Coolhunters are dead
October 11, 2005
L.A. Times -- which pronounced death of "cool" back in August -- now performs the same service for "cool-hunting."
There was a time, way back in the late 1990s, when coolhunting was still cool, when nearly every Madison Avenue ad agency wanted a resident hipster to interpret the spending habits of those inscrutable Gen-Xers. Then the Internet exploded, connecting everyone to everything in an instant, and suddenly, the art of predicting the next big trend got way more complicated.
Today, fads ping across continents and disappear so quickly that the coolhunter, even the whole notion of "cool," has become passÃƒÂ©. Every big-city scenester or bored teenager on the planet has a blog or mass e-mail anointing the moment's hot restaurants, hobbies and handbags. Add to this, mass obsession with celebrity style and global corporatization and you can get nearly the same chai latte or straight-off-the-runway skirt in Columbus, Ohio, that's available in Manhattan or Milan. [LINK]So what happens to the army of cool-hunters? How will these Delphic oracles of our high-consumption culture finance their passe yet trendy lifestyle? Maybe a little re-branding is in order:
They're now social scientists with a hipster edge. That's because it's no longer enough to be aware of "sext messaging" or video blogs or the drive-in movie revival. The real money and prestige are now bestowed on those who can translate the cultural hieroglyphics and the "whys" behind these blips.
For this reason, they no longer answer to the name "coolhunter." Some even bristle at the term "trend forecaster." Instead, they prefer "planner," "researcher" or "futurist." They often compare their work to cultural anthropology, though few, if any, have formal training in that field. They're quick to differentiate the short-lived fads from decades-long trends. They usually stress that their predictions are rooted in hard data.Why change your job when you can just give it a (not) cool new name? Especially when the rest of us stilll need you to tell us what we really, really want ... to buy.