Cool hunter, trend hunter, trend spotter, trend analyst, trend forecaster or futurist?

It can be very confusing.

“There is a lot of scepticism about trends. One problem is
that the word ‘trend’ is too close to the word ‘trendy’.
And ‘cool hunting’ is the ultimate toxic term. It suggests someone who just sits there waiting for someone cool to walk by… But studying trends is so much more than that. Analysing trends correctly can provide information on significant shifts in consumer behaviour. And there are countless examples of brands which have benefited hugely from that”.
P.T. Black, Jigsaw

Here we provide you with an overview of the different titles. The first two are about quantity and gathering as much information as possible. The next two are what we call trend sociology in the broadest sense, while the last is future studies. In any case, the three titles most frequently used are: trend sociologist, trend forecaster and futurist.

Cool hunter: The search for what is popular here and now plus what has not yet become popular, but has the potential to become so. Here there are often examples of different, bizarre and extreme products and services that can be “toned down” and made relevant to a broader audience in the short term. Also known as the study of “weak signals”. The term “trend hunter” also fits here.

Trend spotter: The discipline is broader and more profound than cool hunting. It is based on the study of different trend types, with varying length and effect and not least the way they affect society, groups and individuals. It borrows from cool hunting as it is also about spotting many trends and drawing qualitative conclusions from the quantities, but the time span is often longer than in cool hunting.

Trend analyst: Here the trends are spotted and analysed, with the aim of looking for and finding correlations. The relationships between the trends are clarified, explained and elaborated. Elements are also often coupled with the theory of trend types, trend groups, societal trends and other disciplines such as economics, history, etc.

Trend forecaster: After a thorough analysis, it is possible to come up with predictions for the future. Here methodology such as projections, forecasts, scenarios and wildcards come into play, but a trend forecaster usually does not look more than three to five years ahead, depending on the client and project at hand.

Futurist: Here predictions are used on a more abstract level and without specific directions or immediate recommendations. The time span is 5-20 years and predictions are mainly based on megatrends and societal shifts rather than actual trends spotted in current products and services.

A good trend sociologist can manoeuvre across these different disciplines, but is in no way able to embrace them all. There is a huge difference between being a cool hunter and a futurist.
We have written this book for those who want to master trend spotting, trend analysis and trend forecasting, and have summarized this in what this book calls trend sociology.

The three cornerstones

Trend sociologists base their work on three cornerstones: 1. Knowledge of the historical development – general social development, history, economics, politics, etc., but also the less tangible development of the spirit of the time, consumer behaviour, lifestyle and trends over time; 2. Understanding types of trends and the underlying process behind a trend’s development, including the sociological aspects associated with the proliferation of trends, trendsetters vs. trend consumers; as well as 3. Identification and analysis of new and relevant trends, so that they can be translated into strategy and specific products or services.