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The left-hand side of the Consumer Trend Canvas will help you unpack and understand the trend.
Seeing what other purposed businesses, entrepreneurs, non-profits and governments are already doing with the trend is a great way to better understand it (and gain inspiration!)
Indeed, very few ‘innovations’ are totally new. Most (successful) innovation comes from combining seemingly unrelated elements, or deploying something in a new context.
So try this: look at existing business innovations, understand them, then adapt them to your business. To gain as wide a perspective as possible, look specifically at other industries, other regions or cultures, or other types of business (e.g. corporates versus start-ups).
Consumer trends – and consumer behaviours more broadly – are ultimately driven by rarely-if-ever-changing basic human needs and desires. Identifying these underlying needs is central to understanding any consumer trend.
Where to start? How about these:
To analyze change, think Shifts and Triggers.
Shifts are the long-term, macro changes that are playing out across years or even decades, that while not consumer trends themselves, will shape both the direction and flavor of a specific trend. You can think about the PESTLE framework as a guide to identify shifts. Or see Bain Consulting Group's overview of Big Trends (such as climate crisis, urban transition and ageing world) for a good summary of the macro shifts currently shaping the world.
Triggers are the more immediate changes that drive the emergence of a consumer trend. These can include specific technologies, political events, economic shocks, environmental incidents and more. For example, the Covid pandemic made many realize the importance of working on their emotional resilience through 'MINDCRAFT' and made companies embrace the SYNCHRONOS trend, assisting burned out consumers in resetting the clocks.
Try looking at the data behind the trend. Rapid growth or sudden shifts, even if the absolute numbers might be small, are worth attention.
New consumer trends emerge when basic human needs bump up against external change to create (or unlock) new needs, wants, and desires. And identifying these unmet needs and wants is the holy grail of understanding trends, as it will present you with compelling innovation opportunities.
To identify emerging needs, wants, and desires, look for expectation gaps between what consumers want, and what they currently have.
Ask yourself “What do those consumers - embracing the brands, products, and services that embody this trend now - want or even expect?”.
One further tip: pay careful attention to other industries. Consumers don’t think in industry silos. New expectations of quality or service will usually be set outside your industry, but they won’t remain there for long.
The right-hand side of the CTC is all about identifying what meaningful opportunities this trend can present for your business.
We’ve long said that when thinking about a consumer trend, it helps to consider how and where it could impact your business using these four areas:
Say ‘trends’ and many people instantly think of demographics. And of course, consumers that share certain traits (whether in age, income, lifestyle, tribe, location, etc.) will often have similar tastes and preferences.
But when it comes to applying consumer trends, try thinking beyond those who are currently living the trend. Indeed, thinking about what changes you would have to make, to make this trend relevant for other (new) demographics, is a great way to come up with new innovations.
Need further inspiration? Then look to the margins and at what extreme users are currently doing. New consumer behaviors usually start with certain (niche) segments, before evolving and spreading throughout the mass market.
Finally, generate your innovation ideas in this final section. Do this by coming up with as many combinations and permutations of the Emerging Expectations to address, the Innovation Type and the Who.
Before you wrap up, you and your team can discuss and select the final idea to pitch to the other teams.