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What's in a Trend?

For each of the past six years, FPI has conducted a survey, asking various folks to detail what trends they see happening within the industry.  It’s a short, opinion-based survey that asks six simple questions.  We send this off to our raw material suppliers, machinery suppliers, converters, distributors and operators.  We then compile and aggregate all the responses into a report that is then shared with our members. 

After compiling this year’s report, I started thinking.  Are people saying some of the same things year after year?  I went back and looked at each of FPI’s trends reports.  There are definitely some widely varying things said, but yes, indeed, we see re-occurring language from 2009 straight through to the 2014 report.  So what does this mean?

This is actually proof that we are indeed seeing trends and not just fads.  So, what’s the difference?  A fad is defined as “an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived and without basis in the object's qualities; a craze”.   Things like hula hoops and lava lamps are examples fads from days past.  They are here and then they are gone, like a limited time offer at your favorite QSR.  A trend is a longer term process that affects many people, changing the direction in which something is going.  A trend can take years to evolve, changing the style or tastes of people takes time.  So, when we compile our survey results and see more people mention the same types of things over and over again, these are the burgeoning momentum indicative of real trends and not just “flash in the pan” items. 

After I looked at all of this, my next question was:  when does a trend end?  I don’t mean so much the downward financial movement patterns that spike across graphs, but when is something no longer a trend and simply a part of business operations?  

We see the terms “sustainability” and “green packaging” splashed across each year of our trends reports.  These are still seen as trends, but the more we talk about the concepts with people, the more it becomes evident that the ideas behind words and phrases like sustainability and green packaging are simply a part of doing business.  Yes, leaving a lighter footprint on the earth is important, and becoming more so for individuals and companies worldwide, but it’s more than that.  The approach that so many are taking when looking at the way in which products are designed, manufactured, distributed and disposed of is not only holistic, but ingrained into the fabric of the business itself.

I think it will be interesting to watch the evolution.  To witness the moving of these trends from a year over year mentioning of words into something that is so intertwined that it requires no mentioning at all.  Like planes, trains and automobiles, these will just be the things that move us along the mainstream business highway.

P.s.  If you are an FPI member and you want a copy of this year’s report, drop me an email.

Posted By Natha Dempsey (Vice President) | 11/18/2014 12:23:28 PM