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If you are finding that your ideas network is throwing up similar ideas, even in response to different challenges or from diverse areas of your business, you may be well on your way to discovering a hot new trend.

In a fascinating new series “Trend Tips and Tools”, trendwatching.com has lifted the lid on how they spot up and coming trends. They identify three elements that drive trends:

  1. Basic Needs – from food to fun, it’s what people need
  2. Drivers of Change – both long term shifts in behaviour and short-term/immediate trigger events or factors
  3. Consumer-facing innovations that make the original innovation accessible and sellable

The team at Trendwatching suggest that “TRENDS EMERGE AS INNOVATORS ADDRESS PEOPLE‚ÄôS BASIC HUMAN NEEDS AND WANTS IN NOVEL WAYS.” So, they look for innovations already out there for consumers that start to define (or redefine) what people want. These inevitably include products and services that are currently niche but reveal a direction in which people may head as a result.

The result is the “Sweet Spot of Customer Expectations”. It’s a clever and concise way of expressing the interaction between the results of the three elements overlapping, and what a trend-setting product or service might look (or feel) like.

The Guide then continues by illustrating how the trendwatching team used this model to identify two hot trends, by identifying the fundamental principles behind often quite different products and services, across various market sectors.

What strikes you immediately is that this involves a quite different mindset than the diagram might suggest. It involves truly thinking out of the box, finding (presumably) hundreds of examples of innovation and current experiences and drawing out the common themes between them, to create a suspected trend.

For business owners, that involves not only analysing what the competition are doing, but also what the sector, and completely different sectors are doing. As a single exercise it would be immensely daunting, but by using social collaboration, it might become a whole lot easier.

By drawing together the experiences and discoveries of your entire staff, trends may emerge that no-one might have foreseen otherwise. If you can then tailor a product or service to this rising trend, it can propel you to the crest of that trend wave, rather than be paddling along behind it.