Sunday, October 09, 2005

Fads are so yesterday - Los Angeles Times
They travel the world; watch people shop, eat and frolic; videotape and photograph them; monitor blogs; study census data; chat online with tens of thousands of consumers (most under 35); and devour every shred of pop culture they can find. They believe their research not only keeps marketing executives at Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Nike and Microsoft, among others, attuned to our cravings, but they map the origins of choice and cultivate that most precious commodity of all: consumer insight.

It's an increasingly competitive field and even the most successful work hard to stand out. DeeDee Gordon and Sharon Lee of L.A.-based Look-Look Inc. specialize in youth culture and product development and brag that their 35,000-member database of trendsetters is among the largest of the competing firms. Jane Buckingham, president and founder of the Intelligence Group, is among the more visible of the top forecasters, with a show on the Style Network and a regular gig on "Good Morning America."

New York-based Irma Zandl of the Zandl Group is known for her bimonthly Hot Sheet, a trend-spotting guide that sells for $18,000 a year, and for predicting about 25 years ago the takeover of hip-hop culture. And Faith Popcorn, a bestselling author, has been in the business the longest, having started New York-based BrainReserve in 1974. Yet in each of the last two years, she says, her annual client billings have doubled.

All agree that their specialty lies in interpreting the broad societal movements that transcend our flash fancies and reveal new marketing opportunities. In the future, some insiders say, it's likely every ad exec will be a futurist.

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