The significance of the day’s excursion with Steven was bigger than either of us could ever have imagined. At about the half-way point in our drive the conversation transitioned from wine to work. We were both in Creative Marketing for Body & Home Care, and a large part of the role, not just for us, but for anyone in CMS, was to be responsible for tracking and reporting on trends. Trends in the business as well as trends that might have an impact on the business, and everyone on the team, in every corner of the Firmenich world, was collecting their own observations that may or may not get shared. It’s not that we were working in silos, but there just was no framework to spread the news and share the wealth. Following the A7 along the Rhône River, Steven and I began brainstorming the idea of creating a means of tracking the global movement of the trends that we were all paying attention to, while also considering a way to monitor their rise and fall. We imagined, and began planning, our own Billboard-like chart, where we could tabulate, rank, and publish the greatest hits of our identified and unified trend genres in order to provide the marketing and creation teams a single communication, as an inspirational tool and resource for global trends that are, or will, have an impact on the fragrance business.
In junior high, I remember being into unicorns. This was loooong before they became the billion dollar babies of Silicon Valley or a Starbucks Frappuccino, and they were still mythological creatures in the realm of fantasy. Once their popularity became all New-Agey, I moved on to penguins, because well, they were cooler, for one, and I bought a black t-shirt that said “the penguin is mightier than the swordfish,” in nice calligraphic white type, and I so loved the word play. After penguins, I got myself a pair of clip-on, rainbow suspenders, with a nice big “Disco Sucks” pin, but when Mork from Ork, played by Robin Williams on the new hit sitcom Mork & Mindy, began wearing a similar pair, they quickly became too copycat for my self-consciousness. Same thing happened in ’83, when I came home from a summer in the south of France with a gray, one-piece, flight suit, that I had begged my parents to lend me the money for, and a year later, I ended up looking like one of the original Ghostbusters. Never did I consider myself a trend-setter, ahead of the trends, or even trendy in any way. For that matter, trends weren’t even on my radar. In my new role, tracking the trends was to be as much a part of my responsibility as it would be to report on my findings in a creative way. What I didn't realize, was that if it was already a trend, I was too late.