A trend spotter is someone who specializes in identifying emerging trends. Many trend spotters work in the fashion industry, but they also work in computing, technology, and a variety of other fields. Employment in this field requires an extensive knowledge, along with training in psychology to understand how trends emerge and why certain trends get picked up, and others don't. Many major companies employ trend spotters to keep an eye on their industry, with the goal of staying ahead of the competition.
Trend spotters roam the streets of major cities looking for new trends which could be adapted by their parent companies. Cities like New York, Paris, and Tokyo are often hot spots for trend spotters, because these cities feature a very knowledgeable, educated population which often propels trends. Styles seen on the street in New York, for example, are often picked up in other American cities through a trickle-down effect.
When identifying new trends, a trend spotter has to determine whether or not the trends will remain fashionable for an extended period of time, and how successful those trends will be. Some tend to be limited geographically, rarely spreading beyond a small region, which would be unprofitable for manufacturers. Others have the potential to spread, especially if given a nudge.
Trend spotters consider the history of trends, many of which are cyclical, and send reports, photographs, and other material back to the companies which hire them. In the case of rapidly evolving trends, companies must be able to move into production quickly to capture the market, and major companies vie to be the first to come out with a product which caters to a new trend. As a general rule, the more companies producing something, the less desirable it becomes, so it is critical to be ahead of the curve, so that fashion-conscious individuals feel like they are buying at the cutting edge.
Trend spotting and trend forecasting are important in a variety of industries. Savvy trend spotters, for example, predicted many of the developments in the Web 2.0 movement, which focuses on user-generated content, and many of these individuals managed to turn a profit by generating products which targeted the Web 2.0 demographic. Trend spotting plays a role in the development of new clothing fashions, computer hardware, cars, architecture, art, and so forth.
To become a trend spotter, someone usually receives extensive education and training in the industry he or she is interested in working for. For example, a fashion trend spotter would go to college for a fashion degree, and work and study in the fashion industry. Many prospective trend-spotters also study business, economics, and psychology to bolster their employability as trend spotters. After receiving a thorough grounding in the mechanics and history of the industry, the trend spotter could start working in company departments which predicted trends, slowly working to the rank of an official trend spotter.