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Coolhunting is a term coined in the early 1990s referring to a new breed of marketing professionals, called coolhunters. It is their job to make observations and predictions in changes of new or existing cultural trends. The word derives from the aesthetic of "cool".

In this they resemble the intuitive fashion magazine editors of the 1960s such as Nancy White (Harper's Bazaar 1958-1971). Coolhunters operate most notably in the world of street fashion and design, but their work also blurs into that of futurists such as Faith Popcorn. Many webloggers now serve as online coolhunters, in a variety of cultural and technological areas.

Pattern Recognition, a 2003 novel by William Gibson, features a coolhunter as its main character.


[edit] Coolhunting as a business

Coolhunters are found in many different places. The most popular are:

[edit] Coolhunting firms

A coolhunting firm is a marketing agency whose exclusive purpose is to conduct research of the youth demographic in the areas listed above. They then compile their data and produce reports detailing emerging and declining trends in youth culture as well as predictions for future trends. These reports are then sold to various companies whose products target the youth demographic. They also offer consulting services. Coolhunting firms often provide services for some of the largest corporations in the world.

[edit] In-house coolhunting

Rather than outsourcing their market research, some companies opt for in-house youth culture marketing divisions. These divisions act in much the same way as a coolhunting firm but the reports and data collected remain within the company and are used solely to promote its products. A company will often prefer this form of coolhunting as a way to gain an advantage in the valuable youth market since the research conducted by coolhunting firms is available to anyone willing to pay for it. A prime example of a company that employs in-house coolhunting is Viacom's MTV television network.

[edit] Open-source coolhunting

Coolhunting turned into a global online project when was launched in December 1998 to be the first open-source lifestyle trend database with rankings based on users' votes, uploads and comments. The global project was started by a Swiss research team led by Michael Hänni, creating a global virtual network of coolhunters. The concept of (democratization of trends: give free access to trends reports and base trend reports on inputs from all around the world) changed the former trend business field where reports, that are created by few individuals, are sold at high prices.

[edit] Methods and practices

Coolhunting is much more than simple market research because of the nature of the subjects. The teen and preteen market is often referred to as a "stubborn" demographic in that they do not respond well to blatant advertising and marketing campaigns targeted at them. Coolhunters therefore must be more stealthy in their methods of gathering information and data.

[edit] Focus groups

Focus groups, though quite obvious in their attempts at gathering information, are very popular among coolhunters as they provide direct insight into the thoughts and feelings of their target demographic. Coolhunters will typically gather a group of randomly selected individuals from their target demographic. While one or more market researchers interact with the group, they are often being monitored and recorded by a non-visible group, because not only do coolhunters want to hear what their subjects have to say, they also want to observe their simple mannerisms.

Depending on the nature of the study, the methods of the information-gathering during a focus group interview may be extremely broad, with questions relating to lifestyle and youth culture, or more specific, like comparing certain brands and determining which brands the group is most responsive to.

Participants in focus groups are usually rewarded for their participation, whether it be a cash amount, free products, or other rewards.

[edit] Undercover coolhunters

Coolhunters will often seek out individuals from within their target demographic who are regarded as leaders or trendsetters. They will then hire these individuals to be undercover coolhunters, who gather information secretly among their peers and report their findings back to their employers. This is a popular method of coolhunting as it provides insight into their target demographic within their natural environment.

[edit] Online coolhunting

There are a wide variety of methods for conducting market research online. Popular examples are online surveys where upon completion, the participant will usually receive a prize or monetary compensation. Other times coolhunters will enter chatrooms and webgroups posing as an individual within the target demographic and gather information.

[edit] Uncoolhunting

The concept of uncoolhunting appeared for the first time in the online magazine The UncoolHunter. The Uncoolhunting observes the things that do not appear in tourism brochures, rummages in: the retro (the rescue of what was famous some time ago), the trash (the margins of fashion culture), the bizarre and the bad taste (everything that can’t be digested by the consumer market, the eccentric or freak, the extravagant and/or pretentious, the expensive sold at a lower price, the cheap sold at a higher price, the experimental music, the ways of consuming of the non-consumer society, the surreal, the hyper real, the things that cannot be defined, the sub- professional, the sub-scientific, the underdeveloped, the incoherent, the illogical.

[edit] See also

[edit] Further reading

  • Peter A. Gloor and Scott M. Cooper (2007). Coolhunting: Chasing Down the Next Big Thing. AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn. ISBN 0814473865. 
  • Bernard Cova, Robert Kozinets, and Avi Shankar (2007). Consumer Tribes. Butterworth-Heinemann. pp. 137–139. ISBN 0750680245. 
  • Nick Southgate (2003-06-22). "Coolhunting with Aristotle" (PDF). Proceedings of the Market Research Society Conference 2003.  also printed as:
    • Nick Southgate. "Coolhunting with Aristotle". International Journal of Market Research Society 45 (2): 167–189. 
  • Russell W. Belk (2007). "You ought to be in pictures: Envisioning market research". in Naresh K. Malhotra. Review of Marketing Research. M.E. Sharpe. pp. 197–198. ISBN 9780765613066. 

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