Our culture is changing faster than ever, and bridging the domains of consumer insights, strategy, and innovation has become a critically important challenge. Perhaps it’s no surprise that business leaders look to trends when responding to the mandate to identify what’s new, what’s next, and what’s disruptive. As globalization has become a permanent reality of culture and marketplaces, this mandate has only increased in its importance and scope.

While we at The Hartman Group agree that a focus on Trends & Foresight, on both a local and global scale, is well-placed, we also believe that it represents far more than simply identifying what’s next.

What we mean when we talk about trends

Most simply defined, trends are patterns of cultural change. This simple phrase contains multitudes. But at its core is a key truth that guides our approach to Trends & Foresight: That meaningful trends work is not simply identifying what’s novel (be it products, behaviors, cultural artifacts, business models, etc.); nor is it peering into a crystal ball to predict the future. We believe the future isn’t just something that happens; it emerges from human systems and human decisions. Therefore, we focus on describing cultural shifts to identify pathways and possibilities. We’re also just as interested in knowing what won’t change and the enduring consumer needs and motivations that trends ladder up to. All of this requires deep cultural work, powered by semiotics, to combine big-picture thinking with nuanced attention to detail, and stringing together what could otherwise be overlooked as abstract threads to interpret the deeper significance of shifts in consumer behavior and marketplaces.

Our process of linking the macro with the micro reveals patterns in how the world is changing around us and how people and companies are both creating and responding to that change. When business leaders and marketers are armed with this perspective, it sharpens their view of the future, helping them identify areas of demand and informing when, where, and how they can seize emerging growth opportunities.

In a way, it all comes back to trends

Our point of view about trends means that, in a way, all The Hartman’s Group work — even point-in-time primary research — ladders up to this bigger, longer-range objective of understanding patterns of change. Understanding what’s happening with consumers and with culture right now helps us know where the future is headed. That said, when clients come to us with the express need for a future-looking perspective, we activate our system of cultural analytics, tools and methods to provide bespoke Trends & Foresight that is human-centered and culture-led.

Keep the culture conversation going

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THG Trends and Foresight THG Semiotics cover THG Global Case study
Learn More About Our Approach Contextualize Trends with Semiotics Case Study: Global Trends Framework