Trendwatching – using trends for long-lasting innovation

Exploring the future in 3 steps

You’ve decided to renew your product, service or process. But how can you make the right decisions for the future when all of your experiences are based on the past?

To make future proof decisions it is important to know what’s going on in your business, in the consumers’ head and in society as a whole. One of the methods you can use to map out the future is trendwatching.

Now you’re probably thinking: “Trendwatching, isn’t that the kind of thing young and trendy people do to figure out what’s in fashion next season? What can this possibly do for my business?” Well, let’s start with the fact that you’re not the only one with that (incorrect) image of trendwatching. You’re also not the only one who, as a result of this, misses opportunities to innovate. 


Let me start by clarifying what exactly a ‘trend’ is. A trend goes way beyond the fashion industry. As a matter of fact, the trends I am talking about have virtually nothing to do with fashion. The trends I’m talking about are shifts you can use as substantiation and inspiration for your innovation process.

To be able to make optimal use of trends in order to create more valuable innovations, it is important to distinguish three different trend levels:


Microtrends are also known as ‘market trends’. These are clusters of ‘signals’ which consists of ‘tangible’ developments, such as new products and services. Microtrends have a duration, on average, of 1 to 5 years. For example, initiatives such as To Good To Go, Inglorious fruits and vegetables and Forgotten fruit. These signals have something in common: they all offer a solution against food waste. That’s why they together form a Microtrend. 


Macrotrends are also called ‘consumer trends’. Unlike Microtrends, Macrotrends are not tangible. They are changing (latent) needs of the consumer, like insights, norms and values. These trends can last 5 to 10 years and are the foundation on which Microtrends are built. The initiatives against food waste (the Microtrend discussed above) originated from a growing awareness, the need to waste less food and to do something good for the world. 


And last, but not least; Megatrends. These are major societal trends. Where Micro- and Macrotrends are relatively small and manageable, Megatrends are large and complex shifts. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that they are very difficult to identify. Megatrends can be substantiated from research, data and statistics. They have a major impact on our society and can last up to 10 to 50 years. For example, shifts like urbanization, globalization, ageing and sustainability are all megatrends. And ‘sustainability’ happens to be one of the Megatrends from which the above-mentioned initiatives against food waste originated.

Exploring the future (or trendwatching) is, in short, signalling changes to make strategic choices for the future. Choices with which you considerably increase your innovation’s chance of long-term success! 


Hungry for more?

Curious how trendwatching can help you innovate successfully? Send me a message at I’ll gladly tell you more about it.

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