Have you ever heard of coolhunting? I had not either until I chose to study a course about it. I thought a degree in “coolhunting and advertising” sounded creative enough to satisfy my artistic hunger while also creating a link in my resume between my advertising background and my future in the world of fashion. Here I am, years later and that course has greatly helped me both personally and professionally. Coolhunting for advertising has been an essential tool to predict emerging movements and shifts within them, and therefore a great asset as a digital marketer.
What, who and why coolhunting
So, what is coolhunting? Simply put, it is the observations and predictions of changes accompanied by trend analysis created by marketers and advertisers to try to be ahead of the game.
If you think of it, having that kind of power in the universe of marketing, and moreover, in the world of digital marketing would be fantastic. You’d be able to know which service or product could be the next movement (so you could enter the market as a trendsetter or first seller) but also, which platform your potential buyers will use and how to reach them while continuing to promote better.
In essence, a mix of experts like creatives, ethnologists, sociologists and economists with a strong “creative intuition” are hyper aware of their surroundings and worldwide events. They look for innovation, sprouts or upsurges, scrutinizing with a magnifying glass what the small details are that will make the next great trend of tomorrow.
The importance of coolhunting is that there are businesses entirely dedicated to it, that sell coveted information to different industries. These businesses research the next tendencies, the next developments, and new ideas in order to sell them to interested brands (two to three years in advance). Granted, fashion and retail are the industries that benefit the most from coolhunting with worldwide renown businesses like WGSN, but coolhunting can actually be adapted to any type of industry.
How to become a coolhunter
The idea behind this is being able to develop and implement marketing strategies predicting what would be the best suited platform and time frame, or delivery for your product or service, or for your clients. This allows for a better plan of when to advertise, how to advertise and how to continually stay ahead of the game.
There are a few simple concepts to keep in mind to be able to superficially predict what could come next. For starters, there are different types of trends based on time frames in which you should catalogue your product or service:
- short term trends (between six and eight months)
- medium-term trends (called “foam trends” and lasting between two and three years)
- long term trends (lasting between five and ten years)
- flash trends (also called “express” lasting around three weeks).
A “limited edition” product would be catalogued as an express trend, whereas a haircut derivative of a sociological event would fall under the foam trend category.
Likewise, trends and inspirations tend to come back every ten, 25, 50 and 100 years roughly. We can see the roaring ‘20s in the interior design colour palettes and patterns rebirth inspired by the art deco era, as well as movies like the Great Gatsby; clothes that look like they have been teleported from the ‘70s groovy closets; and lastly for the ’80s and ‘90s we see the nostalgia product comebacks like the original Super Nintendo console, Polaroid cameras, and inspiration for TV shows like Stranger Things.
The cool journey
Knowing that the time from the conceptual idea to the actual finished product could take years. The best marketing strategy begins when you are able to influence a trend in your favour. If you can do so, your product will not be outdated but unseen. Thanks to a simple forecast, as modest as it might be, you will have added value. This is how you can use coolhunting to your advantage while planning, or to better advise your clients as advertisers.
In an era where the new consumerism (even more so due to the coronavirus crisis) is about how things are consumed, and not how much they are worth, you need to be able to sell better by anticipating the unforeseeable. As a modern coolhunter, therefore, you should not precisely be interested in understanding or cataloguing what “cool” is now. Instead, you should focus on documenting and analyzing what happens around you.in order to interpret your findings and present it to the client to inform them about their “needs” before they even materialize.