September 8, 2016
What is a Trend Forecaster?
If you’ve recently read an article about upcoming fashion trends or revolutionary technology products, then you’ve probably already come across the concept of trend forecasting. A popular component of the media and marketing industries, trend forecasting (also known as trend analysis) is designed to identify upcoming trends across a variety of different lifestyle areas such as fashion, technology and culture.
To find out more about trend forecasting and what it’s like to work in the field, we sat down with Sara Radin, a youth culture editor at WGSN, a trend forecasting company.
What does a trend forecaster do?
Although trend forecasting might seem a little bit like magic, it’s actually an analytical process that involves spotting patterns. In order to do this effectively, forecasters use consumer insights to predict what trends are most likely to have an impact on certain demographics. For Sara, who focuses on both fashion and culture trends, this means combining creativity and analysis to spot upcoming trends. Once she has an understanding of what those trends might be, Sara works with clients to develop strategies that will allow them to leverage those insights. “Our clients use us as a resource when they’re designing a fashion collection,” she explains, noting that the information her company provides helps clients optimize their products and develop their marketing strategies.
What are some of the most exciting aspects of a trend forecasting career?
Being on the cutting edge of new trends and technologies is one of the most exciting aspects of starting a career in this field. In fact, it comes with the potential of being an influencer, particularly if you’re an editor like Sara who is creating content that shapes how others see trends. Beyond the ability to shape public opinion and help companies define their consumer strategies, one of the other exciting aspects of this role is the exposure to new places and experiences. “Travel is a really big part of my job,” Sara says. “This year alone, I’ve gone to Montreal and Detroit and now I’m going to San Francisco, London and Miami. I would say that the best part of my job is that I get to have experiences that not only enrich the company but also enrich me.” By traveling to different areas of the country and the world, Sara has developed a great perspective on what’s trending in different places and she’s able to use that perspective when making recommendations to her clients.
What are some of the challenges trend forecasters face?
In our increasingly globalized world, trends come and go with lightning speed and staying ahead of them means that you’ll need to be knowledgeable about different trends and comfortable working in a constantly changing environment. Beyond the challenge of keeping up with the trends themselves, there are also other challenges such as those related to traveling extensively, working closely with a team and maintaining an unbiased and analytical perspective on what’s trending. For Sara, one of the biggest challenges is covering projects that are outside her key areas of interest. “A willingness to take one for the team and cover some things that may not be your passion is probably a big part of any job and I’m still grateful for those opportunities,” she says, emphasizing that those experiences add to her perspective while also making her a valuable asset to the company.
Trend forecasting is a great career option for those who are interested in staying ahead of the curve and passionate about helping others do the same. If you’re thinking about becoming a trend forecaster and want to learn more about the role, consider taking on an internship and getting some hands-on experience of what it’s like to work in this exciting field.