9 Ways to Build
Get your team to SEE what’s
next, ACT on it, and WIN!
GLOBAL TREND BRIEFING
We know: you’re smart.
After all, you read our Trend Briefings ;)
There’s nothing we need to tell you about how trends
work, how to spot them, or other aspects of being an
INSTANT TREND EXPERT.
But successful organizations don’t win by spotting a
single trend, no matter how game-changing it is. From
long-established behemoths such as General Electric to
recently emerged giants such as Tencent, organizations
win because they build a trend-driven culture that can
spot where consumer expectations are heading next, and
innovate to meet those emerging expectations, time after
time. That takes more than an individual - it takes a culture.
So where can your organization start? With YOU!
Can your organization
see around corners?
We know YOU get trends. But that’s
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The most powerful cultural dimension of a trend-driven
organization is its inclusiveness. That means everyone is
empowered to spot trends and act on them.
Of course, that doesn’t happen by magic. But it’s easier than
you think to start building an intensely powerful culture of
trend-driven innovation. In this Briefing we give a step-
by-step guide to building that culture. First, we’ll look at
INTERNAL AFFAIRS: building a great internal trend culture.
Next, EXTERNAL ECOSYSTEMS: how to fuel your trend
culture by building connections to the outside world.
It’s up to you to adapt this roadmap to suit your needs,
then run with it! That will transform your organization’s
ability to create game-changing new brands, products, and
campaigns. And it won’t do your career any harm, either ;)
Be your organization’s
Soak up the awe and respect of
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Build a culture that allows you to spot and apply
trends, time after time.
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The first step to building an awesome trend
culture? Make sure everyone understands
the three building blocks of any trend.
There are three building blocks that come together to create
any consumer trend: (i) basic needs, (ii) drivers of change
and (iii) innovations.
New trends emerge when drivers of change –
technological, social, economic and more – unlock new
ways of serving basic human needs, such as connection,
safety, value, fun (the list is endless). And you can see that
happening when you track game-changing innovations that
address basic needs in a new way.
To build a trend-driven culture, you need to embed these
three building blocks deep in your organizational psyche.
Then encourage colleagues to keep a constant look out for
new products, services and campaigns and ask: does this
innovation address a basic need in a new way? What new
expectations could it create? What do those expectations
mean for US?
How to do that? Keep reading!
Basic Needs. Drivers of
If your colleagues aren’t sick of hearing
about these, you haven’t repeated them
often enough ;)
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Once your colleagues understand trends, you
need to ignite their enthusiasm and keep it
One sure-fire way to get trends on the agenda in your
organization? Announce the date of YOUR first trend
The aim is to update your colleagues on a handful of
trends that should be on their radar. But also to convince
them that trends are a must-have part of how your
organization creates new brands, products and services,
For each trend, briefly outline the relevant drivers of change
and basic human needs. Share between three and six
innovations that show the trend in action, and ask: what
new expectations are these innovations creating? And most
importantly of all, finish on a Lightbulb Moment: what can
WE do with this!?
After that, you need to develop regular practises that inspire
a culture of trends. Try creating an internal newsletter; create
innovation screensavers to display on screens in your office;
use social networks; put up physical posters.
Whatever works to prove to your colleagues that trend
watching is easy, fun, and everyone’s responsibility!
Ready to channel your
inner trend rockstar?
Give an awesome trend presentation –
and then keep the pressure on!
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It’s not enough to just share ideas. You need
collaborative action, too.
The whole point of trends is to inspire, validate and help you
launch successful new innovations. So a trend-driven culture
must include action to innovate around trends and bring new,
trend-led products, services and campaigns to market.
Day-to-day, most people focus on the successful execution
of their daily activities, leaving little time for innovation.
But if you’re going to be your organization’s trend
champion, it’s up to you and colleagues who are already
on board to build a platform on which collaboration can
happen. Remember to sell the personal benefit to your
colleagues: a culture of trend-driven collaboration will
ultimately make everyone’s work lives more meaningful,
enjoyable and effective.
A platform for collaboration can take many forms – the right
one depends on the nature, practises and shape of your
organization. See below how global media company PHD
approached this challenge.
Create a shared platform
Trend-driven innovation is faster, more
effective and more fun if you do it
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Now it’s time to unleash the disruptive
innovator hidden inside every colleague.
In a perfect world, your colleagues would be not only
spotting trends continuously, but also implementing the new
trend-led products, services and campaigns that could be
your next (or first!) breakthrough hit.
But for the most part, your colleagues are busy with
business as usual. And the only innovations they’ll come up
with in their day-to-day work are incremental changes on
what you’re already doing.
Empowering colleagues to become disruptive innovators
won’t happen by accident – it takes focused action. One
compelling way is via specific programs or competitions,
where staff can propose, pitch and launch new
Whatever you run with, aim for short bursts of focus and
excitement that interrupt ‘business as usual’. And when
thinking about how to reward colleagues that engage,
remember that recognition and a sense of having made a
difference can be even more important than material prizes.
Make it your job to
interrupt your colleagues.
Because the innovation that
changes everything won’t come via
business as usual.
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Inside your organization, but also outside
You can, and should, do everything in your power to create
a culture of trend-driven innovation in your organization. But
one truth remains: it’s hard to think truly radical thoughts
when you’re coming to the same office, seeing the same
people, and facing the same day-to-day challenges.
One answer? Create separate, specific units outside your
core organization that have innovation as their focus.
Call them labs, skunkworks, whatever: the point is that
being separated from the core – and granted a mission
of creative destruction – enables these units to shake
off organizational convention, be more daring in their
thinking, and experiment with, execute and deploy new
ideas faster. What’s more, they’ll help you attract a broader
range of creative thinkers.
Of course, the key here is getting senior management buy-
in. No one said being a trend champion would be easy!
You could start by showing them how labs have worked
successfully for other brands – such as Westfield (see below).
You know how you have
all your best ideas out of
Take a team, give them a home, and set
them free to experiment.
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70 person division pursues compelling retail
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Feed your trend culture with external inspiration,
ideas and opportunities.
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An awesome trend culture can’t stop at
the door. You need to build connections far
beyond your office walls.
Just as sharing information between colleagues is vital
for an awesome trend culture, so too is sharing with and
learning from those who are not part of your organization.
Indeed, consumer expectations accelerate so rapidly and
creative destruction is so rampant that no organization can
expect to keep up simply by relying on its own people.
There’s a whole world of ideas, insights and experience
out there – tap it! Digital technologies offer an incredible
opportunity to build and engage with super-smart people
on a global scale, at low cost. Organize your platform around
a shared interest (such as consumer trends), or even around a
specific trend (see the Crowd Companies example, below).
And yes, we’ve been tapping the collective wisdom
of thousands of trend spotters for years via the
TrendWatching Insight Network (TW:IN). What, you mean
you’re not already a member?
Make EVERYONE your
Or at least invite them in. Hey, it
works for us ;)
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You don’t have a monopoly on smart
people. Just saying.
Reality check: no matter how large or compelling your
organization, most of the smartest people will still be
working for someone else. That’s the idea that underpins
‘open innovation’ – a term coined by Henry Chesborough, a
professor at the Haas School of Business, in 2003.
Open innovation encompasses many approaches,
but the central idea is simple: to create compelling
innovations, seek external inputs when innovating. A
2014 Haas Business School study showed that 78% of
large companies were now engaged in some form of open
So think about competitions intended to engage entirely
new people in your innovation efforts – see below
how platform eYeka leverages that idea – as well as
communities that bring diverse individuals together and
platforms that empower other innovators and bring their
products and services into your ecosystem.
If you ask them, they
Leverage the power of the crowd by
opening up your innovation efforts.
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eYeka & Unilever
Global brand leverages global community of
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Share physical space with other
organizations to get access to new people
Online collaboration is great (and necessary). But physical
proximity still counts.
One thing that larger, incumbent organizations frequently
have is a surplus of physical space – or the resources
to provide it. So why not share that space with smaller
startups, creative communities, and individuals who can
share their ideas and processes with you? Or if you’re
a small outfit, how about looking around for a large
organization that would make a great home, or consider a
The Hatch example (below) demonstrates how large
organizations can ride the co-working trend, to the mutual
benefit of themselves and the teams they house.
Empty desk, meet
Give your spare desk space to some
smart outsiders. Or BE the outsiders
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3Space & Barclays: Hatch
Co-working space focused on social
enterprises and community groups
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Because you can’t out innovate everyone,
all the time.
Another way for your organization – especially if yours is a
large incumbent – to ride new waves of consumer trends?
Nurture, partner with and invest in the very startups that
threaten to disrupt you.
By lending startups your resources, expertise and
experience, you can help them refine their proposition and
scale. And when they do this inside your walled garden,
you both reap the benefits.
Especially in the non-digital world, where production
and distribution at scale pose serious operational
challenges, partnerships can be very attractive for smaller
organizations. However, even startups with a digital product
can often be seduced by the resources and large existing
customer bases of incumbents, as Telefónica’s Wayra
program (below) shows.
If you can’t beat them...
...why not nurture, accelerate, fund and
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PHEW, CAN I GET A
SUMMARY OF ALL THAT?
Sure, here’s a recap.
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1. DEFINE: make sure everyone understands the three
building blocks of any trend – basic needs, drivers of
change and innovations.
2. INSPIRE: once your colleagues understand trends,
light a fire of trend enthusiasm with an awesome trend
presentation – and keep it burning!
3. COLLABORATE: it’s not enough only to share ideas, you
need to take collaborative action, too.
4. EMPOWER: unleash the disruptive innovator hidden inside
5. LABS: take a team, give them a home, and set them free
Build a culture of spotting and applying
trends, time after time.
BUILD A TREND CULTURE 34www.trendwatching.com/trends/build-a-trend-culture
6. NETWORK: an awesome trend culture means building
connections beyond your office doors – so make
EVERYONE your trendwatcher.
7. CROWDSOURCE: leverage the power of the crowd by
opening up your innovation efforts.
8. HOUSE: share physical space with other organizations to
get access to new ideas and new people.
9.VENTURE: nurture and invest in the startups that threaten
to disrupt your organization.
Feed your trend culture with external
inspiration, ideas and opportunities.
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SO GET BUILDING!
You’re already deep in planning for 2016 – make
sure trends are a part of it!
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You can’t go it alone.
You can only be a lone trend champion for
so long. In the end, it will be about getting
buy-in from colleagues, including senior
management. So start practising your
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We can help!
An awesome trend culture has to be fueled
by a constant stream of trend and innovation
content – and tools to apply them.
Our Premium Service will tick that box, at
a ridiculously affordable price! Leaving you
more time and capacity to do what only YOU
can – create your next killer product, service
If you have any comments, suggestions
or questions then please do let us know.
Head of Client Services
Established in 2002, trendwatching.com
is the world’s leading trend firm, scanning
the globe for the most promising consumer
trends, insights and related hands-on
business ideas. Our Premium Service counts
many of the world’s leading brands as
clients, while our free monthly Trend Briefings
go out to over 260,000 subscribers in 180
More at www.trendwatching.com