How to Predict the Future with WGSN Insight’s Trend Forecaster Laura Saunter
Haley Crawford contributed to this story.
The woman who predicted the millennial pink craze, Laura Saunter, trend forecaster and senior strategist for WGSN Insight, is an expert at detecting cultural shifts. A former student of French language and literature at the University of Oxford, Saunter has always been a diligent researcher and cultural observer, with a keen interest in connecting the dots between the societal changes she detects.
One of the world’s most important trend forecasting agencies, WGSN has rarely gone wrong in predicting a cultural shift. His team of more than 250 global forecasters, based everywhere from São Paulo to Melbourne to London, read a combined total of 800 blogs per day and observe changes in consumer behavior in stores, attending music festivals and lectures on retail (pre-Covid), and keeping a close eye on patterns, whether it’s the colors in a store’s locker room or the tone of voice used in the brand’s messaging.
From migratory and geopolitical shifts to local subcultures and artists, the big and small changes in our world combine to shape consumer behavior and sentiment, and the WGSN team is here to experience these currents first.
“Anytime you see something that relates to what you’re following, you join the dots in your head,” Saunter explained of their process. “Then you realize that it becomes a movement – with the way it evolves and how people embrace it – and that’s how you start to identify and write about a trend.”
A forecaster’s instinctive sense of where retail and consumers are headed is a unique talent supported by being all eyes and ears. The ability to think creatively and pick up subtle clues while tabulating the numbers of certain changes is essential in determining where the world will be next month or two years from now.
“We combine intuition, or that ‘magical experience’, with hard data,” Saunter said. “We say part of it is art, science, math and magic.”
By tracking changes in our societal needs and preferences, WGSN serves businesses by identifying how and when they should be trending. For example, after accelerating the movement towards less visible consumption after the 2008 financial crisis, the team traced our collective progress towards wellness, athleticism and the green juice mania as a new form of behavior in the field of green juice. ‘purchase.
“We take a look at these signals and illustrate how businesses can embrace and implement them to stay on the right side of culture, consumers and movements,” Saunter said. “We identify trends before they reach critical mass. In doing so, we help businesses take advantage of unlimited potential for future growth. “
The team of trend forecasters also brings their Midas touch to the table by advising brands on prime time to activate certain changes based on given cultural shifts.
“Filtering out the trends in your own brand’s DNA and figuring out how you can hit them on the curve is really important,” Saunter said. “Are you one of the early adopters, are you an innovator, or are you lagging behind? It’s about finding the right place, the right time to innovate for your customer. What we’re trying to do is educate brands on how they can implement the trends in the right place at the right time. “
Saunter’s specific role as an expert on the retail and consumer landscape makes him a key player in the Insight team, which serves as the backbone of the business and is a point of reference for all fashion, beauty and other forecasters. A personal prediction of hers that has become even more relevant throughout the pandemic and which has fed into the advice other teams have provided to designers, buyers, and more is the emergence of the ‘market for’. mood”.
In a hectic world, consumers are increasingly in touch with their emotions and need products, services and spaces with which they can connect on an authentic emotional level. Saunter anticipated this demand and thus enabled brands to improve their methods of connecting with customers.
“In 2017 it was a really emerging idea, but now it’s become a mainstay,” Saunter said. “We have seen a massive shift towards mindful selling. It’s about how retailers can tap into mental wellness to create more human and personal connections through design, merchandising and messaging as we move towards an emotion-driven economy. Leveraging mood creates more memorable shopping experiences and therefore more loyal customers. “
By helping retailers lead their customers to meaningful transactions, Saunter and the WGSN team are paving the way for a better future for buyers and brands.