Published March 26, 2009
memes , trends
Tags: inspiration, PR
We’ve created a lift blog: about as analog as you can get. These are a series of posters made to promote my department as well as provide some unexpected inspiration. They’re very ephemeral – staying up for one day only in each of the main lifts – but the feedback is phenomenal. Content is varied, but is linked to the market intelligence, consumer and social trends that we analyse and provide to our agencies. Sometimes the content is quirky and can be as unusual as today’s or this week’s big web meme, even if it’s just a picture.
I’m particularly pleased with today’s offering: a quick mock-up of the real BBC story about the ex-RBS chairman’s home being vandalised by a shadowy group angry at what is perceived as bankers’ greed juxtaposed by an apt quote from Fight Club.
Published November 17, 2008
books , trends
Tags: quotes, terry pratchett
People don’t like change. But make the change happen fast enough and you go from one type of normal to another.
– Terry Pratchett, Making Money
There’s one thing guaranteed to make a trends watcher happy, and that’s a daft correlation. Never mind hemline indexes and all that jazz, how about creating a chart that demonstrates that major society upheavals are somehow connected to trends in zombie movie production. Simply wonderful.
A couple of discussions on one of my favourite science podcasts, the Skeptics Guide to the Universe, reminded me of the importance of correlation when looking at quirky behavioural trends.
Take the example of a scientific statement that “global warming will cause a higher incidence of gallstones.”
This assumes that A causes D to happen. That statement was based upon the higher incidence of gallstones amongst people living in the Mediterranean where there’s a hot climate and a different diet, meaning a higher risk of dehydration, which in turn heightens the risk of people developing gallstones.
Assuming that global warming will mean more people will live in a climate similar to the Mediterranean means that gallstones are a real risk because A is likely to cause B or C (different diet / dehydration) to happen which leads to D.
I raise this because I greatly enjoy the simplistic cause-and-effect stories we see in the press about changing consumer behaviour due to the credit crunch.
The Hemline Index is one of my favourites, where correlations are drawn between length of skirts and economic cycles. They may not even be connected. It’s a bit like saying that because two totally unconnected events (e.g. lemming suicides and iPod sales) show similar characteristics on a graph, then one event affects the other.
The Hemline Index can only be connected to the economic cycle if research demonstrates that the events between are related (in this case, mood or cost of materials or other so far unidentified factors).
There’s an interesting article in Saturday’s Times newspaper which connects the rise in car boot sales to the credit crunch “as people clear out their unwanted possessions to make ends meet.” It’s a plausible argument, but too little time is given to other factors such as dissatisfaction with eBay, the motivation and reasons for buying at a car boot sale, as well as the finiteness of the supply (i.e. if you’ve cleaned out your garage and sold your junk, then what else are you going to sell?).
It’s all about having the facts.
There was a curious piece on the business section of BBC Breakfast this morning. Apparently the major factor in rising food costs is packaging, particularly plastics (derived from oil). Food packaging costs rose 30% over the last 6 months, but looking at the last 2 weeks, the rise was 13%!
This will affect the shape of manufactured food. Circular packaging means more wastage because of off-cuts and added energy needed to recycle. Therefore the answer is… square food.
So, never mind the hemline index as an indicator of hard times, watch out for the prevalence of square pizzas.