Genesis of a trend

Genesis of a trend

I recently read an article in the Spanish newspaper El País entitled: “The life and death of a trend”, which inspired me to write this column.

As many of you know, I quite enjoy writing about trends. We can find inspiration from many sources and sectors, such as food, fashion, cosmetics, technology, science, wine, medicine, research, entertainment… It is exciting when we start to discover trends and specially to project them in the cosmetics industry.

How do big companies and indie and niche brands create consistently successful products? How do they develop products, applications and services that no one thought would work? The answer lies in knowing how to read market trends to generate opportunities around them.

How can we define a trend? A trend is a social inclination towards a topic, behavior or product. A trend identifies upcoming social, cultural, environmental, aesthetic and other changes that influence society’s behaviour.

Yves Saint Laurent said many years ago that: “Trends disappear, style is eternal”… The reality is that trends are born, grow, reproduce and die. To describe this process, it is necessary to understand the genesis of trends. In general, we can describe it as follows:

Megatrends → Macrotrends → Microtrends → Mode

In the following, we will look at the definitions of each of these stages:

Pyramid of Trends

Megatrends: These are far-reaching, long-term changes that have a significant impact on multiple aspects of society, the economy and technology. These trends typically last a decade or more and have a global influence. Megatrends are based on fundamental changes in areas such as demographics, technology, environment, economics and politics. Examples of megatrends include rapid urbanization, population ageing, digitalization, sustainability and globalization.

Macro-trends: These are long-term changes that affect an industry, a specific sector or a geographic region. Unlike megatrends, macrotrends are more specific and focus on narrower areas. These trends may emerge as a result of megatrends, but their impact is observed on a smaller scale. For example, a macro-trend in the fashion industry could be the rise in demand for sustainable and ethical fashion. These can last for several years.

Microtrends: Micro-trends are short-term, smaller-scale changes occurring within a specific industry, market or community. These trends usually last for a shorter period of time and may be driven by changes in consumer tastes, preferences or behaviors. An example of a micro-trend might be the sudden popularity of a new mobile application. They are short-term or more limited in duration.

Mode: We have seen that a trend is created when a novelty begins to be adopted by a considerable group of consumers, which generates in the rest of the population the feeling that this trend must be adopted, then the trend becomes in mode when the large part of the population standardizes it.

The article in El País states that: “A trend dies when it ceases to be novel and becomes ubiquitous, when it ceases to be used by a minority of trendsetters and is adopted by the vast majority”. A trend is a fact of recent appearance, known to all and has a good reputation for a short period of time.

We can see the genesis of trends in one example. The megatrend is globalization. The macro-trend is the Asian influence on Western culture. The micro trend is the popularization of Asian food in American countries. The mode is sushi.

In cosmetics, we can say that, after a technological innovation or a novelty in consumer behavior, a trend can be born. Trend is the prelude to fashion. The trend is consolidated when a segment of the population adopts it massively, generating in consumers the feeling that this trend must be adopted.

Evolution and death of a trend

In summary, megatrends are the broadest and most enduring changes that affect the global level, macrotrends focus on more specific areas, and microtrends are short-term, smaller-scale changes in an industry or community. Each of these categories is used to understand and analyze different levels of change and trends in different contexts.

How can we predict trends? This can be challenging, as it involves anticipating changes in consumer tastes, preferences and behaviors. Here are some strategies we can follow to predict them:

  • In-depth research: Conduct in-depth research on the area or industry of interest. Examine demographic data, market research, industry reports, analysis of past trends, scientific and technological developments and any other relevant sources. Understanding the current context and driving forces will help identify possible future directions.
  • Observing cultural and social changes: Observing social media conversations, emerging cultural movements, changes in values and consumer demands. These factors can provide clues to the directions in which trends are moving.
  • Megatrend analysis: Examine megatrends that are in play, such as technology, sustainability, urbanization, demographics, among others. These broad trends can provide clues to areas where more specific trends might emerge.
  • Observing innovations and disruptors: Pay attention to innovations and disruptive companies that are emerging in the market. Technological advances, new ways of doing business and creative solutions can indicate emerging trends.
  • Tracking opinion leaders and industry experts: Keeping track of what opinion leaders and experts in the area of interest are saying is important because they may have unique information and perspectives on future trends.
  • Data and pattern analysis: Use data analysis tools to examine past patterns and trends. This can be useful to identify early signals and recurring patterns that may indicate future trends.
  • Creative thinking and strategic vision: With all the collected information, we can connect the dots and formulate possible future scenarios. It is important to keep in mind that trend forecasting involves a certain degree of uncertainty, as the future is always unknown.

The world of trends is exciting and we can find inspiration in phrases from famous designers. Christian Dior said: “By being natural and sincere, one can create revolutions without having sought them out. John Galliano said: “Style is wearing an evening dress to McDonald’s and heels to football. It’s personality, confidence and seduction”…

The cosmetics industry is one of the fastest adopters, trendsetters and innovators. The challenge is for us to identify trends in time to surprise consumers. The signs are there, speaking to us. Just as some trends are born and die, the strongest trends can go in cycles and reinvent themselves after a number of generations. As actors in the beauty industry, we must know how to anticipate and put a differential touch to our creations.

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John Jiménez is a pharmacist from National University of Colombia with a master's in sustainable development and specialization studies in marketing, cosmetic science and neuromarketing. He has 30 publications in scientific journals and a book chapter in cosmetic formulation. He has been the recipient of the Maison G. de Navarre Prize (IFSCC USA 2004), Henry Maso Award (IFSCC USA 2016) and best scientific papers at Colamiqc Ecuador 2009, Colamiqc Brazil 2013 and Farmacosmética Colombia 2014. He also has been a speaker at various international conferences in Europe and Latin America. Since 2019, he has written a trends column for In-Cosmetics connect, Since 2013 a trends column for Cosmetics & Toiletries Brazil and since 2020, a column on neuromarketing for Eurocosmetics. He also has authored and co-authored articles and served on the Scientific Advisory Board for Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine. Jiménez additionally served as president of Accytec Bogotá (2017-2019). He joined Belcorp in 2005 and currently is Senior Researcher for skin care, suncare and personal care categories. Before joining Belcorp, he worked in Laboratorios Esko, Whitehall AH Robins and Fresenius Medical Care in Colombia.

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