Few things have had as big of an impact on business in recent years as the concept of trend forecasting. With its ability to analyze fashion, technology and cultural trends, this key area of the media and marketing industries is dedicated to spotting patterns in consumer behavior and leveraging those insights to help brands connect with their audiences. To find out more about the ins and outs of trend forecasting and get advice on how to land a job in the field, we sat down with Sara Radin, a youth culture editor at WGSN, a trend forecasting company.
What is a trend forecaster?
A trend forecaster is responsible for identifying new trends and predicting how those trends will shape a certain industry. Usually based at a trend forecasting agency such as WGSN, trend forecasters are responsible for analyzing consumer data and coming up with recommendations based those insights. They also often travel to different cities across the country and around the world to spot new trends and get a sense of the broader impact of a product or idea.
Equal parts creative and analytical, trend forecasting relies on data analysis to uncover consumer patterns and then synthesizes those findings into reports. For some trend forecasters, like Sara, the reports take the form of articles that her clients can use to adjust their strategies when marketing to specific audiences. “Our clients use our guides as a resource for inspiration and research when designing a fashion collection,” she explains, emphasizing that the information they glean from her content allows clients to make informed decisions about their work.
What skills do you need in order to become a trend forecaster?
Since trend forecasting is both an analytical and a creative process, having a broad skill set is important for anyone interested in working in this field. Some of the most common skills for trend forecasters are:
Being able to analyze trends is a key part of this role and having strong analytical skills is the best way to ensure that you’re successful in this position.
In addition to strong analytical skills, trend forecasting also requires a sense of creativity. This is because you’ll need to be able to think outside the box when predicting the next big thing.
Knowledge of one or more industries
Since most trend forecasters are focused on multiple industries, being an expert on those industries is an incredibly important part of this role. The best way to get this knowledge is by doing your research on a particular industry and finding out what trends are currently showing up in news coverage and on social media.
Media savviness is a key component of any media or marketing role and it’s especially important when it comes to this field. This is because so many trends are shaped through the use of traditional and social media, so knowing how to spot those patterns in media coverage is a crucial part of staying ahead of the game.
How do you get started in the industry?
Since trend forecasting is a fairly new field, there aren’t really any long-established strategies for getting involved in the industry. However, doing a media or marketing internship can go a long way toward helping you develop some of the key skills required for the role. Beyond that, it’s about the projects and research you pursue on your own. “There are ways to get experience in the role, even if it isn’t part of your major,” says Sara, explaining that they key is to identify your passions and find a way to make marketable. For example, if you’re interested in fashion and have your own fashion blog, you can use your content as a portfolio when applying for a trend forecasting position. This will show employers that you’re already a player in the field and that you’re knowledgeable and passionate about sharing your insights with others.
For those who are interested in staying on top of the latest trends, trend forecasting can be an exciting and challenging career path. If you want to learn more about this role, we recommend taking on an internship and getting some valuable hands-on experience in a trend forecasting role.
Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 6 Things to Do in Your First Week at a New Job and find answers to common interview questions such as Are You Willing to Travel?