29 05 2008

My name is Kathleen Moriarty and I am a self-proclaimed trend sociologist. How did I acquire this title? Well, I am an avid people-watcher and am passionate about reading up on current trends in entertainment, fashion and marketing. Luckily for me, that’s what trend sociology is all about! It’s a new discipline (there isn’t even an entry in Wikipedia for it!) and offers unique insights into consumer culture.

Understanding how groups of people interact and affect each other is crucial to understanding how trends form and why they become mainstream. Trends affect consumers’ lives and companies’ plans, and this knowledge can be incredibly valuable when recommending PR strategies and initiatives to boost our clients’ image and business.

The first trend I’m going to highlight is one that’s on everyone’s radar and should come as no surprise: going green. Individuals and major corporations alike are identifying ways to reduce their impact on the environment. In fact, 37% of women pay more attention to a brand’s message if it is environmentally socially responsible. Recognizing the importance of the green trend, PR professionals are challenged to address how they can help their clients stand out in an environment saturated with green. It’s hard to compete with jackets that have built-in solar cells to charge the wearer’s iPod or cell phone, or a battery-powered three-seat car with a cabin that rotates 360 degrees! Concern for the environment is not going to disappear, yet in order for companies to be recognized for their green efforts they will need to push their creativity to the max and go above-and-beyond the competition.

Patagonia’s Footprint Chronicles is an interactive Web site that allows visitors to learn about the production process behind 10 of their products. I selected the Vitaliti Strappy Dress and learned that the dress travels 16,350 miles in the entire production process, producing 31 pounds of C02 emissions and generating 15 ounces of waste per dress. The company isn’t hiding that it creates waste by producing their products and even hosts a weblog where it posts consumers’ opinions and concerns. FYI, most consumers (like myself) eat this up. I respect Patagonia for being so honest and involving me, the consumer, in the company’s process. Patagonia provides a great model for other companies to follow in how to be honest, transparent and authentic in how they inform and inspire their consumers about their environmental initiatives.