Trends matrix: an holistic view to relevant trends
Our next example of tools and framework is what we call the trends matrix. Before we actually start our advice focusing on consumer insights, which is always at the core of our work, and before we even build innovation or insights platforms for that matter, we always try to gain an understanding of what the trends are affecting an industry. The Trends Matrix offers a good helicopter view of the major trends affecting an industry.
The Trend Matrix is the sorting of trends into how they are affecting the industry and how they are related to each other. It is basically a matrix where on the vertical side, we identify the top macro trends which are typically technology, industry, people, government and culture related, and on the horizontal side, we look at the number of sub-dimensions which are relevant to the industry. This dimension can be declined in terms of a snapshot as past/present/future – what it used to be, what it is now, and what it is expected to be – or we could look at the number of elements which have influenced our industry, e.g., tools, services, experiences, research and information sources.
Once the Trend Matrix is structured for each one of the intersections between the trends and the aspects, we try to identify the best sources to collect the data on the cell: those include, but are not limited to, desk research, trendsetters’ interviews, or an experts report / paper. Each cell is usually summarised within a few lines, even though the big ground is a lot steeper than that, and we also identify whether the trend is growing, stable, or winding down. For example, in the beer industry, we are definitely looking at the impact of craft beers on the rural industry. We determine whether the trend is growing, stable or going down, and we are looking into how social adaption is driving this trend. Basically, we are trying to identify how different consumer targets are topping, accelerating and fuelling certain trends in comparison to other trends.
We then fill the matrix with each relevant trend. So, we do the research, we do the interviews, whether that is desk research or database research (it depends on what we are talking about), and then we fill it. We try to identify a link between each one of the cells, which are an intersection of a macro-trend and an aspect, and other adjacent or non-adjacent cells, which might actually be impacting the cells themselves. So, in other words, we determine whether a specific consumer trend of technology service is driven by a social-cultural aspect, or vice versa, if an emerging social aspect is driven by technological opportunities. We have also seen this in our research on ‘The Blur’, where technological convergence is actually impacting convergence at a social and cultural level in our lifestyles.
The last step, of course, is to step back, identify the relationships, and capture the insights. This is done by looking into what the possible overlays are on the matrix, the growing, stable, winding down and upcoming trends, the past versus the present, or how various macro-trends are affecting different parts of the industry.
In conclusion, the Trends matrix not only helps organise an overview of the trends, but it also makes it natural to identify connections and possible directions that are important for us to look at.