Don’t Get Lost in Trendslation

People pay attention to trends, whether they realize it or not. A passing glance at fashion magazines in any grocery checkout lane will expose us to dozens of active trends. Unfortunately, by the time the average person becomes fully aware of a trend, it may already be peaking – or even in decline.

To utilize trends for growth, businesses need to leverage them while they are still emerging. But that’s easier said than done. Engaging relevant trends for your business is a challenge, and requires both a broad view of where your business fits into the world as a whole, and an intuitive understanding of how active trends are influencing that world right now. It isn’t so much about identifying the trend, but figuring out what to do with it once you have.

That’s where experts can help. For example, our experts translate trends in a way that uncovers opportunities where brands can better serve the people they touch, inevitably helping them build business too, and making the world a little better for all of us.

Of course, approaches to sensing, analyzing, and synthesizing trends can be quite proprietary. But, going forward, every few months, COHO and I will showcase some of our non-confidential trend thinking (a.k.a. “trendslation”), in hopes of inspiring you and your business to think more breaking-edge, bigger, and better.


We take a stepped and focused approach with trends, working downward from mega-trend, to human nature, to category & products, to individual consumers.


Mega-trends are large shifts – social, economic, environmental, technological, etc. They are slow to form, long to remain, and act as drivers of change on a tectonic level. We constantly watch for, research, and connect the dots across wide ranging information points, in order to keep up with and predict the boundaries and movements of current mega-trends.

KPMG’s Future State 2030 projection, showing how mega-trends can broadly be grouped into themes, reflecting changes in the status and expectations of individuals, changes in the global economy, and changes in the physical environment.


In relation to their needs, people often act in predictable ways. Psychologist Abraham Maslow’s 1943 paper, “A Theory of Human Motivation”, provides an understanding and hierarchy of human needs, and sheds light on what may motivate consumer behavior. These motivations, paired with a current mega-trend, helps us understand why consumers may seek out and adopt certain trends, but not others.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in Psychological Review.


We then look for specific relevance within the category we are working. For example, climate change in context of the facial tissue category, could manifest itself as Nordic print & pattern package designs that are inspired by the Scandinavian region. This could be due to more people traveling to the north of Europe in an age of glacial melting, and therefore people gaining more exposure to these cultures (in 2016, Sweden reported a rise in tourism of 60%).

An example of a COHO Creative design trends report page.

And finally, we identify evidence or artifacts of this trend in relation to the consumer we are addressing. Proof usually begins to appear years before the true impact of a trend presents itself. Key is to recognize what is happening early enough, so there is time to leverage the trend (if appropriate), and to influence the market and/or consumer behavior.


It is critical to build this foundational knowledge before jumping onto the trend bandwagon! Only after we understand the causal mechanisms of “Why?” a trend is influencing consumers, can we then identify “How” to leverage it within applicable territories, and be fully prepared to deliver “What” these consumers need & want – with highly relevant, breakthrough, and credible ideas for your brand and business.

Translating trends. It’s just another way we help brands win, their audience thrive, and life get a little better for everyone.

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