Coin Toss

Street Wise

It's cool not to be cool? Alternative reality is the genuine reality? If these observations confuse, confound or slightly alarm you, you're not hip to the young trendsetters of today. A possible literary remedy: Street Trends (HarperBusiness) by Janine Lopiano-Misdom and Joanne De Luca.

Founders of New York City-based market research firm Sputnik, Lopiano-Misdom and De Luca specialize in knowing what makes young people tick. Their approach--hitting the streets and speaking with kids on the cutting edge--has inspired the insights in Street Trends.

Not that there's one prevailing conclusion to be gleaned from Sputnik's analysis. Rather, Sputnik identifies a menagerie of youth cultures and mind-sets. The authors write of the "do-it-yourself" movement that's breeding individualistic kids who are expressing themselves creatively in zines and indie films and entering into unusual business alliances. Then, too, there are the "freestylers" who identify with underdogs and are turned off by marketing approaches that blatantly attempt to be cool.

Perhaps no other young generation is as tough to track as today's teens and twentysomethings--as confusing, confounding and alarming as that sounds. Given their collective buying power, however, the kids written up in Street Trends seem worth the extra effort.

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This article was originally published in the January 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Coin Toss.

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