We have a couple of thoughts ;) Here’s a step-by-step overview of our approach when it comes to staying ahead of the curve.
The not-so-secret secret to spotting trends?
Trends provide powerful answers to the huge question you’re wrestling with: ‘what will my customers want next?’
And if we have one secret, it’s the counter-intuitive insight at the heart of our trend methodology. To anticipate what your customers will want next, don’t simply ask them (faster horses anyone? ;). Don’t feel you have to study them obsessively (who has the time or money to do that these days anyway?). And don’t just crunch their data (no matter how ‘big’ your data, it’s best used for validation and optimization rather than to inspire truly disruptive leaps). Instead, look at the innovations – new products, services, campaigns and more – that consumers are lavishing attention on now.
Yes, that’s right. The key to actionable foresight lies in looking at the overwhelming onslaught of innovations that now whiz past our eyes and across our screens every day.
But how can that be true? Why does watching innovations lead to foresight on what your customers will want next?
The answer lies in the expectations those innovations are creating. When an innovation serves a basic need in a new way, it sets new customer expectations. And then the really important part happens: expectation transfer. Once created by a game-changing innovation, these new customer expectation spread across markets, industries, product and service categories, and demographics. And thanks to the global brain, they spread faster than ever. Eventually, they’ll spread all the way to your door!
That’s why any customer today riding in a car expects the entertainment system to be as intuitive as an iPhone. It’s why customers primed by streaming digital content (Napster became iTunes became Spotify) now expect instant access to a limitless range of physical goods, from cars to clothes. It’s why the one-touch, geo-located, cashless convenience of Uber isn’t confined to hailing a taxi, but becomes the expected level of customer experience and service no matter what the context.
And it’s why watching innovations – and interrogating them for the new customer expectations they create – is the key to powerful and actionable foresight on what customers will want next.
But wait, we can already hear your next question: ‘but how do we process the thousands of innovations out there?’ Well, it helps to have a Trend Framework…
The 16 mega-trends that define the future of consumerism.
Too often, professional trend watchers imply they have an inherent gift that enables them to divine the future. Now, we don’t want to be the ones to spoil the party, but the insights you’ve just read didn’t just emerge from a top-secret, caffeine-fueled brainstorming session.
We map all the expectation-changing innovations we spot against our Trend Framework: the 16 mega-trends – the big, slow-moving currents – that taken together form our complete picture of consumerism today and where it’s heading. Having a robust and comprehensive Trend Framework allows us to assess the implications of the hundreds, if not thousands, of innovations we see on a daily basis and that we receive from our Insight Network.
Our mega-trends are grounded in two main forces:
Human needs and wants. These are the most fundamental and universal drivers of behavior. They include the search for social status, for connection, for self-improvement, for reliable and trusted information, and more.
Environmental change. Large-scale shifts in the external environment also impact consumerism. These cover everything from the spread of technology to the shifting contours of global economic power.
So, while the world changes faster than ever, our Trend Framework gives us points of stability from which we can connect new innovations to the longer-term forces shaping the future of business. Indeed you’ll now understand how when post-truth becomes a ‘thing’, we’re able to look past the headlines and identify the five core truths featured in this report.