As a researcher and a cyclist, I was doubly interested in this Slate article about the absence of fixed-gear, or fixie, bicycles in China. (For those of you not familiar with the hipster fixie trend, here’s a quick primer.) While the article is ostensibly about this one product in this one country, it makes a larger point about trends and cultural context.

What is “cool” and “trendy” to one audience can be “weird” and “useless” to another. And this is not just true when comparing Brooklyn and Beijing. In research, subtle differences in demography can have huge effects on the perceptions of a product. Considering the cultural context in which we operate is always key.

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