How Do We Distinguish Between What’s Trendy And A Real Trend?

Trends share 4 common characteristics

Trendwatching is a big part of innovation work. For us, it’s important to distinguish between what’s trendy and a real trend. How do you do that?

Futurist Amy Webb, as part of her presentation on 2018 Emerging Tech Trends Report at SXSW, responded the question. According to her, trends share 4 common characteristics:

  1. Trends are driven by basic human needs. It’s not just about coming up with a cool idea.
  2. Trends are timely but they tend to persist over long periods of time. Which is why you see the same trends if you scan reports from 10 years ago to today.
  3. Trends evolve and they emerge,  they’re not static. Trends have dependencies, they evolve as they interact with consumers, businesses, government and regulation.
  4. Trends have dependencies and multiple points of convergence. They tend to materialize from the fringes, not in the mainstream; which is why they catch people and businesses by surprise.

Listen to Amy’s full presentation: