I have just returned from a quick trip to Toronto where I spoke at the Canadian Gift and Tableware Association conference. It was a terrific event that was quite well attended—about 275 people were in the audience for my talk and a day of events.
I had some really great questions after my presentation but one of them really stood out as a topic that I think people need to spend more time considering. I thought I would share that Q & A with you:
Q: With consumers wanting to personalize everything, doesn’t that leave trend in a meaningless role?
A: It may seem that way, but there is really more to it than that. Think about how women dress today. No one really buys their top, pants and jacket from the same group any more. Matching pieces are less important while layering colors, textures and fabrics—even patterns—from a variety of sources is both a trend-forward statement and a personal one.
In the same way, a certain fabric may be on-trend for home, but consumers will put that fabric together with others in a way that personalizes the room. That’s how trend and personalization can coexist; it’s not a choice of one or the other, both are valid.
I hadn’t been to Toronto in years so I had been looking forward to the conference for some time. It’s a quick trip from Minneapolis to Toronto. I left yesterday in the afternoon for a flight of just about two hours to Toronto. I was well prepared for the journey. I carried extra sample issues of The Trend Curve(tm) since we had expected 175 people until just a few days ago when a surprise 100 were added to the list. I had my presentation on both a CD-ROM and a USB jump drive. And I also had a letter from my client stating that I was uniquely qualified for the work I would do at the conference.
I always carry a letter like that in case I am stopped at Customs. I learned years ago when I was nearly turned back on my way to give a seminar on Prince Edward Island that Canada prefers that Canadians work there. If there are no qualified Canadians, then someone from outside the country can be hired.
I was, in fact, stopped by a Customs official on this week’s trip to Toronto and selected to be screened further by another agent. I had a very short yet exceedingly peculiar interrogation where I was asked:
– Had I ever been convicted of a felony?
– Had I ever spent time in prison?
– Had I ever been denied entry into any country?
The answers to all of these questions was no, although I did admit to receiving a speeding ticket three years ago. The agent stamped my passport, made a few quick notations on it, said thank you and handed it back to me.
It was only then that I told her that I had never before been asked such questions while coming or going from any country and I wondered why they were being asked of me now. Her reply: You checked the box that said you were coming here on business.
I always do check that box when I am traveling on business so why I should be asked those questions now remained a mystery to me. I made no further comment but went on my way with a greater understanding of how American business people have come to be perceived by our neighbors to the North.