April 26

Are you old enough to have owned a pet rock? I’m not either, but I’ve read about it. Apparently, the inventor came up with the idea when he grew tired of hearing his friends complain about their own pets. After chewing on the conversation, he realized that the perfect pet was a rock because it didn’t need anything from its owner! He pulled together the resources and launched the pet rock in 1975, selling over a million rocks and earning the equivalent of $27 million in today’s dollars.

By early 1976, the pet rock fad had faded. Imagine if someone paying attention to the market thought “Wow! Apparently there’s a huge market for inanimate pets! We need to launch one of our own!” They would have obviously missed the point entirely. The pet rock was a fad because it arrived at the perfect time, meeting a cultural moment. However, there’s a difference between a cultural moment and a trend. A trend is a series of cultural moments that point in a specific direction. Often, they begin in smaller pockets before going mainstream.

Pay attention to fads, but don’t chase them. Instead, scan the horizon for patterns of cultural moments that could signal a trend.

As a creative pro, ignore the fads but pay close attention to the trends.

Do you see any patterns in cultural moments that could signal creative opportunity?

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