With the advent of technological innovations, internet and social media, the position of trends radically changed in our society. Whereas in the past trends slowly spread like oil slicks, the pace and quantity of information dissemination is nowadays increased to such an extent that in some cases we may speak of a noise full of (possible) trends. How can you get a grip on all that information to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff and to recognize trends?
Why do you have to curate trends?
Trendcuration is a process by which an overwhelming supply of information can be slowly and surely reduced and arranged, with the ultimate goal of retaining potential trends. By applying trend curation, you bring focus to that almost endless container of information and you can filter out disturbing, irrelevant information. Because of this you retain the relevant and valuable information for you, on the basis of which you can make decisions or gain insights. After all, you do not want to base your business strategy or culture on a short-lived craze or some random information, but on the basis of trends that actually represent value in your market.
In the first instance, it may sound a little contradictory for some entrepreneurs to apply trend curation, because in practice it means that a lot of information or possibilities are put in the bulky waste. Why is it so good to eventually dump large amounts of information?
A famous example is the entrepreneur who wants to sell his new jam. He offers six flavors in one point of sale, 24 in the other. Many entrepreneurs will assume that more options will result in you being able to reach a larger target group and therefore selling more. In practice, such an overwhelming offer leads to a much lower sales, because there is a question of choice overload. The result: with only six flavors, the entrepreneur sells four times as much jam. See also it research report from 2000 in which this paradox is confirmed experimentally. The American psychologist Barry Schwartz wrote the now famous book in 2004 The Paradox of Choice about this phenomenon; offering less information enables people to draw conclusions faster and better.
It all sounds good, curating it, but what does trend curation mean exactly and how does it work?
Curating is cured
Curatie - from the English 'to cure', heal - is based on the assumption that an initial information set is, by definition, mandated. Take all the information on Twitter - where an incredible number of people come together and share opinions (and therefore possible trends) - as an example. Such a 99% of all tweets that you see will not be relevant to you. But somewhere on Twitter, conversations are very likely to take place from which you could distill trends that would be of value to you.
Trendcuratie is a term that was used for the first time around 2010. One of the spiritual fathers of trend curation, Rohit Bhargava, is a marketing consultant from Washington. In 2011, he started by explaining annually a comprehensive list of trends from the past year, which he had built up through trend curation. He proceeded according to the so-called Haystack method.
How do you curate trends? The five steps of the Haystack method
The Haystack method (haystack method) is a process where you first focus on collecting as much potentially relevant information as possible (the haystack) and then using that information to define one or more trends (the needle in the haystack). This is done in five steps.
Step 1: Collect
This involves finding and storing as much relevant information as possible. It is important to realize that this is not an evening on Twitter, but that this process is completely mixed with your daily life. You store every interesting piece of information by bookmarking it or saving a copy of it on any device, as long as you can find it later. Look at as many sources as possible: magazines, social media, newspapers, television programs, books, conversations with customers or colleagues, and so on.
Step 2: Unite
In this phase you cluster all this information together into different main themes. Which topics are affected? Which general themes can you identify? This step only works if you have collected sufficient information in the first phase. Then think of at least a few hundred specific sources or pieces of information. Ideally, during the association phase, you take a few dozen themes out of it.
Step 3: Elevate
This is the most abstract but at the same time most crucial step. In this phase you raise your found themes to broader, overarching concepts. It is about finding connections between your themes and gaining insights about the topics that you have uncovered. This is a creative process that takes time. Rohit Bhargava seeks a quiet place for it and for some time shuts off his surroundings. After this phase you should have raised dozens of themes to a few broader concepts.
Step 4: Give name
A concept that you have in mind is not immediately written on paper in an understandable way. In this phase you give the concepts from the third phase that you have found a sharp, poetically responsible and at the same time understandable name or description. Sometimes such a name can also be a contraction of the themes that you have linked together to come to this concept at all.
Step 5: Validate
You think you have found trends. Before you shout it from the rooftops, the scientist awakens inside you and you start testing your findings. Talk about it with colleagues or friends. Check whether what you think you have identified is recognized by others. Do they understand what you are talking about or do you look at you as if you are talking nonsense? If your trends are right, you will also have to be able to find small, concrete examples of your large, overall trend everywhere around you. To speak in professional jargon, you will be able to identify microtrends that support the existence of the maxi trends found by you. Can you identify those micro trends? Try this for each of your finds. The hardest part is staying objective with regard to your own finds - be honest and delete them if they cannot be validated.
So you think you have found the needle in the haystack and your validation shows that you could be right. What now? What do you do with the found trends that are important to you? We will return to this in a subsequent blog.