What is Coolhunting?

Coolhunting is a valuable method of collecting visual data and if it’s integrated together with other systematic and concrete research activities, as proposed in the TrendsGymnasium training program, it can prove to be a very effective way of performing visual research on new trends and consumer habits.
Coolhunting consists of extensive observation of local phenomena (that can become global or vice versa), styles and attitudes. A Coolhunter needs to know how to document the way new or existing cultural trends will impact aesthetically the people living in a city or country, by collecting images and information from specific target demographics that they see these trendsetting qualities emanating from.
Triggered largely by personal interest rather than specific skills or qualifications, Coolhunting is one of the many appealing and bound-to-fashions research tools used to make predictions about future trends. In the past few years Coolhunting has given rise to various by-products. For example, fashion magazines searching for eccentric news and the latest trends, hire Coolhunters who can provide hot stories (and photos) by capturing spontaneous street style moments from everyday trendsetters. Another form of Coolhunting that is flourishing right now is blogging. Style blogs offer passionate Coolhunters an opportunity to present their trend findings and ideas to an online public audience and to receive feedback from the readers of their blog about their style thoughts and predictions.
For the Future Concept Lab the activity of Coolhunting consists mainly of gathering and recording information by taking photos and notes on how people dress, their consumption habits and new city/cultural venues, etc. They usually don’t interpret the impact of their findings on global and local levels. In the past few years, FCL has experimented with a systematic way of practising Coolhunting, offering its young Coolhunting researchers both training on ethnographic methodologies and a strong theoretical background.

Who is a Coolhunter?

are young creative people, usually freelancers, who gather information from the city they live and work in by providing photographic and written evaluations. They report about anything and everything that’s interesting (cool), and emerging as a new trend in their specific city.
Is a young professional, with academic training or work experience in fashion, design, architecture, communications, photography, journalism, web, etc…
Has good photography skills
Lives and works in the city under observation (not simply a visitor or a tourist)
Is very curious and up-to-date about the new local phenomenon, events and changes happening in the city
Is capable of searching for the unconventional signals emitted by the city, that is to say venues, shops, ideas and occasions that give evidence to the on-going transformation of people’s lives in the specific city
Has a creative sensibility that allows him/her to spot and describe the people and the life occasions from the city of observation. His/her intuitive talents become skills thanks to indications, feedback and briefs provided by Future Concept Lab.

What is Cultsearching?

Cultsearching is a research methodology that was launched world wide in 1999 by Future Concept Lab and differs from Coolhunting because it uses in-depth ethno-anthropological research techniques and results focus on different aspects of the market.
Cultsearchers distinguish themselves from the Coolhunters due to their ongoing research activity and experience from living in a specific territory, allowing them not only to observe trend phenomena, but also to contextualise and interpret their findings.
Coolhunting is not enough for a complete research study that can lead to innovative projects. People practising cultsearching are more experienced than Coolhunters, are creative professionals and young researchers who do not only gather information, but turn their findings regarding new products and entrepreneurial initiatives into sociological insights.
Future Concept Lab has developed its methodological techniques for practising Cultsearching, by integrating together a number of diverse research methodologies, such as semiotic studies, anthropology, ethnography, design research, and often spanning over the worlds of research, management and creativity.
The Cultsearching activity practised in TrendsGymnasium, through specific research briefs and suggestions, will help participants enrich the interpretation of their findings through experimentation and integration of different methodologies which will help in the identification of insights from specific markets.

Who is a Cultsearcher?

Cultsearchers are usually older and more experienced than the Coolhunters. They are young researchers who not only gather information, but have the expertise to know how to manage and differentiate between Microtrends and Macrotrends and provide an interpretation of their findings.
They more experienced and have more training compared to Coolhunters, and are therefore more effective at using methods to apply their research.
Cultsearchers search for material expressions of culture in their city, “cult” objects, venues and places, either well- established or emerging.
They observe trends that are being produced by the elite circles (avant-garde) in the city, and people or realities that are capable of influencing change through to their actions and projects.
They possess a BA or MA degree and are working professionals in the fields of design, fashion, architecture or journalism, etc.
Have the ability to filter and choose the data they collect, following specific criteria, thanks to their training and professional experience.
Are capable of design thinking, ready at any moment to capture the interesting signals of change emitted by their city and transform them into projects.
Is constantly up-to-date with Future Concept Lab’s research activity and techniques.

Why are they important?

Observing people’s everyday lives in order to understand the dynamics of a place and predict future trends in the global market has always been a mission of Future Concept Lab. This is triggered by the desire to explore material from different cultures and societies, going beyond pure academics.
Future Concept Lab started using Coolhunting in 1992 – one of the first institutes in the world – as an innovative alternative to existing market research methods. It was back then that FCL began hiring young professionals and researchers in different cities around the world, who would be able to be “highly sensitive antennas” and aid in understanding the on-going phenomena and change in a specific territory.
The Future Concept Lab now has 50 Coolhunters/Cultsearchers scattered in 40 different cities around the world. They constitute a network of highly sensitive antennas gathering, deciphering and reporting on the trends emitted by the observed cities. Their reporting includes a variety of information such as, new products, photos of people, shops, relevant trends from various sectors and different or new target demographics. Our Coolhunters provide us with a constant monitoring of city trends, new venues and people’s daily lives. The international network of correspondents, is set up of young professionals who carry out Coolhunting and Cultsearching research activities, and it has proved to be an increasingly necessary and useful form of integrating traditional research methods with, stronger visual data, interpretative hypothesis and creative thinking.
Last modified: Monday, 13 April 2015, 11:04 AM