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How do idiosyncratic ideas become the norm?

Dr Lida Hujić is an author, public speaker, curator, innovation & trends consultant. Once described as ‘really hip’ by The Guardian, we could say that she trades in cool currency by advising brand clients as well as masterminding some of the most influential global (micro) trends. She’s the recipient of the one-off MTV Video Music Award in ‘best academic achievement’ for her PhD about MTV, Goldsmiths’ College.
 
Described as ‘extraordinarily engaging’, Lida’s new book, The 2.5% (small group – big influence) is out now. We’re delighted to reconnect with Lida. An old friend of Run Riot’s, we partnered with her for the launch of her first book The First to Know, which truly struck a chord with our readers. Here she tells us a bit more about the The 2.5% as well as the forthcoming event Maverick Mondays to celebrate its launch at Impact Hub King’s Cross. Lida will be joined by special guest, pioneering DJ and producer Mark Moore for a ‘in conversation’. Read on, to find out more and win tickets to attend this exceptional event.

 
I’ve always been fascinated by non-conformists, who challenge the status quo for the better good. The research informing my books and my curating work is a combination of my personal and professional experience. I get inspired by hanging out with creative characters whose way of doing (here, I mean a combination of fashion, clubbing, art pursuits and the like) that starts underground ends up generating mainstream interest. And then professionally, in my marketing practice (insight-led innovation, to be more precise), I am interested in how to spot small signs of big change early on. I put those two together and over time, I developed a model for anticipating change.
 
Already with The First to Know, there were some questions that I grappled with and tentative concepts that emerged, which I fully develop in The 2.5%. Say, if you are a creative type, it’s common that you would want to start your own thing, hoping that would become the next big thing. Or, if you are a new fashion designer, you’d want to be the next black. And yet, only a minority becomes the next big thing or the next black. My work is about that minority.
 
It is about being ahead of the curve – literally. I borrowed my title from the ‘innovation diffusion’, a hugely influential marketing concept that explains how new ideas break into the market through spreading the relevant word of mouth among satisfied customers. It’s a curve that shows the rise and fall of any trend, starting with innovators, followed by early adopters, reaching to the tipping point via early majority, then sliding down towards late majority and ending up with laggards.
 
The novelty of my model is its focus on the innovator. Innovators constitute only 2.5% of the global population but these hidden influencers shape the trends that we all eventually buy into. At the same time, being ahead of the consuming crowd is about that elusive cool factor. Cool or hip – I use them interchangeably.


In a gist, The 2.5%: Small Group – Big Influence shows how new societal scenarios for the better good emerge out of the union of arty and entrepreneurial characters from the margins, especially at times of crises. I call them Alphas and Mavericks, respectively. That union represents the formation of the early adopter (what their values are and how those are expressed through purchasing behaviour). On the one hand, I trace how style-conscious creative types become the next big thing. On the other, I chart the rise of conscious consumerism, featuring significant drivers of this growing trends. The First to Know was about the New Premium Consumer, the early adopter born out of the union of the two types of innovators, which was superseded by the New Consciousness Consumer in The 2.5%. That cyclical change is called a ‘cool cycle of reinvention’.

I introduce a lot of new concepts to explain the cross over from of an idea from idiosyncratic to norm. For example, there’s the 7th year itch. Already in The First to Know, I had a hunch that the 7th year of any decade since the 1960s – which is the homeland of hip – signals the beginning of the co-optation of something original that was created underground. As a result, that authentic, fresh trend becomes mainstream and necessarily diluted. But at the same time, that process of ‘mainstreamisation’ (another new concept) is also the cue for something new to start bubbling up. Hip reinvents itself by rejecting what it had previously patronised, which makes this constant change attractive to marketers. That’s paradox of hip. It’s the lifeblood of consumer society but it is also about rebellion that leads to positive change.

Maverick Mondays is a way of bringing the book to life by celebrating these innovators, who drive new trends by challenging the status quo with inclusivity and sustainability at its heart. From a one-off, Maverick Mondays turned into a series of events at private members’ club, Soho House. That’s been my home away from home, where I’ve been part of the events’ ‘fam’ since 2012. In fact, there is a whole chapter dedicated to Shoreditch House (the east London home from Soho House Group). Through the prism of the book, its role on the innovation diffusion is described as the ‘sign of the times diffusion platform’ (yes, another new concept – I did say I introduced a lot of new stuff!). Once a month, members took their Monday evenings off to do something good and get inspired by visionaries, either featured in the book or sharing the same ethos… until the wretched COVID 19 pandemic rudely interrupted the flow.

So, I am really excited to finally be able to resume with Maverick Mondays and host it IRL.

I am collaborating with Impact Hub King’s Cross, which is featured in the book (as another new concept: ‘diffusion platform’). It prides itself in being a true facilitator for those wishing to build ‘a just and sustainable world where business and profit are used in service of people and planet’, which is living and breathing what Maverick Mondays aims to promote.

Last but by no means least, my guest for the evening will be the wonderful Mark Moore. As your readers will know, Mark is one of the UK pioneers, who championed house. I know Mark from hanging out. He’s a ‘type’ who inspired my book, a category of innovator I dub as ‘opinion former’. I am really looking forward to doing the ‘in convo’ with him, covering his experience and trajectory to global fame, the enduring legacy of ‘acid house’, its constant reinvention, the milestones (the second summer of love driven by Mark and his peers; revival by nu rave, described at length in The First to Know, and most recently, the third summer of love, as described in The 2.5%), DIY enterprise, connections between the rave ethos and the rise of conscious consumerism. Fundamentally, there is a link between the idea of social enterprise and the rave culture:  to create positive social change.

Maverick Mondays are not conventional interviews. It’s about true insight rather than plugging stuff, although I can’t end this piece without mentioning Mark’s latest project: a chapter about Quentin Crisp in The Queer Bible, edited by Jack Guinness, Harper Collins (2021). And for all ya’ 80s afficionados, rest assured, S’Express Box Set (full works!) is coming soon!

Lida Hujić is the author of The 2.5%, available here (to get a copy for £2.50 instead of £25.00, that’s a whopping 90% discount available till 10th October, use code: runriot), and The First to Know is available from Amazon or from Central Books, independent distributor, email mo@centralbooks.com.

The Queer Bible featuring a chapter by Mark Moore on Quentin Crisp is available as a hardback, ebook and audio book through various retailers, see here.

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COMPETITION: Win 1x pair of tickets to attend Maverick Mondays with Dr Lida Hujic and Mark Moore at 18:30 on Monday 4 October at Impact Hub King's Cross, 34B York Way, London.


To enter the competition, send an email to jamie@run-riot.com with the correct answer in the ‘subject’ line. The winner will be randomly selected.

Q: To help understand some of the definitions in her book The 2.5%, Dr Lida Hujic provides a concise and slightly tongue-in-cheek glossary (you can find it here).

What is this the definition of? 'trend setter, effortlessly cool, whose word of mouth is powerful — falls under Alpha Innovators and consists of three types (DILLIGAF, Impresario, Opinion Former), each con-secutively positioned at the start of the-first-to-know innovation diffusion continuum.'

A: .1) Alpha Trend Setter .2) Bearded hipster .3) Influencer .4) Innovator

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