Describes the phenomenon of turning completely mundane commodities into chic, popular luxury items or goods, offering consumers a bewildering number of varieties of what were once invisible parts of daily life. Witness a recent Forbes article about ‘Salt Chic’ (Forbes, October 28, 2002) featuring Californian restaurant chefs using 20 varieties of gourmet sodium chloride, with a certain variety of Japanese sea salt costing 45 USD per kilo.

So 50 different kinds of pepper or one hundred kinds of sugar cannot be far behind. Far fetched? Other commodities became SNOBMODDITIES a long time ago (bread, water, chocolate), so it is a sure bet that more ‘unexpected’ commodities will become specialty goods one day or another, however unlikely it may seem at inception. In that sense, SNOBMODDITIES more than fit Arthur C. Clarke's theory about the three periods that new ideas pass through:
1. It can't be done.
2. It probably can be done, but it's not worth doing.
3. I knew it was a good idea all along!

Opportunities aplenty: there is hardly any commodity which can NOT be turned into a SNOBMODDITY or specialty good. By adding variety, choice and/or a brand (with a certain promise), margins can only go up. How to find the next SNOBMODDITIES? Study commodity success cases such as lettuce (which now mainly comes pre-washed, precut, and prepackaged, in a few dozen varieties, as strategy guru Gary Hamel pointed out in 1999), daily bread (Portuguese flat bread with Moroccan dates, anyone?) and the lowly coffee bean (Double Shot, Half Decaf, Skinny Iced White Chocolate Mocha to go)!

Not to be outdone, TRENDWATCHING.COM boldly predicts that you will one day insist on having Saharan desert sand in your children’s sand box, and Saharan desert sand only ;-)

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MAY 2003
| Recently spotted: 'Extreme Beer', or aged specialty beers, like Sam Adams' Utopia which can fetch up to USD 300 per bottle on Ebay these days (source: WSJ).

The pay-off? Not only are margins good, but introducing a SNOBMODDITY like Utopia can give mainstream brewers a cool and exclusive edge. Time for Heineken or Carlsberg to dig into their DORMANDISE or go on an acquisition trip at www.beeradvocate.com and give cognac and fine wines a run for their money? >> Email this trend to a friend.

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APRIL 2004
The concept of turning something mundane into more varieties than you can wave a stick at, is taken very seriously by Rice to Riches, a Nolita (New York) store offering a bewildering choice in rice pudding, and rice pudding only! More than 20 varieties, from 'Surrender to Mango' and 'Coconut Coma' to 'Caramel Yogurt Crackdown' and 'Pray for Praline' are available for take-away in funky plastic containers. No doubt inspired by Ben and Jerry's high quality desserts with funky names, Rice to Riches is yet another example of how marketers can turn even lowly products into something special: premium prices and higher margins courtesy of their own imagination. What is your company's equivalent of rice pudding?



To stick with the food and beverage theme: tea seems to be ready for a SNOBMODDITY upgrade, too. Now that even corner shops in small Swedish villages are selling raspberry-infused Japanese green tea, it's time for tea-inspired SNOBMODDITIES like Black Tea Lollipops from Verithé, which are made from brewed tea and cane sugar. Or try green tea pedicures at the Warren-Tricomi Salon in New York. And what to think of 'Perfect World' skin products from Origins, which combine essentials like firming moisture treatment, intensely hydrating body cream and highly hydrating body lotion with White Tea? It might not be YOUR cup of tea, but it IS to tens of thousands of trend setting consumers...



And from Japanese tea to Japanese food: now that Sushi restaurants are becoming as ubiquitous as Chinese and Thai eateries around the world, keep an eye on wasabi, a SNOBMODDITY-in-waiting! The sharp, green Japanese horseradish has gone from novelty to mainstream, which means SNOBMODDITIZATION must be around the corner. For more inspiration, visit www.wasabiwatusi.com, and don't say we didn't warn you on this one! (Source: Springspotters, Newsweek.)

OPPORTUNITIES
You may be sitting on a SNOBMODDITY without even knowing it! With the world going MASS CLASS, there will be demand for products variations that only a few years ago would have been dismissed as being beyond 'nichest of the nichest'. The most important thing about SNOBMODDITIES? Repeat after us: premium prices, higher margins! >> Email this trend to a friend.



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