Nov 24, 2020 | By Nina Giglio
Big data meets consumer insights, Experience WGSN.
Our WGSN Mindset team are specialists in product and retails trends, offering a bespoke consultancy service from the world’s most trusted trend forecasters.
From fashion and beauty to food and drink, our experts have often sat on your side of the table, understanding your business from the inside to deliver actionable trend recommendations at the right time for you.
Danielle Testa, our Senior Mindset Consultant in North America, started working with us at WGSN just 6 months ago, and has quickly become acquainted with the rest of the team, from LA to London via countless video calls. Like many of our Mindset consultants, Danielle spent many years working within one of the industries we serve, in her case, working within the fashion teams at Topshop and Forever21.
We caught up with Danielle to get to know a bit more about her.
So Danielle, what were you up too before you joined the Mindset team at WGSN?
Directly before I joined, I was working on my Ph.D.! Before that, I worked in retail for many years. I have worked at brands such as Topshop and Forever 21. When I first told my friends in industry that I was going to pursue a Ph.D. it was a bit of a surprise, because it simply isn’t standard practice in retail to pursue a Ph.D., but for me and what I do now, it was a natural next step.
In industry, I would curate assortments for different countries and cultures, it is a very humanistic approach to product planning. Now I am able to better evaluate the interactions between people and products, with a real focus on people. At WGSN, I am able to combine my history as a Merchant, with my skills as a human scientist, and create really impactful and holistic projects for our Mindset clients. It’s spectacular!
Do the projects you work on during the work day often cross over with your personal interests?
There are so many ways my interests cross over, at a certain point, it becomes difficult to draw a line between personal and professional passions! Take mentoring; I am passionate about the importance and dualistic benefits of mentorship. This year WGSN launched the Future Makers mentoring program which I have been able to be a part of, and it has been such an amazing experience!
Every time I am intrigued by a new hobby I find myself questioning if it is a trend or an anomaly. For instance, I recently got really into Tae-Bo, for the second time in my life. So, being a researcher, I did a little research. It didn’t take long to realise I wasn’t the only one who was feeling nostalgic for some classic workout videos. Those realisations always lead me to think of the impact on my client’s businesses, “Who is this impacting? How? Why?”
In these shifts you’re tracking, is there a particular one you are excited to see come into fruition?
I am very excited about the impactful progress in sustainability. Which I dare say is both a shift and an innovation, especially when I see how brands are embracing opportunities!
I should clarify what I mean by sustainability. Years ago, during my M.A., I was hooked on a definition by John Ehrenfeld who defined sustainability as “the possibility that humans and other life will flourish on the Earth forever”. That balance of people and the planet, with a future-orientation, is how I think of sustainability. Right now, we are shifting to become more sustainable as a society. Significant shifts are occurring in the inclusivity and well-being of people. Simultaneously, environmental sustainability is being approached with broader awareness of its circularity.
Consumers and brands are dealing with so much right now, and yet we have all managed to make space in the global conversation for sustaining people and the environment.
Finally, how will what is going on in the world lead to an emergence of new kinds of brands?
To be honest, I love working with clients and every project is rewarding. One of my recent favourites would be working with the in-house design teams of a very large e-commerce platform in India. Over the last five years, I have travelled a great deal to India and find it not only a beautiful country to visit but very exciting working with creatives from a country so rich in culture and craft, and with a young demographic.
Looking forward, how do you think the industry will shift in changing times?
I am watching brands that are making personal connections with their consumers and prioritising well-being and mental health through their branding.
This pandemic will have lasting psychological impacts across generations. Millennials are experiencing their second recession, and they were living in “burnout culture” for the timespan in between. Then we have Gen Z, the second, and consecutive generation to be entering the workforce during challenging economic times. The mental health strains are very real, so these brands that are creating a space for comfort and support feel fresh. Simply put, they have created an improved iteration of retail therapy.
One brand that I have seen do this is MadHappy, the brand maintains the Local Optimist website which provides tools, strategies, and links to help their community manage their mental health and well-being.
You can meet other members of our Mindset team on the Insider blog.
To understand how consumers will think, feel and shop in the future, download our white paper Future Consumer 2022.
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