I am fascinated by our industry's pursuit and obsession with trends. The types who go into marketing tend to like to think they are always in the know and up on the latest trends. Inherent in the notion of being up on trends is the scarcity of access or knowledge to what the trends are. And depending on who you are your definition of what a trend is varies dramatically, but that's a whole other topic.
But is there any scarcity in "trend" hunting anymore? Even if you aren't on Twitter, Facebook and avoid blogs everyone seemingly subscribes to Tend Watching and the same trend reports - or are certain to have someone send a cut and paste at least a few times per year. Tublr itself is essentially tens or hundreds of thousands of individualized trend reports.
Now Google can update you on trends in a near real time basis through Google Trends.
As a parallel the financial markets used revel in arbitrage - knowing a little bit more on a company than someone else or seeing an inconsistency in price between two markets. Inconsistencies are discovered in milliseconds and special info is of great interest to the SEC and folks with handcuffs.
A trend itself is fools good. A lazy latch on. The real gold is in understanding why trends exist in the first place. Look at them as symptoms not the end/beginning.
At a meta level our tend obsession demonstrates our unchanging desire to express individuality - which as unchanging is done through rather conformists means. Even the non-conformists have a uniform.
The one certainty when looking at trends is the fragmentation of cool. Call it tribes, communities or whatever. Basically there are more ways to fit in than ever. This also means the barrier to creating a new way to fit in or participate in a movement has never been lower. Smart brands, as they have always known, can start a movement by doing something interesting or profound.
Why follow a trend when you can create one?