Monday, January 03, 2005

Trends from Across the Pond

The Observer begins the new year with a list of 20 Big Ideas for 2005, including the elusive "car boot" sale, which might bode well in a county full of SUVs.

8 Consumer
The art of discovery
This year shopping will be about investing time and taste not just money, says Zoë Lazarus, leading-edge analyst at Ogilvy & Mather.

The shift in power from institutions to individuals has empowered people with a newfound confidence for discovery. The mainstream has caught on to the appeal of discovering the exclusive,hidden or hard to find. In an age where the internet has made information available to all, there is a far greater premium placed on insider information. It's all about exercising your individuality, taste and connections in pursuit of the most desirable products and experiences.

Expressions of the trend are appearing in all areas of popular culture: from secret stores like the Comme des Garçons guerrilla shops to the packing of foodstuffs - Waitrose now prints the details of the farm its produce was grown on. The element of discovery is also having an impact on the retail and leisure sectors - it is also a vital part of what motivates foreign travel. Being able to tell others about discovering a secret beach or hidden 'gem' of a hotel is one of the best things about independent travel. Once strictly 'down-market', car-boot sales, discount and thrift stores have emerged as the new retail hot spots. While anyone can buy the latest designer handbag not everyone has the time and resourcefulness to discover an exclusive vintage bargain.

The format has been appropriated by the contemporary art and fashion worlds, which have organised their own exclusive 'car-boot' sales in London's Hoxton or jumble sales at TopShop.

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