Do you have a forward view?


Joanna Feeley, Founder and CEO of TrendBible, explains why having a forward view is so important for your organisation.

The word ‘trend’ trips a lot of people up. It’s highly subjective and has been given new meaning in the past few years as we see topics and posts ‘trend’ on social media.

So sometimes we use alternative language and ask clients:

Do you have a forward view?

Do you have scheduled meetings set aside where you gather to talk about what will influence your company in the next 2-3 years?

Do you know what’s changing in your customer’s life in the next 2-3 years? And I mean BEYOND the relationship they have with your product. What does the broader lifestyle picture look like for them?

A forward view, but a narrow one! 

I’m thinking of an example from a few years ago when we worked with a company that made baby electronics, the aesthetic of which was hugely influenced by the arrival of the iPhone. If you had only been looking for change in the world of baby, you’d have completely missed what this new, first-time parent was looking for in the aesthetics of their baby products. Just as today, if you’re making baby products and that process is divorced from the conversation around the environment or gender equality, you won’t engage this customer. I’ll talk more about the importance of identifying biases and blindspots in another post. But I digress.

Spread the message 

The forward view can’t exist solely in the Boardroom. It has to be seen, felt, and tangibly evident throughout the whole organisation. This is why we set up a Trend Ambassador programme for some of our clients, where we appoint internal staff as ‘change agents’ to help their teams share and distribute the forward view so that it doesn’t disappear or stagnate.

Design representation at Board level

And one thing I’ve noticed in over 20 years of working closely with global brands is that Designers are supremely placed to contribute to the forward view. It’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about getting Design representation at Board level. Designers are trained to think about how the customer is changing, they are often supremely tuned in to the big questions a business needs to ask itself. Do you have a Design Director, or Chief Futures Officer, on your board?

We have a forward view. What’s next?

80% of brands and retailers tell us their biggest challenge is activating trends. When we launched MyTrendBible, it was really important to me to make sure we had a space where professionals could come for coaching and guidance on how to use trends, how to get the best from them and how to bring them alive in the businesses they work in.

If you are looking for something that goes beyond telling you what trends are coming, and want guidance on how to bring them to life, you can access Masterclasses, our training content, as part of our Premium membership package.

You can also find more articles in this trend forecasting series written by Joanna Feeley here.

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