PR 101: How to harness trends as part of your strategy

In the PR and marketing industry, staying ahead of the curve is not just an advantage—it’s a necessity. For brands looking to elevate their visibility and awareness, trend forecasting emerges as a pivotal tool. It’s the art and science of predicting the future landscape of consumer interests, behaviours, and preferences. Let’s delve into how brands can effectively engage with trends to stay relevant and resonate with their target audience. 

Understanding Trend Forecasting 

Trend forecasting is the process of identifying patterns or shifts in consumer behaviour and capitalising on them before they become mainstream. It involves a blend of data analysis, cultural insights, and industry intuition to predict the direction in which markets are heading. 

The Mechanics of Trend Forecasting 

Trend forecasting is a complex process that involves collecting and analysing data from various sources to predict future trends. Here’s a simplified breakdown of how it works: 

  • Data Collection: Forecasters gather quantitative and qualitative data from a wide array of sources, including sales figures, market research, social media analytics, and cultural indicators. 
  • Pattern Recognition: Using this data, forecasters look for patterns and correlations that can signal emerging trends. This involves both statistical analysis and a degree of intuitive judgement. 
  • Projection: Based on the identified patterns, forecasters make educated predictions about how these trends will evolve. This can involve creating models and projections for short-term (micro) and long-term (macro) trends. 
  • Validation: The predictions are then tested against ongoing market developments to validate their accuracy. This step often involves a continuous feedback loop where forecasts are refined based on new data and insights. 

Tools and Resources for Trend Analysis 

Trend forecasting:

Companies like WGSN, Trend Bible, Coloro, Dulux and Pantone will provide you with up to date information on trends that are predicted to show up in the interior world over the next year, sometimes they can even predict further into the future. This will allow you to gather the insight you need to complete your photoshoots and get your products in line with the latest trends. Most of these trend forecasting services do charge a fair amount to receive all their new information, however, their social media channels always have enough inspiration to work with. Search on Instagram for the trend forecasting services and you will find a grid full of inspiration along with stories and highlights on their page. 

Google Analytics: 

A cornerstone for any digital marketer, Google Analytics offers a wealth of data on user behaviour, traffic sources, and content engagement. By setting up goals and monitoring conversions, brands can discern which trends are gaining traction and driving results. The platform’s ability to segment data provides a granular view of how different audiences interact with your content, allowing for precise trend analysis and forecasting. For instance, the “Year in Search” feature can reveal the top queries over the year, offering insights into consumer interests and behaviours. 

Pinterest Trends and Pinterest Predicts: 

Pinterest is not just a hub for inspiration but also a predictive tool. With its annual “Pinterest Predicts” report, the platform offers foresight into the trends that are poised to rise in popularity across various categories, including fashion, home decor, and lifestyle. By analysing the search and pinning patterns of its users, Pinterest can forecast what’s likely to trend in the coming months, providing invaluable information for brands looking to stay ahead of the curve. 

The Influence of Fashion Weeks: 

Fashion weeks and runway shows are not just high-profile events for the latest clothing lines; they are trendsetters that significantly influence the interiors, gifting, and lifestyle industries. The colours, patterns, and materials showcased by designers often find their way into home decor, giftware, and everyday products. For example, a particular shade highlighted during fashion week may soon be seen in interior design elements and lifestyle products, mirroring the journey of cerulean blue as depicted in “The Devil Wears Prada.” This trickle-down effect underscores the importance of staying attuned to the fashion industry’s pulse to predict and capitalise on trends that will resonate with consumers across various markets. 

Social Media Monitoring: 

Platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok can serve as real-time trend radars. By analysing popular hashtags, viral content, and influencer activities, brands can gauge emerging trends and consumer interests. 

Micro vs Macro Trends

In the realm of trend forecasting, it’s crucial to distinguish between micro and macro trends, as each plays a different role in shaping consumer behaviour and market dynamics. 

Micro Trends: These are the rapid, often fleeting shifts in consumer preferences that can emerge and fade within a single season or even shorter time frames. They are usually sparked by viral moments on social media, celebrity endorsements, or niche market innovations. Micro trends are akin to the fashion world’s equivalent of a summer fling—intense, captivating, but not always long-lasting. 

Macro Trends: On the other hand, macro trends are the broader, more enduring movements that reflect underlying shifts in consumer values, lifestyles, and societal norms. These trends evolve over multiple seasons, years, or even decades, and are harder to pinpoint because they develop gradually. They are influenced by global events, economic shifts, and deep-seated cultural changes. An example of a macro trend could be the increasing emphasis on sustainability and ethical production in consumer goods.