Why are Trends important and What is Trend Forecasting? To make your product more desirable, you need to be up to date with current trend themes and colors. If you know what colors and themes will be on trend, you can design in advance. No repainting to match what's on your site's front page. It's kind of like if you knew that Harvest Gold refrigerator would be out of fashion, you might have just bought the white one.
Those of us that sell on Art sites like Etsy or Artfire know that our sites will keep us up to date with the latest trends, but where do they get their information? There are so many resources you can use to get this information, unfortunately, many have very expensive memberships. But there is some free information you can get.
I might also add that many of the trends today are started by you. Yes you! The trend forecasters are now looking to art sites like Etsy and Big Cartel to see what colors and themes are popular. These colors and themes will then go into the general marketplace. One of the many disadvantages of selling online is that your ideas are very easily "borrowed".
Here are some great places to get information. The Trend Curve, is one of the most watched publications in the home furnishing industry. Michelle Lamb is either truly amazing, does her homework well, or as many in the industry suspect, a self prophesier. In other words, she is so popular that people believe her and create the trends that she predicts. Either way, she is a voice that is wise to listen too.
Where do color trends come from? There is another group called the Color Marketing Group. They are a team of hand approved professional Designers and Color specialists that work together to forecast color trends. Members are from industries like home furnishing, automotive, paint companies and even Pantone. They not only forecast what colors will be in fashion several years before they are even available, but also suggest those funky names for them.
And speaking of Pantone. You can get some color forecasts from them directly too. Look, there's a free color forecast for Spring 2012. There are TONS of Pantone products available, but here is a page of Trend Forecasts
Because much of trend information is for industry, it can be difficult to get your hands on at a reasonable price. Reading the trend forecasts on your selling site and others is a great way to get that information. Another great way is to have a membership in organizations that fit your category. Some have information and are more reasonable than industry groups. Many also have student or junior memberships, just check out their sites to make sure that they DO have the trend information you want.
IDS or Interior Design Society has great info and an annual affiliate membership at $175
IDSA or Industrial Designer Society of America is for Product designers, and has several levels of membership, but most annual profession fees are $375
American Craft Council does not have a wonderful site full of trend forecasts, but what they do have is a Membership that is $40 to $50, with library of resources, a wonderful Craft magazine (American Craft), great benefits and show resources.
There are just too many great associations for me to list especially with international and individual country. Just do as search of association in your industry and do a little trend forecast research.