Helen Edwards, adjunct associate professor of marketing at London Business School, shares how to detect early-stage trends from the fringes and track them to the masses.
From being an early adopter of tattoos to tracking the rise of veganism, Helen has been at the forefront of trends, following them from the fringes to the masses. She recently published her new book From Marginal to Mainstream: Why Tomorrow’s Brand Growth Will Come from the Fringes – and How to Get There First, which explores strategies for identifying and capitalising on emerging themes and subcultures.
Tune in to this podcast episode hosted by WGSN CEO Carla Buzasi, who speaks to Helen about how to stay ahead of the curve and succeed in the ever-changing world of business.
From the fringe to masses
“When you start to look for marginal behaviours – and by that I mean behaviours that people choose to do, that less than 3% of the population are doing at the moment, that are not directly connected to politics or religion and not driven by consumption – what you see is that some, not all of these behaviours, suddenly become mainstream. And I was fascinated by this because that’s what happened with veganism.”
Mainstreaming subculture behaviours
“The punk thing was really interesting because we found that among the other things punks do, like wear or have a certain look, they tended to be vegans. But what happens is punks – they would bring veganism into their households and then it got more exposure. When you’ve got a subculture vector that’s bringing it into the mainstream, that is something to look out for.”
The Gen Z mindset
“I’m very taken by Gen Zers, who are a group that, for me, do stand apart on a set of shared values around openness, curiosity, acceptance. They’re not tribal. When we looked at behaviours, you could see their visceral response, but they’d say, ‘Well, obviously, nothings strange anymore. Anyone can do anything they want to and I wouldn’t judge.’ It’s almost like they took a beat and said, ‘It’s not OK to say that. I’m going to say something else.’”
– Helen Edwards, author, columnist, global consultant, adjunct professor of marketing