Is your Trend source reliable ?

Supreet Raju
Supreet Raju
Is your Trend source reliable ?

Buyers expect you to be "on trend", releasing new collections that can resonate with consumers almost 2 years later. With advanced B2B cycles and long production periods, the pressure to discover new trends is high. But how do you check if your trend source is reliable?


In a bustling market, trends are a huge factor for buyer selections. They cannot keep restocking classics if they want to lure consumers - new designs mean more sales and more profits. The selection of these new designs is based on what the buyer is sensing will be the next big trend - the mood of the consumer not just today, but 3 seasons later.

This "sense" can come from a variety of sources - their inhouse trend teams who draw up moodboards, purchased forecasts from agencies, interactions with buyers and influencers, and you.

As a manufacturer, this is one of the most pivotal periods for your business to establish yourself as a trend-forward supplier. With the pandemic halting everyone in their tracks since March 2020, buyers don't have the same kind of trend information as before. They are now looking at you to tell them what's new, what can work, and what your trend research says.

Researching for trends, validating them and creating collections to woo the buyer - its a dream scenario for any manufacturer as it can upp them from being just a cost effective supplier into a professional design house. However, not every trend that turns up in your research will be reliable. You will run into unvalidated/fake trends and that could lead to a whole collection launch going waste.

So how do you find out if your Trend source is reliable ?
Here are 4 sources of Trends you run into when looking for new consumer trends. These sources can be good or bad depending on how you draw information from them, so let's break them down and see how you can use them correctly.

1. SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are visual libraries, offering a lot of inspiration for fashion and home alike. With the power lying directly in the hand of the user/consumer, social media posts are populating by the minute and there is no dearth of visual inspiration, free of cost.

IS IT RELIABLE ? NO.
Social media can be used by anyone to upload anything they wish to. There is no validation or research for a trend/moodboard posted by users. Professional forecasters pride themselves on visiting cities and discovering trends firsthand, but social media allows anyone to declare themselves an expert while sitting at home and "declare" a trend.

CAN IT BE MADE RELIABLE ?
Just like everything else on social media, take such trend alerts with a pinch of salt. Not everyone is an expert and you should be extremely careful before trusting an influencer blindly. If you are keen to discover trends from B2C sources, then social media is great - because it is consumer-backed at the end of the day. But we would suggest to follow only reliable experts, designers and forecast agencies, to get a more authentic sense of the trends.


2. TRADE SHOW REPORTS

Trade Shows are meccas for companies to come present their latest collections, new technology and materials, celebrate launches, and hobnob with the industry elite. At the end of each show, organizers release special reports which present the highlights of the fair, emerging trends and new ideas that could influence the industry.

IS IT RELIABLE ? NO.
A lot of people confuse trade show reports with trend reports. The core point to understand with Trade show reports is that it is talking of the past. The exhibition is over, buyers have discovered suppliers for the "it" trend mentioned, and those designs are already going into production. This is not a future forecast, it is an analysis of the current market offering.

CAN IT BE MADE RELIABLE ?
The only way to analyze Trade Show reports is from a macro trend view. Macro trends can last over seasons, and you may spot some emerging macro trends in these reports. For example, the growing leaning of buyers towards sustainability and eco-friendly materials. Don't look to follow the micro pattern trends - instead use it as a base to know what is done in the market, & what can you do next.


3. SUPPLIERS

In recent years, a lot of companies keep an eye on competitors and brand orders by exchanging notes with common suppliers. With multiple processes from fiber to product, not everything can be done in-house. Gap-fill businesses in the supply chain often discover new trends and materials in this production journey.

IS IT RELIABLE ? NO.
Getting trend information from suppliers can be extremely unreliable because it would very delayed information. By virtue of reaching the supplier, it is already established that the design is in production and that would make you 1-2 cycles behind trend. Supplier based information may be reliable to know what your competitor is doing, but it is not a good source for trends.

CAN IT BE MADE RELIABLE ?
Probably not. Using the backend supply chain to discover new trends for 3 seasons later is unlikely to yield results for you. The only point of interest in the supply chain is new fibers, fabrics and trims. New material explorations come under macro trends and will likely grow if cost-effective, so that's something to watch out for.


4. SINGLE AGENCY FORECASTS

Trend Agencies have been around since years, offering professional analysis for upcoming micro and macro trends. Specializing in particular segments, these costly forecasts tend to come almost 2 years prior to the season - giving companies ample time to start their design process, create samples and present to buyers.

IS IT RELIABLE ? NO.
A surprising No. Trend Forecasts are often considered to be the pinnacle of discovering new trends for the season. Companies shell hundreds of dollars to procure specialist forecasts from agencies like WGSN, Trend Bible, Promostyl etc. But everyone forgets one important aspect. At the end of the day, even the most professional forecast is only one opinion. It carries its own biases - personal opinion, likes and dislikes, country of origin, exposure of the forecasting team. Following a single forecast agency is like following one opinion, and that may not always be reliable.

Another reason for the unreliability - traditional forecasting was based on agencies spreading out and physically going into different markets to observe consumer trends. However, since March 2020, much of that has been impossible. Which means that the source of these agencies is now the same as yours - the internet.

CAN IT BE MADE RELIABLE ?
If you do want to source trends from agencies, we highly recommend following atleast 2 forecasts. Do not rely on one agency to always be accurate, and have the confidence to call out a trend you don't feel will work well for your consumer. Having multiple forecasts allows you to choose your trends, rather than conforming to the 4 presented to you. Pay for some, follow some on social media, download free reports on offer - but engage with different forecasters to get more validated trends.


Hunting for trends can seem like a daunting task, but we believe companies perform best when they know they are working with validated trends. That knowledge is so powerful in converting your samples into orders - which makes the effort worth it all.

Paid forecasts, influencers and reports do not necessarily translate into reliable trend information (Read : The Predictability of Heimtextil Trends). Don't expect money to do the legwork for you. Always do your own research into trends.

Use your knowledge of the market, your experience and expertise to differentiate between fake and real trends, spot the difference between an emerging and declining trend, and know how to keep your sources reliable. The effort will definitely pay off.


Want to learn more about trends ? Go check out our workshop video on How to Spot Trends. If you wish to discuss more about trends, email us at hello@texilist.com and we will set up a private session for you.



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