For the book ‘How to Research Trends’ I’ve interviewed trend professionals around the globe to get insights into their ways of working. This blog features the highlights of my interview with Brazil based trend and consumer research expert Rodrigo dos Reis. If you want to know why he feels trend researchers should be like bloodhounds, read on!
Name: Rodrigo dos Reis
Location: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Job title: Founder of Zeitgeist, a cultural insights company
Trends are about cultural shifts
“Popular culture has always fascinated me, how subcultures, movies, music and fashion change. I find it interesting to speculate how these things will develop in the long run. I’m always thinking about how culture is going to change in the next couple of decades. How will people combine cultural references to create new ones? A cultural shift for example, from ownership to access, will last long and will affect many businesses and industries. I find these societal movements very interesting. Trend research to me is consumer focused research and a good way to combine these interests.”
Traditional research needs an upgrade
“I’ve worked as a researcher at agencies but got bored quickly because of the repetitive product and campaign tests I had to execute. I wanted to dive deeper into consumer drivers. Since I’ve always been a big picture thinker and not a details kind of person, I nowadays like to combine the best of all research methodologies out there instead of getting stuck on just one fixed way. Traditional research agencies tend to be risk averse and too strict about methodologies, that’s why they get stuck in the past instead of moving forward.”
Trend research as the upgrade
“We’re moving faster as a society and trend research is the only type of research that can keep pace with the times. You can learn a lot by listening to consumers via qualitative market research, but it’s not sufficient. You should get more context by executing trend research and additional desk research.”
Be a bloodhound!
“The ideal trend researcher to me is someone with a humanities background and an interest in arts, history, sociology, anthropology and journalism. At the same time this ideal researcher should be a bloodhound who smells the business opportunities that trend research uncovers. They should not be too academic but work in a lean and applied way. And also not too stuck with their noses in books. It’s your duty as a trend analyst to hit the road and be out on the streets, at parties, at stores, at exhibitions. Never just stay in the office.”
Pattern recognition is key
“To me the trend research process is about keeping yourself updated. I use tools like Feedly to keep the information stream coming in and Evernote to catalogue everything I spot. For me it’s an obsession to be updated all the time! You need to have a steady supply of information but even more important you should have the skills to connect all information to each other. In the end it is about pattern recognition.”
No evidence, no trend
“You can detect a trend through market manifestations, consumer quotes and quantitative or qualitative research data. Your trend research should always be evidence-based. If you do not have evidence, you don’t have a trend. You're like a lawyer when communicating your research insights, you have to prove your point. Especially with most corporate clients I always need quantitative data to back my trend analysis to convince them, such as demographic data or sector specific figures.”
Set an analysis timeframe
“When I analyse trends it can be hard to stop analysing. It can never be over, if you don’t want to. I use the Pareto principle of 20/80. Because of my experience I can feel it when I’ll not get a lot of return from further time spent in analysis. When doing desk research I like to give myself a time frame. It helps me to analyse in a quiet place at a quiet time. At night or in the early morning, when the telephone doesn't ring and I have no other distractions.”
Know your client’s limitations
“The goal of trend research is to give business new perspectives and almost force them to look beyond their own sector. To know the borders of my trend advice, I need to know the client's limitations. There are always political, financial, legal or time limitations. You should be aware of these in order for your trend recommendations to be as useful as possible.”
“I like to organise workshops with my clients because you collaborate and the ideas generated become everyone's ideas. In this way the client is really involved in creating the solutions. Just providing a presentation is often not enough to really create change within a business. Presentations and reports tend to end up in network folders or desk drawers.”
The future of the trend profession
“People who work with trends should work more together with people who are leading innovation processes. An integration of disciplines and methods is inevitable. Since a trend researcher is a bigger picture kind of person, they can lead this development. I also feel that we should take ourselves more seriously as professionals. There’s a lot of hype around our profession, which is bad for our business. It’s not taken as seriously as it should. That’s why I dislike terminology like ‘coolhunters’, it makes us sound like a silly bunch of hipsters who are looking for the new black or fads, while we are actually investigating the future of humanity!”
Want to know more about Rodrigo?
Take a look at his portfolio on his website and connect with him via LinkedIN and Twitter.