FEATURE17 August 2023

Under the radar: Researching niche trends

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Behavioural science Features Impact Leisure & Arts Trends

Obscure trends and subcultures sometimes make the leap from the unknown to national consciousness. But how should brands interact with the niche? By Liam Kay-McClean.


Veganism is commonplace these days, a fixture on restaurant menus and in supermarket aisles, with companies fighting to bring out vegan versions of their most famous products.

But veganism was not always part of the mainstream. In November 1944, the word ‘vegan’ was coined by a group of six non-dairy vegetarians in a meeting called by Donald Watson. The movement started as a tiny subculture within the vegetarian movement, and eventually grew to the lifestyle seen across the world today.

There are numerous other examples of niche trends and subcultures hitting the big time, from punk to Pokémon, and much in between. But does the idea of a subculture resonate with a generation brought up in a digital world, where new communities and information are at our fingertips? And how should brands interact with new trends before they reach the general public?

Market research company The Nursery carried out a project to examine subcultures because of a relative lack of research, with much ...