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Impassioned guest lecture Victoria Foster has trends on her mind

Earlier this week, she flew to London and Paris. Her next stops will be Amsterdam and Oslo, among other places. On Friday, she came to Tilburg. As guest teacher of the year, Victoria Foster talked about her activities as a trend watcher in front of roughly three hundred students of International Lifestyle Studies. The internationally orientated company ACI hot spot London belongs to the best of the best of worldwide trendwatching agencies, says Foster. The reason is that TrendWatching has amply earned its stripes since its launch in 2002.

The way in which we all deal with trends has changed in the course of the last decade. TrendWatching, which was founded thirteen years ago by Dutchman Reinier Evers, has obviously followed suit. Sporting offices in London, New York, Sao Paolo, Singapore, and Lagos, the agency infiltrates the fabric of our society even more deeply, by picking up on trends as early as possible, according to Victoria Foster. These are not just any kind of trends. TrendWatching does not focus on fashion, for example, or technological novelties, but rather on consumer's basic needs. “There is a huge gap between what consumers want, and what they get,” says Foster.

What are the expectations, and how can companies deal with those expectations? TrendWatching attempts to answer these questions.

Microsoft, H&M, Coca Cola, Vodafone, Schiphol, and Volvo: a small selection from over 1200 customers who flocked to TrendWatching over the past decade. They eagerly employ data gathered by the agency. To get these data, trendWatching uses over

three thousand spotters, who 'read' society from all over the world. Some of these spotters are (former) ILS students, Foster reported. She is resposible for the company network. “Trends are always on my mind,” she says. “My eyes and ears are always open. Can I let go, at night? No, it's a continuum. My work and my personal life are interconnected, to be honest. I don't mind. I learn so many things, and I enjoy it. But sometimes, I do have difficulties explaining to my friends what I do exactly,” she adds with a smile.

The students, who are deeply involved in trend watching and trend analysis during their training, listened intently to the trends lecture, held as an introduction to her guest lectureship. Foster explained four important consumer trends for 2016: Status Test, Contextual Omnipresence, Lifestream Prisoners, and Two-Way Transparency. Status Test shows that we tend to derive our status from experience nowadays, rather than property. The Lifestream Prisoners trend offers consumers exclusive access to music or films, for example. Research has shown that young people in Poland don't exercise much, for instance. A special app grants them access to the latest music, but only while they're working out. Twitter, facebook, television, print media: the Contextual Omnipresence trend emphasizes that companies have to be present on every platform, these days. But presence alone is not enough. It has to contain extra value. Customers of Domino's, for example, can order their pizzas over Twitter now. An app for their smartwatch lets them know how long it will take for their pizza to be delivered. The Two-Way Transparency trend is based on reviews placed all over the internet by consumers. Why not turn this into two-way traffic? In the future, companies will also begin to review their customers in order to respond to unjust, and sometimes rude comments.

No guest lecturer has granted insight into the world of trend watching before; one of the core activities of ILS, along with concepting. Foster exhibited a striking amount of flair while inundating the ILS students in trends. It did not only demonstrate her own passion, but also, subconsciously, revealed the contemporary character of TrendWatching. During a second guest lecture, scheduled for Thursday, April 14, Victoria Foster will talk about her own motivation. The ILS students will also, once again, have ample opportunity to present their questions to their guest lecturer.

Photos: Natalie Leeuwenberg &

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