Designing the future: 5 steps on how to innovate from a trend forecast

Trend forecasting and foresight are disciplines that should run through a whole business. An executive team can’t craft a bulletproof 1 or 3 year strategy without understanding the future context in which the company will exist. A product design team can’t inform their designs properly if they don’t understand the way that taste and style will change. Marketing teams can’t put the right messages out at the right times if they aren’t tuned in to what matters for their audience. Everyone cares about what their customer will do next, and a designer’s ability to predict that through trend forecasting is critical.

How we forecast trends

Trend Forecasting and foresight resources such as subscription services and trend books are inspiring, practical guides for designers. These trend forecast resources enable businesses to work up to 2-3 years ahead and develop commercially relevant products and messaging for their future consumers.

Detailing everything from broader consumer lifestyles to colour and design inspiration, the development of our own Seasonal Trend Forecasts takes a thorough 6 months from beginning to end. Our trend panels begin with high-concept ideation. The themes we chose to develop are rigorously analysed and scrutinised to ensure commercial relevance and we’ve met the needs of high-end to value, traditional to modern, and slow-moving as well as fast-moving goods.

Once the key themes are refined, we get to work adding colour, material and print specifics, commissioning original imagery and artwork and crediting over 500 new and relevant images to complete the end report.

Images of the TrendBIble team at a trend panel using their forecast methodologies.

You’ve got a trend forecast. What next?

Trend insight is a powerful transformative tool. But forecasting trends is only half the story. Activating trends and keeping them alive all the way through a design process is one of the most common challenges we see in businesses and often why they come to us for further consultation and implementation guidance.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled a 5-step guide for designers on how to innovate from a trend forecast.

A collection of TrendBible mood boards.

1. Clarify the design challenges you are looking to solve

A trend forecast is a treasure trove of inspiration for designers, but without having a starting point or clear brief it can be an overwhelming task to absorb everything all at once. Carve out some time to identify your objectives before you begin. For example, are you building a collection for a new target audience? Or maybe you are looking to refresh an existing range? Whatever your design goals are, be sure to keep them top of mind before diving right into the trend forecast.

2. Identify what’s most relevant to your brand

Next, cut out the noise and find the things inside the forecast that are most relevant to your business. Look out for phrases, words, design details and colour combinations that are the most relevant fit for your audience and your brand. All of our seasonal trend forecasts include a useful shortcut ‘Translate the Trend’ which breaks down how you apply the trend to your specialism. Many TrendBible clients print out this page and use it as a quick glance reference tool at their desks.

3. Dissect the trend forecast and rebuild your own version

Despite the extensive 6 months it takes for our team to build the forecasts, we highly recommend you pull it apart and build your own version. You may prefer to do this as a print collage or as a digital version – we are big fans of Miro. The trend forecasts we supply also include a download pack featuring the full library of images, royalty-free prints and digital colour palettes so you can build your own mood boards.

4. Validate your ideas through trend drivers

Trend drivers create a robust rationale for why a trend will become relevant and timely. Whether you are developing a new product initiative, targeting a new demographic or developing a brand extension, keeping track of the trend drivers will equip you with the validation you need to communicate your ideas to key stakeholders confidently.

 5. Be a trend ambassador for change in your business

Even in companies where there is an investment in trend resources and designers are trend-literate, something falls between knowing what the trends are and doing something meaningful with them. Trend Ambassadors can elevate the trend forecasts to help strategic, product design, buying and marketing teams use trends and get them right. This approach works incredibly well and makes the difference between the brands that can respond to change, and the ones that can’t.

Can you do something similar in your business? How might you position yourself as an advocate for trends and build your role as a Trend Ambassador? Ask us about our Trend Masterclass series.

Our seasonal trend forecasts provide a concise edit of the newest, most innovative trends unique to the future of home and family life. Featuring four inspiring and commercially relevant stories every season, each trend provides clear direction on shape, material, print, pattern and colour (PANTONE® referenced) to unlock creativity and fire the imagination.

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