Steampunk: A sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century.
That's how Wikipedia characterizes the phenomenon.
And based on an analysis of more than a half million blog public posts on message boards, blogs, social media sites, and news sources, IBM predicts that "steampunk" will be a major trend to soon bubble up and take hold in the retail industry.
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, visual arts, etc.).
A combination of science fiction and fantasy, steampunk is a sub-genre based around gothic machinery and the industrialized civilization of the 19th century.
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 11-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.
Following are a few of the sound bytes that support this forecast:
- Thirty-three percent of online fashion chatter around steampunk can be found on gaming sites.
- 2010 saw a year on year increase in chatter of 296 percent. This increase can be attributed to steampunk-inspired NYC ComicCon events in October of 2010.
- Twitter is the No. 1 social network for steampunk chatter; it hosts six times the number of discussions as Facebook.
- Sixty-three percent of fashion discussions around steampunk are initiated by individuals less than 30 years old.
- Fifty-five percent of social sentiment chatter for steampunk fashion is derived from 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," said 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 merchandizing, inventory, and planning decisions. Technology can provide tremendous foresight to help businesses differentiate what is a fleeting fad, versus what is an enduring trend."
About the IBM Social Sentiment Index
The IBM Social Sentiment Index uses advanced analytics and natural language processing technologies to analyze large volumes of social media data in order to assess public opinions.
The Index can identify and measure positive, negative, and neutral sentiments shared in public forums such as Twitter, blogs, message boards, and other social media and provide quick insights into consumer conversations about issues, products, and services.
Representing a new form of market research, social sentiment analyses offer organizations new insights that can help them better understand and respond to consumer trends. IBM's social sentiment capabilities are delivered on an industry-leading big-data platform that can access, store, and analyze any data regardless of how fast it is moving, what type it is, or where it resides.
For more information about the IBM Social Sentiment Index, please visit this site. Follow the conversation at #IBMIndex on Twitter.