Trend Safaris: Exploring the natural habitat of consumer trends

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Experiencing trends in the real world is a great alternative to yet another Power Point presentation. It helps people understand one of TrendWatching’s core beliefs: trends aren’t mystical abstractions but are around us at all times. We just need to keep observant and when you see something novel or innovative ask the right questions: Why is this happening? What new consumer expectations will this trigger? And so what? What is the innovation potential it presents to my business?

I recently had the pleasure to run trend safaris in two of the most exciting cities in Europe: in Berlin for Autogrill and in London for Marriott Hotels.

Innovative retail experiences, culinary concepts, exhibitions, sensory installations, quirky design shops, startups and local entrepreneurs, new client service and promotion approaches, innovative products etc. made up some of our stopovers.

Stops were chosen as demonstrations of the consumer trends previously identified as most relevant for the client’s business. Different routes throughout the city are created for different teams, each being guided by a team leader. The participants have short chats with the business owners to get more insights, learnings, and find out about challenges in running their businesses.

In their trend safari kits, besides a map, a pen and information about the stopovers, each participant also received Inspiration Cards. These help them document and translate the insights they get from each stopover into potential ideas for their business. These ideas are shared and built on in the group, during dinner or the next day when the safari could also be followed by a workshop.

At the same time, participants take pictures and upload them on Instagram with predefined hashtags. At the end of the day, the team has a visual wrap-up of the safari and everyone can see which areas were the other teams exploring. Here are the wrap-ups from Berlin/Autogrill and London/Marriott Hotels

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Chris Stephenson, Director – Design and Development

Global Operations, Europe at Marriott International explains why they turned to a trend-driven workshop and trend safari for their Operations Academy when 20+ directors of operations met in London:

What role did trends play in solving the business challenges you set for your teams? 

We were inspired by the trends session as it provided examples  from other industries that enabled us to consider our own business challenges differently. As a result, the concept ideas presented by the teams were much more ambitious and represented a bigger stretch for each of our brands.

What was the biggest benefit of the trend safari for you & all involved? 

Learning about innovative concepts developed by local entrepreneurs in other sectors was a critical part of helping us to think about how to take a different approach to problem solving within our own business.

 What was the most surprising aspect of the trend safari for you?

Finding out how well networked local entrepreneurs are; by collaborating together they get to take risks on innovation that they may not otherwise be able to do alone.

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