Trendwatching: Where to Read About the Next Big Thing First

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It’s hard keeping an eye out for the “next big thing,” especially when most of your job revolves around the current big thing and that every next wanna-be thing keeps calling itself “the next big thing,” and of course, it hardly ever is. So what’s a business person supposed to do when the landscape gets too cluttered? What every executive does: farm it out to the pros.

In this case, trend watchers and other forms of futurists. People who make it their jobs to understand the future-scape and which things or services will fulfill needs in that space. Your basic four-dimensional chess player, usually referred to as the cool nerds with fashion sense.

So here’s a rundown of your new favorite online trend watchers who are out there to make sure you know what to expect during the next quarter, the next year, and what happens when 4G turns into 5G - and what that even means, anyway.

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PSFK

This NYC-based “consultancy of the future” markets itself as the eyes and ears of where the world is headed and some insurance that your competition won't get to the future before you do. The site features an endless scroll of curated stories and videos that show where the future of everything is headed: Chicago 3-D prints map of entire city; digital overlay to kill remote controls; Honda tweeting customers back with original Vines.

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Cool Hunting

This global team of cool hunting editors has been around since 2003 so these guys have some well-placed trendwatching street cred. They are watching trends in design, tech, style, travel, culture and food & drink. With stories and reviews of a picture book that illustrates Jay-Z’s 99 problems (Problem #2 “Where Brooklyn at?”); lucite sculptures; the 2014 Jaguar F-Type; an app that keeps track of your dog’s business; or Seattle’s new marijuana farmers markets -- the most popular topics being 3-D printing, accessories, Apple and apps.

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Inside Facebook

The reason for Inside Facebook to exist is self-evident for anyone trying to gain a competitive edge using social media as a marketing platform. Not only does it host the Facebook Marketing Bible, but it also watches trends as they develop in the board room and on the fan pages, with stories on how FB execs are handling their FB stock; which kinds of FB posts drive monthly sales growth; and which is the fastest growing FB fan page in the US. Hint: it’s “Best Vines.”

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Trendwatching.com

You can’t know it if you don’t name it, and Trendwatching is great for putting a name to this thing that is starting to happen “out there” in the ether: sellsumers, demanding branding, point and know, Made for BRIC, etc. In its August trend briefing, Trendwatching breaks all these terms down: sellsumers are consumers who are getting a little extra value out of their purchased products, like car owners who rent their cars out online or chefs who sell home-cooked meals; demanding branding, which they call maturialism, is about brands that talk to their audience as if it is comprised of adults, like UNICEF’s campaign that Facebook “likes” don’t saves lives or Samoa Airlines, which charges passengers by the pound, er, kilo; point-and-know is the logical extension of point-and-click with the added layer of Google glass and who-knows-what-else; made for BRIC is the trend that signifies a reversal in the global marketplace away from emerging markets producing goods for America and Europe and towards the opposite of that: Malaysia-only Lamborghinis, Nigerian Monopoly, Absolut Mexico.

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Trendir

Curated by professional interior designer Lilian Pikus, Trendir is your one-stop shop for emerging trends in home design: exotic sectional sofas; luxury lounge chairs; and galvanized steel garden accessories from France.

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Trend Hunter

And last but by no means least… Trend Hunter's motto is "Find better ideas, faster" – and you will! Stop here for news on how to get cartoonish wing accessories for your sneakers; a Sponge Bob Square Pants-themed Toyota Highlander; chocolate-bacon cronuts; recycling robots; or the latest news on Benetton’s new ad campaign. For $1,788 per year, you can turn Trend Hunter into Trend Hunter Pro, or get their Trend Reports for only $960 (each). But even without coughing up thousands of dollars for the latest news in what’s hot and getting hotter, in tech, culture, design, eco and more, the free content on regular Trend Hunter is a regular must-read. (Full disclosure: Trend Hunter is also a Say Media content partner.)

Where do you spot trends? Let us know it in the comments.