How to assess the trend lifecycle
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Trend adoption

Innovation inherently comes with risk. Great innovators know how to minimise this risk and when it comes to identifying trends, this risk minimisation skill is equally important.

Let's face it, no one wants to invest all their time and energy into developing a new product or service for a short-lived fad. Before we move on, let's check in as to what a trend is and why they are so important.

When we hear the word "trend", we can often think of a "fashion trend", that is, something that pops up for a few seasons and then disappears. Trends, however, can be long-term and roll on for many years. This not only happens in fashion, but in technology, cultural trends, the economy and many other areas.

In short, in the world of business, we are looking to identify trends that will disrupt the business environment enough so that it provides a new opportunity to create new products and services and even possibly create a new market.

If the word "trend" doesn't work for you, then why not call them "disruptors". As many of us have a preventative motivational focus (a preference for avoiding pain and loss), this word may work better for you. In fact, when we look into trends, we can think of three components: uncertainties, disruptors and trends.

We want to identify the key uncertainties that could impact our customers and business. We want to identify what disruptors are arising, the impacts they might have and then finally the specific trends that are emerging around or from these drivers and uncertainties.

If you're starting to freak out thinking you just signed up for a PHD dissertation, relax, we'll make it easy for you.

Before we move on, what's a fad? A fad is something that people thought would be a trend that would stick around, but then they lost interest in it too quickly. If anyone is old enough, you might have heard of the pet rock fad that hit the world. Yes, pet rocks, essentially they were small rocks given a set of eyes, and a mouth. They came in one day and out the next. This is what we want to avoid at all costs. Throwing our resources behind a fad is enough to blacklist you from innovating forever.

Let's get down to business. Here's how we can go about assessing a trend.

There are 5 phases to a trend.

  1. Dawning - an emerging trend that is just starting to rear it's head
  2. Developing - a trend that is gaining momentum and is being developed by various parties both from a user/ customer and from a supplier/ innovator
  3. Developed - a trend that is fully fledged and has hit mainstream interest
  4. Decaying - a trend that has done it's time and is becoming "old' in the mind of user or customer
  5. Discarded - a trend that is no longer in demand and has been superseded by something more exciting, superior, different or by adding new value

Obviously we don't want to be starting to work with a fully developed, decaying or discarded trend. That means we need to find either a dawning trend or early stage developing trend, anything else and we're going to be too late, that is unless we are thinking of adapting a trend from one industry to another.

Either way, we need to know how to scan the world for these dawning trends as well as potential disruptors and being mindful of the key uncertainties that may arise.


We'd love to hear how you go with this, please ping us a message to let us know about your success. 

You might want to find out more about the trends and futurist strategies for your organisation by coming to one of our events, reading our book - Innovation Archetypes - Principles for world-class innovation, or completing one of our online programs.

Thanks for reading. 


Nils Vesk

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About Nils Vesk

He's the founder of Ideas With Legs.

His  clients call him a Reinvention Renegade. Nils Vesk is an international authority on innovation and the inventor of the ‘Innovation Archetypes Process’.

Around the globe, leading companies such as Nestle, HP & Pfizer turn to Nils to share his proven innovation techniques for formulating commercial insights, ideas, extraordinary customer experiences and irresistible products.

Nils unpacks the million-dollar innovation principles used to create rapid growth for the future.

Nils is the author of a number of books including "Ideas With Legs - How to Create Brilliant Ideas and Bring Them to Life", and "Innovation Archetypes - Principles for World Class Innovation".

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