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E-Marketing Performance Blog

The Merchants of Cool

So, what’s cool?

If you’ve ever wondered this, or wondered how department stores all come up with the same fashion trends every season, I can tell you this: you won’t find it with a magic eight ball or on a Milan runway. I can tell you this with authority because I watched an episode of Frontline (the PBS series) called The Merchants of Cool. For anyone marketing to teens, this is required viewing.

The Merchants of Cool delves deep into the world of “Cool Hunters,” those self-appointed part-anthropologist-part-marketing-types that hit the streets in search of the new and the weird and somehow sift through it until they determine what’s gonna stick. And what’s gonna hit big. Then they sell those tips and trends to the Fortune 500’s that don’t quite have their fingers on the pulse — but want to. Remember shower sandals? Before you saw them on manicured feet, embroidered with a polo horse, they were on the streets of Japan, adorning the appendages of punk rocker teeny-boppers. The cool hunters profiled throughout the program are responsible for dozens of these trends.

Before I go on to give away more of it, I’ll recommend you go check it out yourself at pbs.org. You can watch the entire program there. And I’ll leave you with this list… a view of what’s cool, hunted out by me.

Stripes… Out
Plaid… In

Webcams… Out
Time Lapses… In

Lemon… Out
Lime… In

Kung Fu… Out
Capoiera… In

Bobsled… Out
Luge… In

Reggae… Out
Disco… In

Trying to hawk your wares on a billboard… Out
Viral marketing… IN!

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