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Riding the wave of tomorrow – Forecasting future trends

Take a look around yourself and your social bubble. Do you see at least one monstera plant? A freelancer or someone with a side hustle? Someone who does yoga or cold therapy? These are all trends and at WebExpo 2023 Pavlína Louženská together with Thea Prokop [formerly Kučerová] gave a talk on their predictability. So if you want to become a future forecaster, keep reading.

Kūki wo yomu

Kuki what? Trends are the mirror of society, echoing the pulse of what is happening around us in society, politics, and culture. Spotting them is not that difficult, all you need is described in the Japanese word kūki wo yomu which translates to English as reading the room, reading between the lines, or just simply observing. 

Which trends are worth your attention

When talking about trends it can refer to various scales and durations. Here are the three main groups Pavlína mentioned:

  • Megatrends = monumental societal shifts enduring over centuries, such as globalisation, urbanisation, and digitalisation.
  • Trends = last about 5 years and are typically related to consumer behaviour, culture, and industry (e.g. mental health, sustainability, podcasts, etc.).
  • Microtrends (hypes) = fleeting sensations that persist for short durations, ranging from hours to a season including viral hashtags, TikTok sounds, or Instagram poses.

Trend adopting cycle

Nowadays it’s really challenging to keep up with the trends because the trend cycle is much faster than ever before thanks to social media. It still follows the trajectory of 5 kinds of phases according to how it’s being embraced in society.

  1. Innovators – the initial trendsetters who spot trends long before they gain any attention
  2. Adopters – influencers start discussing it and filling the feeds with it, so small social bubbles start to get excited about it
  3. Early majority – mainstream media starts talking about it, approximately half of the population is becoming aware of it
  4. Late Majority – the peak of the trend, it’s widely available, everybody talks about it and it signals the end of the trend
  5. Laggards – people resistant to trends. Innovators often take inspiration from them so they actually might become trendy one day without knowing about it.

Trend forecasting

There are many ways how to become a trend forecaster and Thea selected two of them based on the two main patterns happening in the trend world. She used the example of fashion trends. 

  1. Pendulum swing – moving between the extremes
  2. Trend cycle – as style moves further into the past, it somehow looks “fresh” again

As already mentioned before we live in a fast-paced world where we consume much more content than before. The evolution of trends has been crucially influenced by social media algorithms that target you individually like TikTok for example. As a result of that, we live in our bubbles and it’s no longer possible to invent a cultural phenomenon like the Beatles or Madonna that would unite everyone.

Do’s and Don’ts around trends

It can get overwhelming to navigate trend forecasting with the amount of content and number of influencers and trendsetters out there. Make your life easier and stick to the following list of do’s and don’ts:

❌ Don’t try to invent a trend, you are not big enough.

✅ Look for inspiration in the young generation, because they are the future.

✅ Look outside of your bubble, there is much more to see.

✅ Read the reports and look for contradictions, inversions, oddities, and coincidences because they are the indicators of change.

Mastering the currents of consumer preferences is key to success in any field. To excel with your product or brand, understanding what resonates with people and how to meet their needs is paramount. Thea and Pavlína likened it to surfing – all you need is to read the sea and jump on the right wave at the right time. If you want to look closely and become a skilled trend surfer watch the full video:

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