Does Pottery Barn Predict The Next Names? Part 3

Pottery-barn-fall-2012-pg39

This is the third part in a series addressing the burning question: Does Pottery Barn Predict The Next Names?

The long-standing theory is that names appearing on the personalized items in the Pottery Barn Kids catalogs are baby names on the rise.

To figure out if this is really the case or just a rumor, I took samples of names from the 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 Pottery Barn Kids catalogs.

Past installments of this series were:
Part 1 which focused on 2010 (Names were examined from the Autumn 2010 catalog)
Part 2 which focused on 2011 (Names were examined from the Fall 2011 catalog)

And part 3, which focuses on 2012, examines names from the Fall 2012 catalog.

Findings from part 1 and part 2 suggest that the names appearing in the Pottery Barn Kids catalog were in reality slightly behind the baby name trends. I suspect I know why this is, but before drawing any conclusions, I want to complete the series and see if the findings remain consistent.

One finding is that many of the names from the 2010 catalog also appeared in the 2011 catalog. It seems that Pottery Barn likes to reuse some favorite names.

And while some of these familiar names were back in the 2012 catalog, there were also some new names in 2012–many which seemed more fashion-forward than names from earlier years.

In fact some of these new names were on my favorite list, and I even featured one recently.

Here are some guidelines that remain the same from part 1 and part 2 of this series:

Names used for girls are coded pink, boys are coded blue, and if the gender is undetermined (or cannot be assumed) the name is coded green.

For example, Chloe is always assumed to be a girl’s name, even if the decor in the catalog is unisex or even traditionally masculine. For a traditionally unisex name like Taylor, the gender is determined based on the decor in the catalog; depending on whether the decor is traditionally male, female or unisex, the name will be color coded accordingly.

Based on when each name peaked, each name is categorized as:

  • Current (on trend for the catalog year)
  • Traditional (never out of style)
  • Down-market (dated)
  • Up-and-coming (ahead of trends)
  • Original (unknown, invented or rare)

Names from the Fall 2012 online issue:

Current Names

These names from the Fall 2012 catalog peaked around 2012 (and in most cases these names are still at their peak):

Aiden
Bella
Blake
Brooklyn
Chloe
Ella
Emma
Isabella
Max
Mia
Noah
Olivia
Reese
Sophie
Walker

Traditional Names

Name from the Fall 2012 catalog that have been fashionable for at least a couple of generations:

Andrew
James
Matthew
Ryan*

*Could be considered down-market since it has steeply declined since its 1980s peak (when it was just outside the top 10), but has been in the top 25 for nearly 40 years and seems imaginable on a couple of generations.

Down-market Names

Names from the Fall 2012 catalog that statistically were on the decline in 2012:

Abby
Alex
Clayton
Danielle
Drew
Hayden
Hayley
Jake
Jay
Jennifer
Jordan
Madeline
Paige
Patrick
Peter
Riley
Savannah
Sydney
Tanner
Taylor

Now we are getting to the exciting part. The following lists of names are either up-and-coming or original, and were ahead of their time in 2012. If Pottery Barn predicts name trends, these lists should be the longest.

Up-and-coming Names

These names were on the rise and fashion-forward in 2012:

Anne
Asher
Blair*
Claire
Colton
Emerson
Emmett
Georgia
Harper
Henry
Jace
Leo
Liam
Miles
Oliver
Owen
Parker
Sawyer
Tucker
Zoey

*Only a few years ago, Blair would have been considered down-market, but in recent years it has made a comeback. After being moderately popular in the 1980s, it left the top 1000 in 2001 only to return in 2011. Its rank increased in 2012. Appellation Mountain recently wrote a post on Blair which gives some explanations for Blair’s recent resurgence.

Original Names

And here are that names that were completely original in 2012–so uncommon they weren’t on many people’s radar (and in many cases are still under-the-radar):

Addy*
Blythe (One of UBN’s recent Names to Watch!)
Celia
Geoff
Maddie*
Penn

*As nicknames for several fashionable names, Addy and Maddie may not come across as original, but as given names they are rare. If statistics on nicknames (which are very difficult to track) were available, these names would probably count as current or up-and-coming, but I can’t prove that and I had to count nicknames as if they were given names.

Insights from Pottery Barn Kids Autumn 2010, Fall 2011 & Fall 2012 catalogs:

Here’s how Pottery Barn names compare from 2010 – 2012 based on the samples I took from the online archives:

2010 2011 2012
Current 30% 25% 23%
Traditional 16% 9% 6%
Down-market 33% 42% 31%
Up-and-coming 12% 22% 31%
Original 9% 2% 9%

 

Based on the samples from the 2010 – 2012 catalogs, the group of names labeled “traditional” shrunk over the course of three years.

The exciting part is the gradual increase in up-and-coming names each year. I’m curious to see if the up-and-coming names continue to increase in part 4, when I sample names from the 2013 catalog.

Do you think Pottery Barn is trying to live up to its reputation as a baby name trend-setter? Have the marketing people at Pottery Barn begun reading baby name blogs? Or is the increase in up-and-coming names coincidental?

Stay tuned for part 4, the last installment of this series for the conclusion.

Image credit: Pottery Barn Fall 2012 Catalog

Comments

  1. One thing I noticed is that Georgia is listed in both the 2012 and 2011 catalogs, but in 2011, the name is listed as current, and in 2012 as up-and-coming. What is the reasoning behind this?

    • Good observation. I noticed another name, Anne, that I did not classify consistently. Current names were any name that was at a plateau, but names that rank outside the top 10-20 are rarely at a perfect plateau, they may be gradually trending down or up, and sometimes I could not decide if a gradual climb of a name ranking between 200-400 was enough to indicate the name was up-and-coming or just at a plateau.

      With Georgia for instance, the name climbed a little bit between 2002-2006 and then dropped a little between 2007-2009, and then climbed a little between 2010-2012. The overall ranking the past 10 year has risen (from #378 in 2002 to #298 in 2012), but then consider that rankings are only relative and Georgia’s number of births on a line graph show a gentle upward trend during the 1990s and then more of a plateau for most of the 2000s, which suggests Georgia was more of an up-and-coming name for the 1990s. Based on numbers that I found difficult to interpret, I resorted to subjective observations that are not 100% scientific.

      When I was writing about Georgia for 2011, I looked back about 5 years and decided the numbers weren’t increasing enough to represent an up-and-coming name, and then when I was writing about 2012 I looked back 10 years and then remembered hearing Georgia “everywhere” and remembered the big news about George being the chosen name of the newest heir to the British throne.

      And Anne was even more inconsistent. I classified it as up-and-coming one year and down-market the next. I plan to explain why later, but my gut tells me both Anne and Georgia are names to watch.

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