Futures NY: 4 strategic questions that brands should ask to guarantee success in 2018

Earlier this month, WGSN kicked off its Futures New York summit to address some of the biggest questions and trends in business. We gathered a stellar line up, from Levi’s to Glossier, as well as our global directors on the stage to explore the key global trends that will affect the world tomorrow. The location was extra special as well, held at the Museum of Modern Art, and finishing the day with a private tour of the current exhibition called Items: Is Fashion Modern? the first fashion exhibition held there in over 70 years, which we’re proud partners of.

So what did we learn from the day of informative talks and panel discussions? Here’s 4 things your brand needs to ask to be successful in 2018 and beyond.

Are you putting yourself firmly in the customer’s shoes?

“What we’re experiencing is not a retail apocalypse but a retail transformation,” said Sidney Morgan-Petro, WGSN’s senior retail and buying editor. “We no longer operate in a transactional market.” Adding incentive to in-store experiences and being mindful of societal shifts is the future of a bricks-and-mortar-based business’s success. Customers want to discover products themselves and talk about it with their friends. Thinking about what the future of being a customer means, Henry Davis, COO and president of Glossier, said “It’s about peer-to-peer, it’s about friends telling friends. It’s about working together and it’s about brands being part of that community, not top-down preaching,“ said Davis.

Do you have a CEO who is both robust and flexible enough for our ever-changing world?

“The CMO is in the hot seat,” said WGSN’s Sarah Owen. Considering 50% of CEO’s see the CMO as the key person expected to drive positive disruption in a business, brand leaders are often held accountable for success or failure. The average tenure of CMOs in the US now stands at 18 months, an indication that talent must perform or risk being forced out of their post, and that new skill sets and attitudes are driving this fast-changing job role. Brands are adopting new names for the CMO role to better define the tasks and expectations of these individuals. Coca-Cola followed in the footsteps of Colgate and Mondelez, replacing its CMO with a chief growth officer. “They’re essentially organising for transformation,” said Owen.

Are you investing in the health and wellbeing of your employees?

Alain Sylvain, founder and CEO at Sylvain Labs argued that “we are losing the concept of what it actually means to be well.” Well-being has become a luxury – spending on extra indulgences for self-care and mindfulness is an “unapologetic self-indulgence that prioritises yourself in way that borders on selfishness.” Well-being 2.0, he said, is about shifting from inward looking to outward looking, from elitist to democratic. To remain relevant, Sylvian showcased principles for brands to lead change: treat employees well; deliver actionable tools for empowerment; inspire through leadership and take a political stance; use strategic partnerships for a sense of community; and deliver real impact for real results.

How does your product engage with consumer’s feelings (at time where an emotional connection has never been more important)?

In the age of anxiety, consumers don’t just crave having new experiences, but new emotions too. Walking through six emotions – joy, calm, curiosity, belonging, comfort and discomfort – WGSN’s Lisa White showcased how innovative brands are creating experiences that heighten their consumer’s state of mind, appealing to their emotions and feelings, not just their wallets.


Know what’s next. Become a WGSN member today to benefit from our daily trend intelligence, retail analytics, consumer insights and bespoke consultancy services.

WGSN Insider Bulletin

Big data meets consumer insights, Experience WGSN.

Related Stories

See you at Cannes Lions

Cannes Lions 2019: the WGSN talks you must see

WGSN Beauty

Beauty and the packaging beast

Self-care is homeward bound