Op-Ed: Focusing Trends For Bigger Ideas

Op-Ed: Focusing Trends For Bigger Ideas

Macro trends are so broad that they are difficult to action against, but specific angles can truly differentiate a business, says PSFK founder Piers Fawkes

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 5 march 2018

Sometimes when I talk to executives at brand organizations I worry that they get distracted by the search for macro trends. There seems to be a real need to share larger STEEP themes with leadership to persuade them to sanction any innovation work.

The challenge is that macro trends are so broad that they are difficult to action against and, even when you do, it’s hard to defend an idea that has been developed against a theme that everyone else is tracking.

If you work for an organization that craves macro-trend reporting, think about how you can go about diving deeper into the mega theme to see angles that your company can leverage to create differentiated product, service and marketing experiences.  For example:

Instead of… New Old Age as a macro trend consider 2nd Stage. A woman who hits 50 today is expected to live to 94 years on average—almost another half of a life! Many of the over-50s are stronger, healthier and more connected than ever before. If you blend their wisdom, energy and creativity, their longevity promises a very productive second half of their lives. We spend too much time picturing this group as golden-age couples walking on beaches in sunsets, while alternative publications like Ageist celebrate a powerful consumer group that is never going to give up. How could your brand reconsider approaching the most economically powerful group in the United States?

Instead of… Urbanization consider the Rebirth of Towns. Masked by the data around populations returning to cities is the fact that people are also returning to smaller towns. Towns across the U.S. like Media, Pennsylvania and Beacon, New York are vibrant hubs that both young and older people are moving to. With this influx we see new jobs, new services, renewed culture and big ideas. What could these micro-urban centers mean for your brand?

Instead of… Delayed Adulthood consider Pets As Family Members. Young people are substituting pets for children. The whole pet industry is booming as millennials and boomers treat their dogs and cats like members of the family. In fact, many of the human trends in food and wellness are now mirrored in pets. For example, technology has also allowed “pet-parents” to interact with pets while they’re at work. What impact does this have on products like cars and mobility, I wonder?

Instead of… the Rise of Women (which is important but too broad to act against) consider the End of Gender. While previous generations continue fighting the good fight for equality, younger generations see gender and sexuality as fluid. In progressive industries like beauty and fashion, we’re witnessing the introduction of products that fit how someone identifies that day, as opposed to that life. What happens when we stop pursuing a sales and marketing dynamic of the male/husband researcher and female/wife decision-maker? How does that impact everything from design to path-to-purchase?

Try to see the angles in these broad themes or respond to micro trends that extend your brand in places where you haven’t been. And remember, PSFK is always here to help you workshop the reports in our collection. Just use the chat box to contact us.

Piers Fawkes is founder and editor-in-chief of PSFK.

Lead Image: Brainstorming via Shutterstock

+old age
+product experience

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