12.–16.01.2025 #immcologne

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Trend scouting in the digital transformation

How to spot tomorrow’s trends today

Those who want to uncover new trends have to hunt for them. In the furniture industry, trade fairs are the go-to destination for trend scouts. But these events are increasingly being hosted virtually since the coronavirus outbreak. Digital and hybrid trade fair concepts have many advantages, and they will continue to be relevant in the future because of these benefits. What does this mean for trend scouting? What opportunities are still available? Or are new possibilities emerging?

Trend scouting is becoming increasingly digital


Trend scouting starts before the trade fair

A lot of time can pass before trends arrive in the form of new products at trade events. Trend scouting should therefore be seen as a long-term process that starts well before a visit to a trade fair. A diverse range of methods exist for collecting and analysing data, including surveys by market research institutes, digital analysis tools such as Google Trends, and congresses.

Not everyone has the means to undertake large-scale studies or the budget (or the time) for business trips to attend talks. The Internet also offers a host of possibilities for those who want to gather targeted information on social and industry-specific trends. They include online industry talks, newsletters, company blogs, social media and virtual showrooms. What are the advantages of these formats?

Online talks and virtual showrooms

  • Many talks are available online as videos, for example on YouTube, Vimeo or the websites of the companies or event organisers concerned. Don’t forget to check out the video description, too – it usually contains further links to the products presented or online references for the examples cited.
  • Growing numbers of furniture and kitchen manufacturers are creating virtual showrooms. On the companies’ websites, interested customers can click their way through digital rooms in which new products are presented. Product information can be accessed directly via links. Visitors can save inspiring design ideas by taking a screenshot.

Newsletters, blogs and social media

  • Like companies in many other sectors, furniture and kitchen manufacturers, industry associations and trade journals and platforms produce newsletters to keep their customers and partners up to date with their news. It’s worth subscribing! More and more companies also have their own blogs, where they present relevant issues and new home interior and furniture trends – such as the magazine by imm cologne . It’s an exciting read with important insights.
  • The popularity of social media is not limited to our personal lives. They are becoming increasingly important for companies as well. Image-based platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest are especially relevant to the furniture industry. Companies, trade magazines and interior design fans can look for inspiration on these platforms and share their own images. The photos are categorised with special hashtags. For instance, there are thousands of posts with #hometrends , #interiordesign and #discoverinteriorideas – they’re sure to have you hooked in no time. Follow our hashtag #immcologne to see the latest posts about the Interior Business Event.

Identifying trends outside the industry

Industry- or product-specific trends are not the only relevant new directions when scouting for trends. Many industry trends stem from social developments that gradually “spill over” into other sectors. Take sustainability, for instance: We are becoming increasingly aware of the finite nature of our resources and the proliferating mountains of waste. Like other sectors, the furniture industry is responding to the growing demand for environmentally friendly solutions , for example by offering cardboard furniture or furniture rentals .

Even the coronavirus itself has already had a profound impact on the furniture industry – and not just because trade fairs had to be cancelled and furniture showrooms had to close temporarily. In the age of social distancing and lockdowns, our homes are assuming a new significance. The result is new interior trends such as cocooning.

Filtering through and weighing up trends

Of course, not every new idea has the potential to become a trend. This is why it is so important to verify observations from one field with other sources. Is the new development merely a bubble? Or can the trend also be seen elsewhere? And is there actually the potential to develop a product or service in your own industry from it?

Trend scouts do not just spot new trends; they are trend detectives that investigate new developments, too. Weighing up, analysing and comparing are key elements of trend scouting, as is visiting trade shows. But with the introduction of digital formats, new considerations have to be taken into account here.

Recognizing trends at the furniture fair and on the Internet

Recognizing trends at the furniture fair and on the Internet

Trend scouting at hybrid trade fairs

Growing numbers of hybrid and virtual trade fairs have been hosted since autumn 2020. imm cologne is also adopting a new format: Exhibitors and visitors can attend the hybrid trade event in January 2021 in person or participate digitally. This has diverse benefits:

  • The numbers of participants are unlimited thanks to digital offerings.
  • Viewers across the world can follow industry talks, presentations and panel discussions on the digital platform immcologne @home – both in real time during the trade fair and after the event.
  • Additional content, such as information material, is available online anytime.
  • Retailers and visitors can make contact with each other via video or chat, and sales staff can offer video consultations .

It goes without saying that visitors can still attend the hybrid event in person. Speaking to exhibitors, wandering from stand to stand, and gathering inspiration from the latest trends – all this is still possible.

Let’s talk about trends

The digital transformation is changing many spheres of life – including the furniture industry. Social media, virtual showrooms and hybrid trade fairs offer a host of opportunities for discovering trends anytime, anywhere.

But despite all the digital formats, one-to-one conversations still have a key role to play in trend scouting because exchanging different impressions is the only way to create something genuinely new. And that’s why we are already looking forward to talking to you at imm cologne 2021 – at the event and virtually.

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