I have a love hate relationship with 'trends'. Part of my job is knowing what's going on in culture of course, but it's also the job of every other planner out there. Of course, it's a shame that more than a few planners don't know this, but let's not go there.
Which means if you just 'replay' an insight or 'trend' back to your customers, you often find it's what others are doing too.
And to be honest, you can identify the kind of stuff most trend companies get by reading a few papers, watching lots of telly and generally consuming the same popular culture as whoever your customers are. Then just give that trend a silly name. Or even better, leave your desk and go out and meet them.
What tends to cut through isn't playing back how people feel, or highlighting a problem - what gets noticed is providing some sort of answer.
Another thing is that ebbs and flows in culture don't happen in isolation, they interweave and add up to something much bigger and meatier. It's looking for the intersections and overlaps that usually create something flesh, especially when you add another layer of entertainment culture.
Let's take this Coke Zero stuff (and it's my opinion, I obviously had nothing to with this)
The commercial problem - blokes reject Coke Zero because they thing the taste is inferior when it's actually pretty much the same
Unlike Diet Coke which is not only a different taste, it's for girls
Now here's the recipe
Throw in the fact that young men are getting increasingly body conscious
Add that they reject health an dieting as girly and too self obsessed for blokes that are not supposed to care how they look
Throw in a bit of men are looking for overtly macho themes to buy into to relieve their anxieties about the role of men in the world
Now sprinkle liberally with the fact that popular culture is dripping with knowing irony and comedy that's uncomfortable and cringeworthy, mostly because it's set in real life
Drizzle with the knowledge that young men struggle to come to terms with 'selling out to the men' and don't like to fit it with corporate culture
And you get......