THE FIRST TO KNOW
The concept of ‘the first to know’ is the cultural energy that fuels innovation briefs and helps generate timely insights. It’s the art and science of ‘sniffing out’ in order to stay a step ahead of the consuming crowd. We are particularly interested in identifying small signs that are precursors of big change. We stay plugged in through primary research, combined with our own track record or actively shaping culture, not just observing it. We have even been credited for initiating some of the 'most impactful micro-trends shaping global (youth) culture'. The idea of ‘the first to know’ is that by separating fads (great for short to medium term communication and messaging strategies) from signs indicating disruptive ideas that challenge the status quo (required for innovation, especially breakthrough!), we can unlock the early adopter's market. This proposition has been developed over three decades, called 'cool cycle of reinvention'. It was first outlined in the critically acclaimed The First to Know book (2010) and further developed into an innovation diffusion model in its own right in The 2.5% book (2019). The films below illustrate the cool cycles. The second film (2007 - 2017) was work in progress, as the model was developed in real time. Now that it's complete, we'll be updating the film. It being a lifestyle more than a job, it’s a process that never stops. You can benefit from our first-hand connections with the notoriously difficult to reach fluid global network of Trailblazers who have inspired ‘the first to know’ concept by getting these types involved in your insight and innovation briefs. 'Consumers' recruited on spec, no matter how creative, simply cannot imagine the world that Trailblazers inhabit. To be a step ahead, you need to enlist the individuals that drive the new trends.
What is a Trailblazer?
In TFTK’s universe, a Trailblazer is the umbrella for all of the groupings under the category of “Innovator” (or the 2.5% of the population) that kick starts the innovation diffusion process and "Experts" (as a rule, not part of the 2.5% coterie). Innovators are a fluid, global network of non-conformists, where new ideas are formed and more importantly whose opinion matters. TFTK is connected to those networks and can help brands and businesses benefit from such connections via casting respondents for briefs from TFTK's Trailblazer Web.
What is the difference between ‘the first to know’ approach and cool hunting or trend-forecasting?
‘The first to know’ framework is predicated on curiosity, educated intuition and continuous learning. It’s not about trend forecasting or cool hunting. Rather, it’s our bespoke way of tracing the evolution of consumer culture from underground in crossover stages towards the mainstream. By combining lived experience based on insider knowledge of cutting-edge cultures, academic rigour and marketing agility, this framework provides a robust starting point to inspire future-proof ideas. The First to Know book and its companion, The 2.5% , introducing the-first-to-know innovation diffusion model, fully explain this.
What is The First to Know?
The First to Know is a book written by TFTK’s principal consultant, Dr Lida Hujić, where the foundation for 'the first to know' approach was laid. This book covers the 90s and 00s by comparative analysis. It demonstrates how the early adopter market is gradually formed in cycles of reinvention over a decade period. It is fully illustrated with case studies, tracing a trend from an embryo of a grassroots movement where an idea is born, in stages of its evolution, towards the corporate boardroom. Fads that are great for marketing communication are clearly separated from disruptive trends that lead to changes in mainstream consumption behaviour. Insider connections with trend-setters - and access to this desirable but difficult to reach universe for outsiders - inspired the story. The book is brought to life with films.
What is the-first-to-know innovation diffusion model?
Introduced in The 2.5% , it is a ground-breaking model for cool’s cyclical reinvention as well as a conceptual framework for a deeper understanding of the front-end innovation process. This model is a fresh view on Everett Rogers’ seminal innovations diffusion. Just like with Rogers’ innovations diffusion curve whereby new ideas associated with Innovators spread to the Early Adopter, who first buys into them, which in turn influences in stages other categories of adopters in the mainstream market, there are also different categories of Innovators, whose role is to spread these new ideas outwardly from their embryo, before they even reach the Early Adopter.
Who is influencing influencers?
The Innovators, the difficult to reach 2.5% , who are the hidden influencers that shape what Early Adopters are buying into… The Early Adopters are, in turn, the influencers that make Innovators' new ideas palatable to the mainstream market. Beware! A myth that (still!) persists in the marketing industry is that the youth market is synonymous with trend-setting, which is, in turn, synonymous with indicator of future behaviour. Just being young and looking trendy does not make someone a trend-setter. As a brand, ask yourself what you'd like to achieve. If you want to understand the youth market today, fine, we can pull some young 'trendies' from our network. If it's the future you're interested in, you want Trailblazers. It's their attitude and kudos that defines them, not demographic. (The First to Know explains this - The 2.5% further elaborates.)
What does this means when applied to briefs?
Knowledge is power – TFTK equips you with the best from the cutting-edge to give you the future-proof competitive edge.
If you'd like a little bit more information to help you consider how this might work for your Brand or Business, click here to get in touch.