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Why Trend Predictions Suck (And How To Fix Them)

The first time I wrote about trends, I was inspired by bullshit.

I remember reading an article with a headline that promised “5 Trends That Will Change The Future.” The first trend on the list was “Mobile Usage Will Continue To Rise.” That was the moment when I understood deeply why so many people mistrust trend predictions.

As I dug deeper, I started to discover that there are actually three reasons why most trend predictions are so bad:

  1. They are self serving. The only people declaring 2020 to be “the year of [your product here]” are the content marketers from the companies that sell that product.
  2. They are obvious. It is undeniably true that mobile usage will indeed continue to rise. So what? Many trend predictions take pains to point out the perfectly obvious.
  3. They aren’t actionable. Even trend predictions that seem good lack the next level of insights to make them useful in real life.

Back in 2011 I wrote my first “Non-Obvious Trend Report,” spotlighting 15 trends that year which I thought were changing the world of marketing and social media. Over the following several years, I expanded the report to include trends about culture, technology, media and education. In the process, I discovered the answer to my own question about how to make trend predictions better.

The secret to predicting the future is getting better at paying attention to and understanding the accelerating present.

It’s hard to believe, but that was ten years ago and over the last several months I’ve been working on the research for the tenth annual edition of my trend predictions — called Non-Obvious Megatrends. Unlike previous years, this year’s book will be a bit different. For the first time, I’m taking a look back over the past ten years of research and it all started with a sorting exercise using my signature “Haystack Method” to group similar trends together. Here’s a time lapse video of that:

Over the next several months, I’ll be sharing more about the process leading up to publication of the book in January, 2020. In the meantime, if you want to get an early look at the book and get new non-obvious ideas in your inbox every Thursday, make sure to join my email newsletter list here:

PS – If you want to take a deeper look inside my Haystack Method approach and how it works, check out this feature article about my process.

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#1 WSJ & USAToday Bestselling Author

Rohit is the author of 8 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.

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