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Catch Trends in the Media to Find eBay Merchandise

Catching trends is all about listening and looking. You can find all kinds of inside information from newspapers, magazines, television, and of course, the Internet. Believe it or not, you can even find out what people are interested in these days by bribing a kid. Keep your eyes and ears open. When people say, "That GEICO gecko is everywhere," instead of nodding your head vacantly, start getting ideas.

On the web

Newspapers and websites are bombarded by press releases and inside information from companies the world over. Pay close attention to the various sections of the newspaper. Look for stories on celebrities and upcoming movies and see if any old fads are making a resurgence (you can sell items as "retro chic" — Lava Lamps, anyone?).

Trending sites on the web give you up-to-the-second information. Google, for example, has a couple. Take a look at Google's Top Charts for monthly trends and hot trends that update by the hour.

Read the stories about retail trade conventions, such as the New York Toy Fair or the Consumer Electronics show. New products are introduced and given the thumbs-up or -down by journalists. This way you can start to think about the direction your area of expertise is heading.

On television

No matter what you think of television, it has an enormous impact on which trends come and go and which ones stick. Why else would advertisers sink billions of dollars into TV commercials?

And look at the impact Oprah's Book Club had. Just one Oprah appearance for an author could turn a book into an overnight bestseller. More and more celebrities (even Homer Simpson, who's imaginary) are talking about eBay. The buzz brings people to the site.

Tune in to morning news shows and afternoon talk shows. See what's being featured in the programs. The producers of these shows are on top of pop culture and move fast to be the first to bring you the next big thing. Take what they feature and think of a marketing angle. If you don't, you can be sure somebody else will.

Catch up with youth culture . . .

. . . or at least keep good tabs on it. There seems to be no catching up with it, just as there's no way to say this without sounding over-the-hill: If you remember cranking up The Beatles, New Kids on the Block, or The Partridge Family (say what?) until your parents screamed, "Shut that awful noise off," you may be at that awkward time of life when you hardly see the appeal of what young people are doing or listening to.

But if you want tips for hot-selling items, tolerate the awful noise of today's music (how did that happen?) and listen to the kids around you. (Try to watch some popular YouTube videos, too.) Children, especially preteens and teens, may be the best trend-spotters on the planet. See what kind of marketing tips you get from your neighborhood hipster when you ask questions like these:

  • What's cool at the moment? Or "rad" if you want to sound cool — whoops, that was '80s-speak, wasn't it?

  • What's totally uncool that was cool two months ago? Their world moves at warp speed!

  • What music are you buying? Kanye West, Kelly Clarkson, Coldplay, and Black-Eyed Peas — yup, all those hot bands with big hits — but maybe ewww-that's-so-five-minutes-ago by the time you read this.

  • What could I buy you that would make you really happy? Hint: If the kid says, "a classic red BMW Z-5," or "liposuction," look for a younger kid. (Sorry, iPads are not a useful answer — because almost everyone already has one.)

Check out eBay

An important link on eBay goes to the Popular items. Visit this page and you can find an up-to-date snapshot of the most popular items by category. This is usually pretty eye-opening — you will be surprised at what is listed as a Top Product! Find the link in the eBay navigation links at the bottom of the eBay home page.

Check out magazines

Magazines geared to the 18–to–34 age group (and sometimes to younger teens — they call them tweens) can help you stay on top of what's hot. See what the big companies are pitching to this target audience and whether they're succeeding. If a celebrity's suddenly visible in every other headline or magazine, be on the lookout for merchandise relating to that person.

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