Using Trends in Innovation Programs

Using trends in innovation programs is essential. We are often asked, “What exactly are trends and how can I use them?”

Trends have many levels.  Smaller or more targeted trends typically trickle down from larger mega-trends occurring at the global level socially, politically or environmentally. An example of a mega-trend and how it trickles down is global warming, which trickles down to more sustainable farming techniques and organic farming at an industry level, resulting in consumers buying local at a community level and becoming interested in home gardening at a more personal level.

While fads are seasonal or short-lived, trends are long-lasting over many seasons, years or decades. So, if they are long lived, why do trend reports come out every year? Within trends, there are seasonal or yearly nuances or interpretations that change. For example, the latest hot colors and food ingredients can change depending on the emotional response to trends in the social, political or environmental situations.

So how can trends be used in your business?  Here are a few thought starters:

  • Taking a survey of the latest and greatest in your industry, or an industry that you are considering for expansion, is a great first step in an innovation program.  This can help you understand state of the art and the direction the industry is headed.  This understanding can help provide a basis for the trajectory of your innovation roadmap or help your company develop new internal processes.
  • Develop insights from various trends that can be used to brainstorm new innovative ideas.  Your company doesn’t always need to do original research to develop insights.  They can often be developed from trend research that can be purchased and synthesized to fit your needs.
  • Use trends to help you make tweaks to existing products so they stay relevant - such as fresh new features, colors, materials, patterns, or finishes.

Need help getting started using trends for your innovation program?  Let us know, we’re here to help!