Every December my feeds and inbox gets swamped with messages stating what will be the hottest trends next year. This can feel quite overwhelming as these lists can showcase very different ‘trends’ (or not even trends at all).

Want to know what to do with these trend lists? Read on….



At the turn of the year trend lists and reports abound with captions like ‘The top 5 food trends for the coming year’ or ‘the 10 biggest not-to-miss tech trends for [include random year]’. Sounds familiar?

The trend charts at the turn of each year might have you wonder: do trends change on the 31st of December worldwide? Mmmm, that would be quite weird, right?

So let’s dissect these trend rankings.

When you look at the lists of trend predictions closer, most show specific trend manifestations, such as products, services, styles and so on. They state which of these will become ‘hot or not’ for the coming year.

Trend lists are often made for promotional reasons. The trend watcher, trend agency, or whoever the messenger is, wants to trigger you to take a look at their content. They also want it to be picked up by mass media and get hyped.

I know, because I’ve been in this game too. I’ve worked at several agencies where we would draft trend lists to publish and send them out to media peeps.

Below you can see one in Dutch which I made while working at youth communication agency YoungWorks. It is a list made at the end of 2008 about THE trends for youngsters in 2009. It appeared in a newspaper Metro. Yes people, the future of 2009 will be all about punk, Primark and mixtapes. 😇


lists of trend

No need to collect these reports yourself even. The past few years Amy Daroukakis, Iolanda Carvalho, Ci En L. and Gonzalo Gregori have been globally gathering all the latest look back/look forward trend reports in English. 



👉 Firstly, note that one manifestation of change is not yet a trend. Detecting signals of change is one task of a trend researcher. The next is to give meaning to these observations and try to understand what they reveal about the future.


👉 Also, many lists do not touch upon WHY people would want to adopt the listed signals. Why do people want to use, buy or embrace a certain innovation? What does it add to their quality of life? Which values does it link to and which needs does it meet? This obviously requires in-depth research which you’ll need to pay for.


👉 The time horizons of most reports don’t go further than a year. Trends do not appear or disappear yearly on the 31st of December. They slowly evolve over time. You should be able to use a trend overview for multiple years and tweak it a bit here and there over time.


​👉 And last but not least: many lists and reports don’t translate the listed signals or trends to your specific organisation, brand or challenge. It’s up to you to apply them to your specific context. Which is quite hard when you’ve not been doing the scanning and analysis yourself.



I feel that going through the trend research process at least once yourself will make you more equipped to assess these end of year trend lists and trend reports. It will help you to confidently ignore and curate their contents. What to look out for when scanning these trend trend reports? There are ways you can use these end-of-year trend overviews to your advantage.

  • Reference for your preferred trend style: Check the various ways the reports are communicating trends. What’s the textual style, how is it visually designed? When you start with setting up trend research in your organisation this can provide inspiration for your own trend work and on which agencies you might want to collaborate with.
  • Input for your trend database: Use the trend lists as an unconnected overview of interesting manifestations of potential trends. They function as a source (amongst many) for trend spotting and provide input for your trend database where you collect all your signals.
  • Input for your trend analysis: As a next step, you can add some of the signals on these lists as input for your trend analysis. You will still need to dissect the listed trendy innovations to understand what is happening beyond the surface. Checking out these trend lists can help you in finetuning your trend overview and find gaps in your own research.


Need help in structuring your trend work? I offer on-the-job guidance and coaching for individuals and teams.