Trends Which Rise to Parody Will Fall

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Humans have the insatiable tendency to gather around new and exciting ideas.  This mass migration towards a product, idea or concept lights a fire under marketers and consumers alike – soon, everything follows the trend and it often leads to the point of ridicule. And at some tipping point, as many trends reach a literal parody of themselves, there is a tendency for the mainstream to turn their backs and seek out the next trend.

This year, we see two trends which have reached an absolute parody of themselves and may be earmarked for the decline. Pumpkin Spice (heralding from our beloved #PSL) and brunch (read more here). Both the pumpkin craze and brunch-goers evolved to the point of trend parody, but don’t be discouraged…there is hope.

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NAMES THAT ADD VALUE

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Names have amazing power.

As I prepared to hop in the shower this morning, I opened Spotify and started searching for a playlist. I noticed playlists such as, “Your favorite coffeehouse soundtracks,” “Have a great day!” and “Creativity boost.”  Then, sure enough, there was a playlist called “Songs to sing in the shower.”  Perfect, I thought. I hit play and enjoyed my morning shower, complete with tunes curated for that very moment.

It turned out that most of the songs could also have fit in the “Have a great day!” “Creativity boost” or a plethora of other playlists.  But, who cares?  The point is that this playlist satisfied my exact need; Spotify curated songs for this specific occasion. If I chose a more broadly focused playlist – maybe “Rock,” or even “Morning songs,” I wouldn’t have felt like the perfect match. The point is that many (if not most) products can do a range of functional jobs.  It’s up to branding to help you feel like the product is the absolute best one for you.  And sometimes, being smart about a name is an easy way to help a brand do this.

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BIG DATA CAN IMPROVE LIVES

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There is serious risk in the vast amount of data accessible to us at any moment. We find ourselves in the check-out line, scrolling through Facebook rather than striking up conversation with our neighbor. When we are stumped by a complex idea, we can turn to Wikipedia or Google to find existing opinions rather than spending the time constructing our own. Personalized ads, recommended friends, and catered news leaves little room for serendipity and exploration.

But in this sea of data, lies great potential. Potential to change the way we live, in small ways and in big. Think Nest, Uber, Waze - these increase efficiency, save resources, and make life just a little easier.  Within big data, we can track everything from human trafficking and terrorism to natural disasters and environmental shifts (i.e. Google Crisis Response, emergency room wait times, tracking air quality). Big data paired with human brain power has shown the potential to produce powerful solutions. There is a clear opportunity for brands to be part of creating these solutions.

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THINKING OUTSIDE THE BINARY

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Recently an ad for Dollar Shave Club (DSC) popped up in my Facebook newsfeed - “You don’t need a pink razor to get a Badass lady shave” it told me. Immediately, I was mentally transported to a moment I had at Target the week prior when I stood with an eye down each of the shave needs aisles (men’s and women’s) and wondered which path to take.  Did I feel more like a “Goddess” looking for my razor to “Embrace” me in a sea of pastel packaging and soft fonts? Or did I feel more like “Turbo” power in the form of sharp metal accents and aggressive shapes made for tough “Terrain”?  Both felt bizarrely cartoonish, pandering to extreme caricatures of masculine and feminine, neither of which fit most people’s gendered personas.

In its one sentence ad (and its even simpler ad which shows two of the exact same razors labeled His & Hers), DSC tells us that gender neutrality is okay, and is perhaps better in the sense that it clears away the fluff and creates space for discussions of quality and functionality.

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GAINING SOCIAL MOMENTUM

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Photo Credit Instagram: humzadeas

Termed as an "Outlaw Instagrammer," 17-year old Humza Deas is only one of many scaling the skyscrapers of Manhattan in the early hours of the morning in effort to capture the most improbable, dangerously exciting views of the city.

From the Manhattan Bridge to the top of Times Square, nothing is out-of-bounds for these thrill-seeking urban explorers. With over 55,000 followers, these pictures speak for themselves. Enticed by the mystery, inspired by the adventure, and envious of the courage, I found these images speaking to my own aspirations. So naturally, I followed Humza. I will likely never climb the Brooklyn Bridge (nor any Manhattan skyscrapers), but I found myself wanting to identify with his experiences, even if that means simply observing from afar.

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EVOLUTION OF THE SUPERMARKET

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Recently, we’ve seen many industries navigate away from the traditional business model towards a more modern consumer centric design (think Uber’s evolution of the taxi). The grocery business has followed suit.

Ever been to the grocery store hungry? The rotisserie chicken or salsa and chips were probably slightly more enticing than raw meat and uncooked produce. More often than not, people tend to shop craving a finished product rather than the raw components of a recipe. Take a look at how this company is learning from other disruptive service categories to adapt to the way consumers truly want to shop for groceries- digitally, with recipe derived grocery lists.

-Emily

SPEAKING TO DIFFERENT PARENTING PERSPECTIVES

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Brands have been speaking to parents’ fears, aspirations, and hopes for over a century. Consider brands like Johnson & Johnson, Gerber, or Oreo; whether it is affection, subsistence, or participation, respectively, each brand speaks directly to parents’ needs and desires. While many of these needs are universal across different parenting styles, considering different  cultural or personal parenting preferences may be in the best interest of brands.

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HOPING FOR A COLLABORATIVE FUTURE

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Think back to that time when you finally replaced all your home multi-media center remotes with one all-in-one… Get back to that moment of Zen calm felt when you looked at that coffee table (which used to have individual remotes for your TV, VCR, DVD, surround sound system, etc.) with just one single remote laid out. Pretty great, right? Well, our “internet of things” future is bringing us back to that horrible multi-remote world, just on our phones.

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IT’S ABOUT ACCESS

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For years, brands have been striving to help people get more value from the products they are purchasing. Today, people often turn to brands for access to something beyond the product itself. As marketers, thinkers, and innovators, it is often easy to think through the lens of “what will this product physically do for the consumer.” While that is no doubt an integral piece of the puzzle, the surest way to true brand admiration gives consumers something well beyond a set of product attributes. A good example is Hellman’s recent campaign in Brazil.  Hellman’s connects consumers with chefs for cooking advice on recipes incorporating Hellman’s mayo. Read more about here.

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THE SHIFTING SANDS BENEATH AMERICAN MIGRATION

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Whether it was seeking freedom or gold, the very foundation of our country lies upon migration. Until recent years, it was economic necessity that typically fueled migration. Today, things are different; we are seeing migration dictated by lifestyle choices in addition to economic factors. People are starting to consider everything from the cultural landscape and political leanings to the weather and interests when considering where to move. NPR explores this trend in the series of podcasts, "The Sorting of America," which takes a look at extreme examples of individuals moving to a new area based on lifestyle preferences and needs.

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