Fashion, inspiration and an 'unlimited' budget: Embracing the Expectation Economy at the European Institute of Design


When I say I work with trends, 90% of people instinctively assume I work as a fashion trend forecaster (until they see what I’m wearing that is!). Or, if not fashion, they think I look at what’s #trending on social media - as for many, they are the only 'trends' they are familiar with.

So when I visited the European Institute of Design (IED) in Barcelona to present consumer trends and our Trend-Driven Innovation methodology to a group of students enrolled on a short course on - you guessed it! - fashion trends, it was extremely refreshing to be around a group of students that were already well versed in trends of both natures.


They understood the importance of tracking current trends, changes in culture and regularly scanning their ‘go-to’ list of sources for inspiration, meaning these areas were quickly covered. So, for me, the importance of the session was to help this group to see how and why tracking business innovations could really help elevate their own research now and in the future - all through a greater understanding of consumer behaviour .

Kicking-off the session with an overview of what consumer trends are - and how our methodology helps evaluate in innovations emerging constantly from all corners of the world - gave the students a firm understanding as to why this session could be relevant for them. This was followed by a breaking-down of our theory on the expectation economy, which is the key message that helps link industry trends and consumer trends.


Discussing with the students if they saw expectations of consumers cultivated by brands in the fashion industry cross over into the other industries, the first name to come up was Burberry and how their innovative use of in-store technology changes what consumers across luxury retailing expect from their shopping experience. A great example of expectation transfer in action!

We rounded off the day with a Consumer Trend Canvas workshop. This tool is designed to help draw insights from any trend and use them to influence and inspire the innovation process, with the process designed to immediately helps students see how trends can really benefit their current and future projects.


Then, faced with a unlimited imaginary budget and a big fashion brand to innovate for, the students let their creativity run free to dream-up a new products, services, marketing campaign and experiences. From a hide-and-seek game created for Dior, to an immersive VR room to transport consumers to the Brazilian rainforest for Nike, the workshop ignited ingenuity from the students - showing them that you don’t just need to follow fashion to stay ahead of the trends ;)


Victoria Foster is the Head of TrendWatching’s Insight Network, as well as working with numerous universities from across the globe to provide materials for students, guest lectures and facilitate longer project. Think a similar course could work for you? Get in touch at