What is a trend? Scientifically speaking, a trend means „a general direction in which something is developing or changing.“ But trend is not equal with trend.
When Elvis Presley died, there were around 100 Elvis imitators. People who’d dress like Elvis, cut and blow their hair like Elvis, and sang Elvis songs with his characteristic voice. After Elvis death on August 16th, 1977, the number of Elvis imitators skyrocketed.
Looking at the growth of numbers of Elvis imitators between 1977 and 1982, you could only conclude that by 2000 a third of all Americans will be earning money by being professional Elvis imitators.
That of course did not happen, and everyone with a bit of common sense could tell you that this is not going to happen.
Although itwas a trend, it had its own characteristics that allowed us to predict that it will pass. We are distinguishing between two large trend types: soft and hard trends.
Soft trends, as the example with the Elvis imitators demonstrated, are based on assumptions that seem to be palpable and predictable, but they are not necessarily materializing.
A hard trend on the other hand is a projection into the future that is based on measurable, palpable, and predictable facts, events, or things.
A soft trend can happen, it’s a future maybe. A hard trend will happen, it’s a future fact. You can rely on latter one going to happen.
This distinction between soft and hard trends will make it easier for us to understand what future is certain and what it will maybe bring. Our mistrust to trends and predictions is often based on our inability to distinguish between soft and hard trends. We don’t know the criteria, haven’t had the tools to separate the chaff from the wheat. But that is changing and we gain more certainty in our forecasts and trend monitoring. The future becomes visible and palpable.
While hard trends cannot be influence, soft trends can be influenced. I can’t change my age and my aging. The trend of aging is a hard one. As much as I want the opposite, I am aging. But I do have under control what my health looks like, at least to some degree. I can eat healthy, do sports, and stay away from alcohol, tobacco, too much fatty food, drugs and the likes. While I may have some genetic predispositions to higher risks of strokes or Alzheimer, my well-being and pushing the risks out is under my influence.
This article has also been published in German.