Trendspotting’s Secret Sauce

— Heather Scott, WE 

For brands, trendspotting can be the “secret sauce” to disrupt conventional thinking and help innovation thrive. But first, let's define what we mean by a trend.

We aren’t talking about fashion, economic or technology trends. It's about human trends and new behaviors, attitudes and expectations affecting consumers’ purchasing decisions. There’s so much going on in the world of media, tech and consumerism that it’s easy to forget that human needs, desires and wants are still the basis for what we as marketers and communicators must factor into our plans.

Brands have to find the “sweet spot” – which is really the intersection of three things:

  1. Basic needs: the fundamentals that don’t change month to month or season to season – like the need for safety and social connection.
  2. Drivers of change: external factors affecting society, like politics and economics, that explain why this trend is happening at a certain moment in time.
  3. Innovations: not only the breakthroughs happening to and within an industry, but the landscape in which such breakthroughs can exist.

Here at WE, we believe the greatest opportunity to find this sweet spot is to think beyond our client and their industry by using macro-trends (ones that have staying power) to inspire great ideas and even super-charge our brainstorm sessions. We hold Trend Workshops in our offices to learn how to spot key trends, and identify points of tension between what people want and what’s currently available. Ultimately, we want our clients to understand how they can use them to their advantage.

To continually sense the direction customers are headed, trends are a powerful tool to understanding what is culturally relevant. Take the “hi-lo” trend dominating consumer brands right now. As consumers crave micro-indulgences, the lines between mass market and luxury products are blurring more than ever.

We’re seeing more hi-lo product development and brand mash-ups that are creating a new premium paradigm. This applies to multiple industries like food and dining (pairing popcorn and champagne) and fashion (matching a few designer investment pieces with your H&M seasonal find). Consumers are challenging convention and resisting the notion that luxury is only for the affluent. Today luxury means laid-back comfort instead of formality – and as WE’s Brands in Motion research shows, brands that fail to recognize this opportunity and harness its motion will be shut out of the market.

Learn more about how you can bring a Trend Workshop to your clients to inspire fresh perspective and help them think of ways they can apply these to their business to innovate.

For more information, contact Heather Scott, WE VP of Customer Insights