How to tackle trends

Tips and tricks from our Rise masterclass all about how to spot, track and work with trends...

At our latest Rise session in London, strategic insights director Laura Warby and senior consultant Berny McManus unravelled the tricky world of working with trends. While, for many, trends are still a bit of mystery (and sometimes difficult to justify the ROI), mapping and tracking cultural shifts is central to the work we do at Crowd.

Trends not only help us understand more about the brands and consumers we work with, but also where everything fits into the bigger picture – and, therefore, where opportunity and potential advantage may lie. Laura and Berny used the example of whether a premium beer could survive in its category, if the ever-changing concept of ‘premium’ wasn’t paid attention to? Chances are, it wouldn’t.

Similarly, in our culture of constant change, differentiating between a fad and actual societal progression has never been so important. Our presenters offered a stream of useful definitions and categorisation tips on how to spot meaningful shifts in consumer behaviour. Asserting that trends are far from ‘fluffy’, they also distinguished between residual, dominant and emerging expressions to refine things even further.

Three key macro trends were then highlighted and explored, taking into account their drivers and how they currently manifest within culture and brands, namely: digital decentralisation, radical benevolence and intense-inclusivity. The session then wrapped up with a set of tricks for working with trends; including a useful analytical framework and, once you’ve spotted a meaningful trend, tips on how best to track it and apply it within a business.

Thanks to all that attended and joined the conversation. We’ve wrapped up the key takeouts into a digital magazine, available to download here

 

City Limits

Introducing City Limits, a series of pieces from Crowd DNA exploring the global urban experience...

At Crowd DNA, cities are central to our work. Projects take us to many of them worldwide; briefs often seek to understand how people experience these complex spaces, or where the global commonalities of urban living give way to local nuance and unique challenges. It’s through cities that we find meaning. And, in a time where the global urban population is growing at around one million people each week, cities matter now more than ever.

Which takes us to Crowd DNA’s City Limits: a series of pieces in which we’ll explore these ever-growing hubs of humanity.

Join us as we take a view on the growing loneliness epidemic, how brands represent the urban experience, trends that are shaping the city of today and what our cities will look like by 2060.

From our city to yours, welcome to City Limits. Volume One is available to download here.

Watch the video trailer below:

Roll up to our next Rise session in London, where Crowd DNA's Laura Warby and Berny McManus will give a masterclass in how to work with trends…

Date: May 31

Time: 8.15am-9am

Location: Crowd DNA, 5 Lux Building, 2-4 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6NU

We all know that spotting and understanding trends is the key to staying ahead of the curve. But in this world of constant innovation, differentiating between a fleeting fad and meaningful cultural progression is actually pretty difficult. Knowing your micro from your macro, or your emergent from your dominant, has never been so important.

So what exactly is a trend, and at what point should brands take notice? 

In this session, we’ll unravel what trends are all about and explore some recent cultural shifts that brands need to pay attention to in 2018 and beyond. We’ll provide a guide on working with trends; including tips on how to future-proof strategies and build lasting connections with consumers.

If you’d like to join us for coffee, croissants and a ‘how to’ guide to working with trends, please contact Pauline Rault. And feel free to pass this invite on to colleagues too.

Watch the trailer below:

 

Here’s what went down at our Rise event all about modern families (where we welcomed our youngest ever Rise attendee, too!)…

At our latest Rise session in London, Crowd DNA’s managing director Dr Matilda Andersson and associate director Lucy Crotty (who also happen to be mums) spoke about modern parenthood in all its glory and grossness.

Starting bright and early (naturally, they’ve both got young kids), our presenters highlighted the need for family-centric brands, businesses and society to start taking note. With 90 percent of all new parents being millennials, what a family looks like – and what a ‘family’ even means – is fundamentally changing. And, despite some recent reworkings in popular culture, this pair of millennial mums still feel misrepresented.

But it’s not all bad. The key shifts shaping modern families reveal much to be celebrated: women’s empowerment, working mums and an appreciation of multifaceted female identity; the move away from ‘doofus dad’ to ‘involved dad’ and a focus on male roles in family life; and, crucially, the backlash against ‘perfect parenting’ towards a more diverse, realistic and relatable portrayal of parenthood.

The question, then, stands of how to speak properly to these shifting families. Matilda and Lucy offered loads of thought-starters on how brands can recognise opportunities with modern parents. By being representative, tapping into their sense of purpose, embracing creative play, or helping them carve out quality time via tech-convenience – just some of the ways to speak better to families of all shapes and sizes.

Thanks to all that attended, ate croissants and help distract a crying baby. We’ve wrapped up the key points and more hints for brands into a digital magazine, available to download here.

Crowd DNA’s Joey Zeelen looks at the sobering-up of Gen Z through his own experience of teen drinking...

Growing up in Holland in the noughties, my use of alcohol – or drugs, we’re talking Holland here – wasn’t any different to others my age. I started drinking at 15 and, like most millennials, alcohol was a big part of life. It formed my identity; it was the centre of socialising and the entirety of my teenage fun.

Saying that, it’s sometimes surprising to read about the sobering-up of Gen Z. Most explanations (health consciousness, well-being) fall flat when I think of the importance of alcohol during my own teen years. To understand this shift, I sought out some explanations on an internal level. When looking at my own drivers for teen drinking, Gen Z’s rejection of alcohol starts to make a lot more sense…

Identity

As a teen, alcohol shaped my sense of self and influenced the people I looked up to. Liam Gallagher, Kate Moss, music from Nirvana and gabber house – they were all inseparable from alcohol (and drugs). Now, icons like Lil Yachty and Adwoa Aboah promote a new culture of abstinence where it’s okay to say no. Intoxication is no longer a requirement of ‘cool’.

Discovery

A big driver for teen drinking was experimentation. Alcohol made me feel different, brave; it enabled me to do things I’d not dare otherwise. But is this still relevant? When talking to Gen Z, it always strikes me how open they are to subjects that were once alien or embarrassing to me (unless drunk). Perhaps alcohol isn’t needed for experimentation anymore, and they are simply more capable of discovering on their own, sober, terms. It’s no doubt, too, that the online space has become a better and more efficient vehicle for discovery.

Social Connection

While socialising played out in the pub/club in my teen years, social connections now form in different spaces: usually in isolation, on social media or at home. Similarly, online entertainment and platforms now provide young people with the stimuli and experiences that would have once been gained by going out drinking with friends.

Enjoyment

Long-story-short, I enjoyed alcohol because it enabled me to ‘let go’. Now, young people are so focused on results and prospects (not surprising when you look at the societal pressures they face), which must influence their ability to go wild or be unproductive the next day. On top of that, when they do party, they’re image conscious – why become embarrassingly drunk when it might be immortalised on social media?

But I doubt the desire to ‘let go’ has gone for Gen Z; it’s just taken on different forms. New indulgences now exist, which are better suited to their needs. We only have to look at the growing Xanax culture – linked to rappers like Lil Xan or Lil Peep – to see how, from a cultural stance, it makes sense. The effects of these drugs are less noticeable (or embarrassing), and offer a potential way of dealing with the pressures and anxieties of modern teenage-hood.

Secondary sources can help inform insights, but to really get to know young people and understand their drinking habits, we need to deep dive into their actual lives, needs and daily motivations, too. Sobering-up then makes a lot more sense through the eyes of a boozy millennial – cheers!

We get to work on lots of interesting and highly engaging projects at Crowd DNA, but collaborating with IKEA on the Clean Air brief was a particularly rewarding one...

With 80% of people who live in urban areas being exposed to air quality levels that exceed the World Health Organisation limit, this is a major topic. Unless action is taken now, the number of deaths will double by 2050 and will account for 12 every minute.

IKEA’s commitment to sustainability is widely recognised, with their ‘Better Everyday Life For The Many People’ maxim a major global talking point – which is where the clean air work fits in.

IKEA came to Crowd DNA requesting a comprehensive understanding of clean air (from awareness levels and misconceptions, to how it changes behaviour) in society around the world.

The first phase of the project looked to develop context and saw us producing a clean air report from extensive desk research and expert interviews – from leading toxicologists and start-ups CEOs on the front-line of air pollution innovation, to artists who are looking to creatively highlight the topic.

Stage two explored current consumer behaviours and attitudes related to clean air. We conducted mobile self-ethnography across the US, UK, China, Germany, Italy, Poland and India, using our understanding of behavioural science to better understanding true consumer behaviour in two key ways:

1. Mapping consumer behaviour/awareness over time to see if air pollution currently impacts how people live their lives

2. Providing our participants with air monitors to gauge personal air quality across their day to day lives, thus allowing us to see how increased awareness potentially disrupts behaviour.

Next, we visited each market to interview and film consumers in context, including reviewing their experiences with the air monitor devices and how much impact the data had on their actual lives. The filmed ethnography produced rich, narrative-led accounts of individual everyday experiences and how people really relate to the notion of clean air.

Embedding the findings in the IKEA business was a priority, too. We held collaborative innovation workshops to generate practical ideas for future product and service designs. IKEA have since used this insight and the ideas that came from these sessions to inform short and long term projects to tackle air pollution.

Alongside the workshops came an artworked and editorialised clean air survey, and a series of broadcast quality documentary films.

You can find out more about the Clean Air project here

Check out one of the films from the project below

We’ve packaged up our recent thinking around social media and agelessness into a new Crowd DNA culture report...

Following a talk earlier this year at the MRS Social Media Summit, we thought it worth extending some of our initial ideas around social media and its impact on a growing culture of agelessness.  

As traditional markers of adulthood are delayed; as people continue working way beyond retirement, and as the whole notion of ‘being a teenager’ continues to change, our distinct generational cohorts become blurred. It seems we can no longer pin particular behaviours to age, or even life stage.

In our latest Crowd DNA report, we explore this culture of agelessness and the impact that social media is having on its growth. We look at how and why it’s happening and the four biggest contributing factors from the online world.

To download a copy of ‘The Ageless World Of Social Media’ please click here.

 

Death Of The Teenager

Crowd DNA’s Andy Crysell asks whether the teen experience is in decline and, if so, what it means for self-identity and brands. To get a copy of our Death Of A Teenager cultural forecasting report, read on…

Hot on the heels of the widely reported scientific claims that adolescence now extends from 10 to 24, we thought it opportune to publish a revamped version of our Death Of A Teenager cultural forecasting report.

What would it mean to have never been a teenager, as we knew being a teenager? As grown-ups continue to avoid, er, growing up, and younger generations start connecting with culture – and even hitting puberty – at an earlier age, the previously well-defined ‘teenage years’ don’t make so much sense. A collective experience of ‘being a teenager’ seems to be coming to an end.

In this report we map out the driving forces behind this change and ask how it will impact self-identity formation. Also, given that the marketing communications industry has a habit (near obsession) with all things youth, we look at the relevance that this will no doubt have for brands.

For a copy of our shiny new report please email: DOTT@crowdDNA.com