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Named one of the Top Five Futurists in the World by global publisher VNU, Marian Salzman is the author of over a dozen non-fiction books (several related to Trend Spotting). She’s the Chief Marketing Officer of JWT Worldwide and creator of TBWA International’s Department of the Future, headquartered in the Netherlands. She is regularly on CNBC Europe and well known for popularizing trendy words like ‘metrosexual’.
When asked about Trend Hunter, Marian told us, â€œTrend Hunter is where cool lives!â€
Marian Salzman’s latest contribution to the world of Trend Spotting is the book, ‘Next Now’. ‘Next Now’picks up where her previous book ‘Next,’ written a decade ago when trend spotting was cutting edge, left off.
Once you are done reading the interview, make sure to check out Marian Salzman’s Top 10 Predictions for 2007, which we featured earlier this year.
11 Questions With Marian Salzman
1. How did you get involved in trend spotting and what motivates you to continue?
Actually, I got into trend spotting completely by accident. I was conducting a focus group of teens at a school and happened upon a term (‘wigger’ used to describe white people who act black, first used in urban settings) that had not yet infiltrated mainstream America. I was talking about that word over dinner with a friend of mine, who happened to be a reporter at the Detroit News and Free Press. She used it in a story she was writing and sourced me. The next thing I knew, I was invited to be a guest on national talk shows to speak about it, and suddenly I was labeled a trend spotter. I’ve always been inquisitive and observant, so in most ways, it came naturally to me. Sometimes I wish I could go shopping and take care of all the things I need in my life, but I invariably end up eavesdropping on what other people are saying or buying!
2. In Next Now, you write about the evolution of trend spotting. What are your key insights?
Globalization impacts everything and is at the heart of almost every trend that is popping today. Specifically, we discuss in the book the fact that China and India are becoming superpowers and could overshadow the U.S. and Europe; Americans are becoming even more insular and ineffective in the brave new world; the New Normal in America puts equal emphasis on brand-new, authentic and tried-and-true; and relationships are being reinvented because we’re living at hyperspeed, and this means what’s satisfying today may not prove vital the day after tomorrow. Age blurring is one that I’m always thinking about. Another is the whole idea that we are starting to outsource ourselves. We’re looking for ways to get rid of all the chores we don’t value, but we put time into the chores we do value.
The book is about trends impacting the near future and the changes we’ll experience as we count down to 2010, and as we begin to experience a new world order that is a by-product of one-world thinking, constant functioning connectivity and the push and pull of the past, present and future.
3. How do you define a trend?
Fads may come and go, but trends are longer lasting and matter in ways that change societies and corporate fortunes. A faux-hawk haircut is a fad, but metrosexuality is a trend because it changes the way we think about what it means to be a ‘man’ and created a new forum for marketing to men, including products and services designed specifically for this target.
4. How do you define cool?
Cool used to be associated with youth, but with today’s blurring age lines, as well as our constantly evolving mindsets, the definition of cool changes year to year, month to month, day to day, minute to minute. For something to be considered cool, it has to have a certain cache in the moment. And of course, there will always be those few exceptions of eternal coolness, like James Dean or the little black dress.
5. Do you need a culture of innovation to create something that is cool?
Yes, but innovation doesn’t necessarily mean creating the next latest and greatest gadget that serves as a phone, mp3 player, BlackBerry, television, dishwasher and dog walker. Innovation can be as simple as taking a new approach to an old idea. Giving it a twist. Making it relevant for today. Adding a pop-top to a can of Campbell’s soup so a can opener is unnecessary is an example of a cool innovation.
6. What is the best way to create an infectious idea, product or service?
Great ideas, products or services can come from anywhere, even the “lunatic fringe” of society. Doesn?t it seem as if great ideas often come from the most surprising sources? However, even good ideas can become great if you make them relevant. It is the combination of the idea (or idea maker) and people’s acceptance of it that allows it to gain prominence and become noteworthy. I think buzz is a perfect example of how an idea can become infectious. If you can position something so that it is appealing to others, and make it buzzworthy, it takes on a life of its own.
7. You’ve written over a dozen books, which was your favorite to write, and why?
Please don’t ask me to choose a favorite! (laughs.)
8. Why should everyone read Next Now?
I think of ‘Next Now’ as a travelogue into the near future. One of the best things about the book is that there’s something for everyone. It’s separated into three main sections: world trends, cultural trends, and personal trends. And within those, we delve into a spectrum of events or shifts that are affecting all of us, whether it’s society, culture,
technology, globalization, and so on. It offers people a glimpse of where We’re all headed.
About Marian Salzman
9. How do you reset yourself to be creative?
I am a voracious consumer of pop culture, whether it’s books, magazines, art, blogs, Web sites, or serialized television. A key to being creative is to pay attention to what’s going on around you. Constant stimulation and being open to new ideas are musts.
10. Professionally, what do you want to be doing or studying in 10 years?
I’d probably be more accurate at predicting where the rest of the world will be in 10 years, rather than where I’ll be. (laughs.)
11. What are your most important hobbies?
I like to entertain—barbecues in the summer, cozy dinners in the winter. I have two golden retrievers that I adore and I love to read (I was obsessed with chick lit for awhile).