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IBM Social Sentiment Index Predicts New Retail Trend In The Making

NEW YORK, Jan. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- National Retail Federation Convention -- Based on an analysis of more than a half million public posts on message boards, blogs, social media sites and news sources, IBM (NYSE: 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 jewelry makers are expected to integrate a steampunk aesthetic into their designs in the coming year.

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Measuring public sentiment can help retail chief marketing officers customize 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 real-time 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, 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.  Rooted in the designs of the industrialized civilization 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 revolutionize 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.

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