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THE TREND ISSUE

 


Dear Outsiders,

You ask questions and we listen. This week a reader query gets answered — and flows on from last week’s discussion about Ad Hoc approaches

Remember how planning less gives rise to greater flexibility? Now we address why responding to the now (Ad Hoc!) is more important than spending resources on ‘predicting’ the future.

– Jess


 


Outsider 134

Q&A: TRENDS

 

Dear Outsider,
 
You talk about how there is missed opportunity now for brands to connect with their audiences in real life, face-to-face. Everyone is too focused on social media – I get it and agree.

However, what is your advice towards brand communication on what we should be doing two years from now?
 
From Trend-Worried, USA.

 
______________


Dear Trend-Worried,
 
You’re not the first person to ask this and sure not to be the last. I don’t believe in trend forecasting. It wastes energy, time and resources that if applied to the NOW would have much greater effect.
 
If you pay attention to what is happening at present, you will quickly feel where you are going and what is required. You are creative (no matter if that is in your job title or not) and with attention can tune your intuition and skillset to be receptive to societal, cultural, and market-based happenings.
 
Whatever you do, do not outsource this process!

 

 

DO NOT OUTSOURCE CREATIVITY

 



'THE FUTURE' IS A BUSINESS

Trend forecasting has become a big business, and I urge you not to engage in it. Why?
 
  1. These businesses package cultural movements as concise packages that are sellable.
     
  2. Majority of what they sell is self-fulfilling. For example, fashion ‘forecaster’ WGSN has 50% market share – their customers by their reports as insurance that the clothes they make will be in step with the market.

    No wonder fashion trends happen so basic-ally. “Predictions” drive trend cycles. Creativity is removed and fast fashion creates what these reports say is fashionable.
     
  3. If you took the money you were willing to pay for predictions and used it to do something remarkable and sensible to RIGHT NOW – your brand would be in a much better place. Now and in the future. 
 
 

 “Nobody can really predict or forecast trends.

If forecasters can claim accuracy rates of up to 80%, it is because their predictions are self-driving”


WGSN co-founder Mark Worth
 
 

MAGIC AND DATA

Do you believe that there are beings gifted with the ability to predict trends? Zen-like individuals who future trends come to as if by osmosis? Obviously not.
 
The other alternative is data-driven. This and AI is starting to compete with ‘traditional’ trend forecasting. Collating data from retailers’ IT systems or using search data (Google has launched a ‘trendspotting’ division making reports based on this) is the latest product selling predictions. It is still in its infancy and the latest study found that the best predictive models get it wrong more than half the time.
 
Data analysis has driven the trend-forecasting business to become “more pedantic” and reductive of human behaviour to percentages. We’re not that simple.
 
 

HUMAN UNPREDICTABILITY
 

DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF VS. THE FUTURE LAB

Rushkoff talking to TFL Editorial Director, Tim Noakes.


Rushkoff: "Part of this I would argue is your fault.
Part of this is the futurists' fault.
 
The beauty of the digital age was that we were going to create the future.
 
The future became a topic. Not just a topic of conversation, but of creative potential. We saw the digital future, the digital Renaissance, as unbridled capacity of the collective human imagination to create any reality we wanted.
 
Then when Wall Street came into the digital future they wanted to know stock futures, they wanted Futurists not tell them what could be, but what will be. Because they want to bet on it. So then they're looking at ‘how do we reduce uncertainty and create the most predictable outcome?’ and it turns out the problem in the accuracy of future forecast is these pesky humans and all their novelty and unpredictability.
 
So we create algorithms that have no purpose other than to reduce human novelty.
 
To reduce that 20% of people who are not going to follow up with what the algorithm says – get that down to 10, get that down to five! Because human activity, human novel behaviour, that to the forecasters is noise.
 
That's what it is called, ‘noise’. And I'm arguing that the noise is the thing… That noise is what keeps us going.
 
Noise is where the new ideas come from.
Noise is where that weird liminal stuff that makes us human happens, so I want to bring up the noise!

That’s where human potential is."

 
RAISE THE NOISE
 
 
PROWeird . PROLiminal. PROAmbiguous.


BEWARE OUT THERE
 

Trend-forecast businesses
sell consumerism.
 
They are selling you the fear to keep up.

 

Don’t expose yourself to this. Keep your blinders on and listen to your business, your vision, your audience, and what these need now.
 

We cannot stress the importance of cultivating your own intuition. Walk around with your eyes open, headphones out. Talk to people and engage with the world around you. You will quickly see your senses deepen. You will connect dots and make analyses. Paths will become apparent before you.
 
Focus on the now and the rest will follow.


With love,

Agony Aunt Outsider.
yes@outsider.works
 
PS – Futurology is nothing new. Humans have always, and will always have an obsession with the future and controlling it. Don’t feel bad. It’s in our nature.
 
PPS – The good news is, the homogeneity forecasts sets the perfect stage for acts of radicalism to stand out!

Douglas Rushkoff told me; “The one good thing about this whole phenomenon is that it gives people like us the ability to influence the future however we want…” Yes yes yes!
>>> AGONY AUNT <<<
 



HAVE A QUESTION?

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Welcome to the exhibition of "Forecasted" Hilarity



"In the future clothing will become increasingly hi-tech"



 

Our Unique Methodology:
“We call it Cultural Triangulation, a three-pronged process of interrogation, observation and strategic intuition that enables you to use a quantitative, qualitative and expert-driven set of processes to analyse, interpret and frame all decisions about future risk within a brand, consumer and organisational context that is provable, practical and minimises uncertainty... blahblahblehblahblow " Lol.




The Youth Futures Report.
UNDERSTAND MILLENIALS! GEN Z! $$$
 

"Generation Z are showing up... with their activist and conscious attitudes towards each other and to the world at large...

Learning from the mistakes of Millennials, they are making more informed lifestyle choices.

This presentation focuses on the next generation of disruptors, premiering our latest youth macrotrend."
 



'PROPRIETARY TREND INTELLIGENCE: We give clients a glimpse of the future long before the rest of the world discovers it'



Do trend forecasters moonlight as horoscope writers?

DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY
 
Outsider is a counter-culture punch from inside the creative industry.

Promoting real life interaction. Pro-offline.


It came into being after watching client after client come seeking 'relevance' with 'millennials' and crying inside. Seeing misconceptions on the efficacy of social media rise. 

Named Outsider as, like Outsider Art, we observed that no/informal training cultivates greater instinct and disregard for 'rules' and established systems.

    
Jess is a pseudonym to keep the digital footprint of our real identity to zero.

Born 1991 but knowing better than old man CEO's.

Secret Access to past issues here.



 
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