Based on an analysis of more than half a million public posts on message boards, blogs, social media sites and news sources, IBM predicts that “steampunk”, a sub-genre inspired by the clothing, technology and social mores of Victorian society, will be a major trend to bubble up, and take hold, of the retail industry.

Major fashion labels, accessories providers and jewellery makers are expected to integrate a steampunk aesthetic into their designs in the coming year.
Measuring public sentiment can help retail chief marketing officers customise incentives and services to be more in tune with what customers are asking for, using data to tailor their offerings to address fast-moving trends and realtime customer needs.
Through its sentiment analysis, IBM has found that steampunk is evolving into a cultural “meme” via a series of leaps across cultural domains (such as fiction and visual arts).
A combination of science fiction and fantasy, steampunk is a sub-genre based around gothic machinery and the industrialised civilisation of the 19th century.
Rooted in the designs of the industrialised civilisation of the 19th century, steampunk is a retro-futuristic style of fashion that is influenced by the works of Jules Verne, Nikola Tesla, HG Wells and more.
Using advanced analytics, IBM has been able to track the spread of trends geographically, chronologically and now, culturally. From 2009 to 2012, the amount of steampunk chatter has increased eleven-fold.
Since 2010, more than two dozen US department stores and specialty retailers have become steampunk savvy. During the next two years, IBM predicts that steampunk will shift from low production, high cost “craft” manufacturing to mass production.
IBM’s Birth of a Trend project is a unique effort dedicated to understanding the science behind predicting online trends that can revolutionise an industry. By studying how online trends spread globally, IBM provides deep insights into whether what’s trending on social networks is, or is likely to become, commercially viable.
Interesting points of analysis indicates that:
* 33% of online fashion chatter around steampunk can be found on gaming sites;
* 2010 saw a year-on-year increase in chatter of 296%. This increase can be attributed to steampunk-inspired NYC ComicCon events in October of 2010;
* Twitter is the number one social network for steampunk chatter, and hosts six times the number of discussions as Facebook;
* 63% of fashion discussions around steampunk are initiated by individuals less than 30 years old; and
* 55% of social sentiment chatter for steampunk fashion derived by blogs.
“Smart retailers are using social analytics to better understand, predict and shape consumer demand for ‘must-have’ products before a particular trend gets saturated in the marketplace,” says Trevor Davis, consumer products expert with IBM’s Global Business Services.
“By staying ahead of a trend as it develops, a retailer can more effectively control critical merchandising, inventory and planning decisions. Technology can provide tremendous foresight to help businesses differentiate what is a fleeting fad, versus what is an enduring trend.”
The IBM Social Sentiment Index combines sophisticated analytics and natural language processing technologies to gauge consumer public opinions from Twitter, blogs, message boards and other social media.