Implementing foresight and techniques to monitor product design trends

Marta Przyłęcka
03 December 2020
3 min read

In an ever-changing changing world, it seems crazy to assume that one can predict the future. Nonetheless, some methods can help you analyze the market and spot what will become the next hype. You can use product design trends to discover market niches and define new target groups. Including these new methods in the product discovery process can broaden your teams’ creative horizons, and ensure the better design of your start-up’s products and services. Get inspired by the techniques described below!

This article covers:

  • Basic anatomy of trend and characteristics of the groups it affects

  • Trendwatching techniques: desk and field research

  • Working with others and analyzing cases to predict the future

  • Big picture approach in trend watching

Know your product trends

There are a few types of trends: mega, macro, micro-trends, and fads. They are classified based on their scalability, the time-period to which they apply, and the number of people they affect. Megatrends show the bigger picture, whereas fads live short and fade quickly. You need to have them in mind when researching trends and to build your knowledge base.

Follow innovators

Consumers are split into innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. These groups have different novelty approaches. Innovators are the most open-minded and laggards are the most sceptical. It’s a smart strategy to observe what early adopters are excited about. The thing that may seem strange at first can be a hit very soon. That was the case with many fashions and tech trends. Early adapters connect innovators with the rest. They make trends easier to adopt for commoners. It’s an easy growth-hacking hack as social media (mainly Instagram) makes it simple to follow their sense of style and instinct.

Desk research

Dive deep into all things using the Internet and social media. Nowadays, it's possible to interact with various content and connect with different people. You can get their point of view without leaving your desk. Find out what people are talking about, what they’re buying, and what's currently trending. It will enable you to draw conclusions to be used in building your product or service's value proposition. Statistical data is also beneficial and usually provided for free. You should also check out reports provided by sites like TrendWatching, WGSN, Fjord Trends, or Trend Hunter.

Field research

Go out and observe. Visit inspiring places, museums, and admire buildings. Find out about the context and history of things. Figure out the motivations behind certain phenomena and events to empathize with others. Discover new business opportunities. When planning field research, remember to focus on one field or area of life. This way, you won't get overwhelmed with too many stimuli that will disrupt your findings.

Learn from others

Teamwork makes the dreamwork, and expert knowledge can provide you with insights not present in the mainstream. Use your network, contact people you work with, work for you, and discuss the next hype from their point of view. Ask them what’s their opinion on important matters and everyday things. Learn about their reflections and figure out together the conclusions for the future.

Don’t limit yourself to one market

Trends don't have to apply directly to your own business or idea. Broaden your research scope and analyze what's happening in different fields. Look at your suppliers or contractors. Acknowledging change in various aspects of business can push you to look deeper into your processes to work out the perfect product-market-fit. It may even inspire new collaborations.

Case studies

Learn how others apply trends in planning their business strategy. Focus on Apple, Lego, and Netflix to see how their business changed over the last decades. Look at how they use the future to stay on top of their game. But, don't forget to learn from the mistakes of others.

Aim high with pop culture

Enjoy your favorite movies and TV series researching at the same time. Modern-day entertainment tells poignant stories about the future, from AI, wearable tech, space travel and humanoids. When dealing with such futurist, abstract cases, it’s easy to overshoot it, but it’s better to aim high than take the wind out of your sails. Start with Black Mirror, Ex Machina, or Her.

Trendwatching: Keep an eye on megatrends

Discover new opportunities and seize solutions to the challenges that humanity will face in the future. Thanks to long-term statistical data, it is possible to determine what upcoming trends are most likely to happen. Climate change, growing population/demographic change, digitalization, and urbanization are overwhelming subjects that people will have to deal with in the next decades. Take time to learn about them, and you will better understand how global markets are going to change and what your company can get out of it.

Product design forecasting: Validation

Remember to keep your mind open but at the same time, never lose sight of your own needs and possibilities. When thinking about the value proposition, focus on trends that will happen soon and will impact your industry. Next, check if you know how to successfully plan product development.

To sum up, product design trends and analysis are a great way to stay ahead of the competition, better grasping your clients’ needs, and get inspired by everyday things. Indeed, it’s a discipline of observing the surrounding world and connecting the dots to understand it better. Would you like to know about trendwatching and how to integrate it into your product discovery or strategy? We’d be happy to help. Write to us at: hello@start-up.house

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