Trends as a catalyst for innovation
Prioritise, Apply, and Create to where it takes your organisation.
At the start of the year, we are inundated with trend reports and cultural forecasts. These reports offer valuable insight and direction. However, they require some extra work to make them relevant to your reality. To leverage trends for innovation in your organisation, you must identify the ones that align with your overall strategy and have the potential to make the most impact.
A good trend is one that emerges from three sources:
Cultural and macro analysis
Drivers of human meaning
Proof of emerging lived experiences
Based on psychological models of human meaning, we have identified four Human Meaning Drivers that underpin our trends. You can find these drivers in our What Matters 2023 Report).
By closely monitoring trends, organisations can identify new opportunities, stay relevant, be competitive, and adapt to the changing landscape. Trend-driven innovation helps organisations identify and capitalise on unmet needs, address societal or market changes, and achieve greater success and growth. To help you capitalise on this year's trends, we have developed the PAC-man acronym, which outlines three steps: Prioritise, Apply, and Create.
Not every trend is equally relevant to every category, company, or brand. An important step is to align trends with your overall strategy. You can use a variety of workshop activities to prioritise trends and opportunity spaces. One of our favourite methods is to map each trend on two dimensions: right-to-play and potential reward. This method requires a deep understanding of both your business and its strategy, as well as the trends.
To unlock the full potential of trends, you need to apply them to your category and brand. You must make them your own. Start by defining which trends show the most potential for your brand, and then engage with your target audience to get their perspective on the shifts in expectations this brings.
Trend reports offer a variety of expressions of how trends are coming to life in different industries. This inspiration will help you ideate on the ‘problems to solve’ that emerge from the application stage. Reframing the problem and tailoring it to your reality sets you up for success in ideation sessions. This is where the value will truly come to life for your stakeholders; actionable propositions you can further explore and take forward.
Take the example of ‘Ever-Evolving Script’, a trend from the 2023 report, reflecting the re-evaluation when it comes to traditional milestones and life moments such as education, marriage and family planning. Recognising that our needs and lives are evolving, we're finding ways to feel comfortable with this constant change. How could this change journeys in the financial services industry? What are the implications to services that commercialise ‘family plans’? What types of different celebration moments occur that can inspire new ideas?
Trend-driven innovation is a powerful tool in your innovation arsenal, alongside insight-driven and R&D-driven efforts. But to find your way in this maze of new trends and inspirations, you need to play a game of PAC-man. Prioritise, Apply, and Create to where it takes your organisation.