Behind the Scenes: The Magic and the Maths of Trend Forecasting

Recently, I went behind the scenes with our team at WGSN to produce a white paper on the art and science of trend forecasting, called Anatomy of a Trend.

Two of WGSN’s most visionary experts, Kim Mannino, Head of WGSN Live, and Lisa White, Head of the Vision, walked me through how they distinguished fads from micro trends, and micro trends from movements.

On micro trends vs. macro trends:

KM: “A micro trend starts with your early influencers and moves to mass adoption within one to two years. These trends are important for fashion companies, but tend to be smaller scale realisations of the desires underlying macro trends.”

A macro trend, by contrast, spans at least five years and impacts a variety of industries from technology to finance. Examples of macro trends include the maker movement and the wellness boom, explored in The Anatomy of a Trend white paper (download it below).

Do we create trends?

LW: “We don’t create trends. They are all around us. I always say that the past and future are present – you just need to pick up the signals and analyse them. One of the things we do is separate isolated patterns from underlying cultural movements.”

How far out do we predict trends?

LW: “Each season, we look at these cultural movements and press pause. We see how they’ve evolved in the past six months and how they are likely to move in the years ahead. In doing so, we equip our clients with the entire context informing consumer behaviour, allowing them to proactively change before their consumer knows what they want, rather than react to their demands.”

What types of sources should I be looking at?
KM: “We look at diverse sources of inspiration to identify trends. From geopolitics to local subcultures, avant-garde artists to Instagram influencers, bio-technology to demographic shifts. Your eyes and ears have to be to the ground everywhere.”

Get the Anatomy of a Trend whitepaper to explore these ideas trough two of the largest movements of our time – Artisan and Wellness.


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