Trend research and concept development are deeply intertwined in our education. The combination of in depth trend research and concept development gives our students an advance: using trends to design real on the spot concepts, that can make sure your company knows how to react to innovations in the market.
We will give a glimpse on the basics of trend research and how it is taught at International Lifestyle Studies.
How do we define trend research?
We think trend research is the study of change. Our students are looking for signals that indicate patterns of change. These patterns of change show that people’s needs and wants are shifting in specific directions. We call these patterns trends.
The trends are driven by global forces and are visible in our society by a certain style, language, behaviour or possibly a new service. These manifestations can be spotted amongst specific mentality groups in society who are setting the trend or embracing it in an early stage.
Why do we teach trend research?
Trend research is centred around curiosity and finding an answer to why change happens. It can be seen as researching change in a systematic way in order to pinpoint new directions of change. With this output, companies and governments are able to adapt their strategies and become future proof. There you have it, the purpose of trend research is innovation!
At International Lifestyle studies students are trained to scan the environment for signs of change, analyse their trend spots in-depth and apply their trend insights to kick-start concepting and create meaningful innovation
In How To Research Trends our vision is portrayed on how to become a trend researcher as taught on Fontys International Lifestyle studies.
'Creating future proof concepts that improve our quality of life.'
What is a concept?
People that work as concept developers speak a common language, which enables them to understand each other’s work. An architect can quite easily explain a concept to a software developer, or even to a philosopher. They all develop concepts.
What differs is the way they define the word concept. A spatial concept has other ingredients compared to a philosophical concept, it depends on the industry you work in. So based on ingredients, there is some risk of misunderstanding and confusion.
Why we prefer concepting
The magic therefore must be in something else. In fact it’s about getting rid of the word ‘concept' and introducing the verb ‘concepting'. It’s about a way of thinking! Being able to understand and reflect on abstract phenomena in society, to subsequently translate them into daily life innovation. Or, translating trends into viable products and services. This skill is an important asset in a world that is getting more and more complex; we need creativity to shape our future.
It all started out with a Dutch textbook 'Serious Concepting, value through values' by Jakob Sutmuller and Rudy van Belkom (2014), written for the concepting course at International Lifestyle Studies. This is the first and only educational program in the Netherlands that focusses on concepting as a fully-fledged innovation-driven discipline that will contribute to a better quality of life.
How to get future proof?
The discipline of concepting as illustrated in the book is inspired by five principles determined by the program of ILS, developed by lecturers and researchers working for ILS. In fact they represent the important distinguishing ambitions ILS has in creating future proof, customer specific concepts that improve their quality of life. These principles are: Trends, Innovation, Cross-sectorality, Lifestyle and Quality of Life. Together they make up to a concepting process we call serious concepting.
Conceptdevelopment is based on the book and has a platform with the same name: SERIOUS CONCEPTING.