Opinion: The Role of Gut Instinct in Forecasting

Written by trendbible

28 July 2013

Many trend forecasters will talk about having a ‘gut feel’ for an emerging trend but when it comes to justifying something that seems so instinctive, how can it be evidenced?

“Our clients are some of the world’s most recognised brands so they don’t make decisions based on how one person feels,” explains Trend Bible founder Joanna Feeley. “One of the most important parts of our job when advising strategists and designers is to evidence as clearly as possible what the seed of the trend is. Sound forecasting is never based on personal taste and our clients want as much proof as possible that what we’re telling them will happen.”

Gut instinct is so often referenced as part of the reasoning when building evidence for an emerging trend. It accompanies rigourous research, expert opinions, geographical interpretations, cultural rules, historical context, consumer behaviour insight, market analysis, years of experience and lots more besides. All of these are measurable and researchable but alone will only give you a list of information that paints a picture of ‘today’ and maybe even ‘tomorrow’ but certainly won’t give you a projection for life in two- to five-years time.

But this concept of ‘gut instinct’ that seems so mysterious and elusive is critical in accurately forecasting trends. Our instinct is well-honed and based on the collective commercial experience of our team.

“It has to go beyond pretty pictures,” explains Joanna. “Our clients want to know what will be happening and when, and we always think in very commercial terms about trend forecasting. Our trend concepts will begin as a seed of an idea will grow into a story backed up with lots of evidence. Ultimately it will become a product on a shelf that has to sell. It’s a creative thinking process, but it is also about sales and commerciality, and that’s where I think we really do something different to some of the other forecasting agencies who’s objective is ‘to inspire’. We inspire, yes, but then we go the extra mile and help our clients build product ranges and marketing messages that are commercial dynamite.”

Our clients tend to have a razor-sharp knowledge of their product or sector specialism, but the larger an organisation is, the more it is at risk of developing ‘blind spots’ to innovation. We are commissioned to look at a broader set of influences, to share insight into market shifts, consumer behaviour and innovations in other industries and contextualise these within the framework of the future as we see it.

Gut instinct alone would not allow you to answer some of the questions our clients like to ask us, such as; how do you know this trend will impact what we do? Can you show us evidence of trends you’ve forecast in the past that followed a similar trajectory? How much is this opportunity worth to us? When will this trend impact mass-market audiences? How do you monitor the rate of adoption of a trend?

These are questions that simply cannot be answered by subscribing to an online trend service, and are the reason why our clients work with us to decide precisely which trends will impact what they do and when.

Talk to us about forecasting trends specific to your company’s needs by emailing ruth@trendbible.com

Find out more about how we develop bespoke trend services for our clients. To discover more contact us – enquiries@trendbible.com

Trend Bible have helped an experienced marketing team to think about our brand, the market and the future in a completely different way. The results have been positive and tangible. Their input is challenging, fresh but critically also practical.

Sherwin Williams

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