Trend Forecasting : Six Prompts For Considering Trends.

Two designers working with trend information and colour swatches

News that the trend forecasting industry has grown to an estimated $36 billion dollars, suggests that trend forecasting information is becoming increasingly important to innovators and designers.

And, with the industry having achieved such scale, perhaps we should question who is really driving the trends we see on the catwalk and the high street these days – designers or trend forecasters?

In current, risk averse times, trend forecasting information might be an increasingly attractive comfort blanket for designers and innovators. Why peg your own design colours to the mast and risk warehouses full of unsold stock at the end of the season, when instead you could just design in line with what the trend forecasters are suggesting, and so reduce the risk?

In the past, trend forecasting information was printed in books, and often was just one part of a range of stimulus that designers used to inspire them to design their collections. Now, the trend forecasting businesses having moved online. In addition to providing trend forecasts, some companies are providing online tools. These are intended to assist designers and their teams to access the trend data and work collaboratively with it.

Can it be that these online methods are so involving that they become a one-stop shop for design inspiration? Can it be that some designers are tempted to simply surrender to the story of the trend and go with the flow?

Such behaviour is understandable, but not necessarily responsible. It also might end up increasing the risk of collections. Ultimately businesses have brands and propositions. These must be uppermost in any designer’s mind when she is designing – ahead of any fleeting trends.

Six Prompts For Considering Trends.

Below are six prompts that might help when considering trend forecasts and similar data.

  1. How does this trend fit with our brand?

  2. How could this trend help strengthen our brand proposition?

  3. What might come after this trend?

  4. What is the opposite of this trend, and how could that inspire me?

  5. What positive emotions could this trend stimulate in our customers?

  6. What negative emotions could this trend stimulate in our customers?

Of course, creative thinking is required to respond to such prompts, and also a deep knowledge of your brand; its values and personality.

Designers and innovators should try to not be seduced completely by the smooth talk and engaging toolkits of the trend forecasters. Trend forecasters have been growing fat on the promise of reducing the risk of design and being the expert on what the customer will want.

Trend forecasters clearly have a role to play, but ultimately designers and innovators need to lead the design process. Trend forecasting data should only have a role as stimulus.

After all, how can a trend forecasting company know your customer as well as you do?

More about trend forecasting.

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