice to the ever-changing market and helping companies change their line of attack based on reliable conducted research instead of glass globe predictions of you guys.
As I can talk about this subject for days and as I like to discuss it as much as possible, feel free toget in touch and express your opinion regarding this topic."

Cecile Cremer - Wandering the Future

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