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The Role and Value of Trend Reports for Product Designers This  dissertation  is  submitted  to  the  University  of  Cambridge   for  the  Degree  of  Master  of  Philosophy   30th  March  2011  

Nani Brunini F it zw illia m Co lle ge Supe rv iso r: J a me s Mo ult rie

U n iv e rsit y o f Ca mbrid ge D e pa rt me n t o f En gin e e rin g I n st it ut e fo r Ma n ufa c t urin g


Abstract

Today’s global  economy  is  a  very  complex  and  hard  to  read  environment.  Competition  is  fierce  and   being  the  first  to  ‘get  it  right’  when  designing  new  products  could  be  decisive.  With  so  much  at   stake,  many  companies  have  turned  to  trends  research  as  a  way  to  differentiate  their  products.  This   work  starts  by  looking  into  the  current  theoretical  evidence  that  is  available,  aiming  at  making  sense   of  how  the  issue  has  been  portrayed  in  academic  and  commercial  literature.     The  research  itself  was  conducted  in  two  steps:  a  quantitative  study  and  a  qualitative  one.  In  the   quantitative  strand  the  aim  was  to  understand  how  trend  reports  have  been  used  in  new  product   development  and  what  opinion  was  had  held  about  them  by  their  users.  The  results  indicate  that   trend  reports  were  frequently  being  used  but  not  thought  of  as  an  essential  tool.  In  the  qualitative   step  the  aim  was  to  drill  down  specifically  on  the  opinions  and  expectations  of  product  designers  for   trend  research  and  reports.  The  results  show  that  there  was  a  discrepancy  of  expectations  between   designers  and  management  about  what  trend  reports  are,  how  they  should  be  used,  and  what  they   should  be  used  for.  And  finally,  five  possible  roles  of  trend  reports  for  product  designers  were   identified:  source  of  discoveries,  boundary  objects,  brand  compasses,  sparks  and  recipe  books.  

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Index

Preface .................................................................................................. 01 Index ................................................................................................................................  02 Abstract ..................................................................................................................  05   Chapter 01 – Introduction 1.1  Background  ..................................................................................................................  06   1.2  Research  objectives..................................................................................................................  07   1.3  Research  focus    ..................................................................................................................  08   1.3.1  Product  designers  ............................................................................................................  08   1.3.2  Trends  reports    ................................................................................................................  09   1.4  Structure  of  this  thesis    ..................................................................................................................  10  

Chapter 02 – Literature review 2.1 Overview    ..................................................................................................................  11   2.2  Available  literature    ..................................................................................................................  12   2.2.1  Futures  studies  ..................................................................................................................  12   2.2.2  Forecasting  and  trends  ..................................................................................................................  12   2.2.3  Coolhunting  ..................................................................................................................  13   2.2.4  Futures  and  trends  research  in  design  ................................................................................................  14   2.3  Literature  gap  and  research  questions  ...................................................................................................  17  

Chapter 03 – Research design 3.1 (quant+)  QUAL  =  enhanced  experiment........................................................................................................  19   3.1.1  Embedded  design  ..................................................................................................................  21   3.2  Benefits  from  each  methodology  .........................................................................................................  21   3.2.1  Why  we  needed  quantitative  data  .........................................................................................................  21   3.2.2  Why  we  needed  qualitative  data  ........................................................................................................  22  

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Chapter 04 – Web survey 4.1 Survey  design    ..................................................................................................................  23   4.1.1  Writing  the  questionnaire  ..................................................................................................................  24   4.1.2  Selecting  and  recruiting  the  sample  ............................................................................................................  28   4.1.3  Piloting  the  survey  ..................................................................................................................  29   4.1.4  Finding  the  survey  engine  ..................................................................................................................  29   4.2  Data  compilation  ..................................................................................................................  30   4.2.1  Filter  from  378  to  200  responders  ...............................................................................................................  30   4.2.2  Cross-­‐analysis  ..................................................................................................................  31   4.3  Results  ..................................................................................................................  32   4.3.1  Group  02  vs.  Groups  1  and  4:  how  the  use  of  trend  reports  can  be  affected  by  the  characteristics  of  person  and   company.  ..................................................................................................................  32   4.3.2  Group  03  vs.  Groups  1  and  4:  how  the  opinion  on  trend  reports  can  be  affected  by  the  characteristics  of  person  and   company.  ..................................................................................................................  33   4.3.3  Group  05  vs.  Groups  1  and  4:  how  the  investment  in  trend  reports  can  be  affected  by  the  characteristics  of  person   and  company.  ..................................................................................................................  35   4.4  Discussion    ..................................................................................................................  36  

Chapter 05 – Qualitative interviews 5.1 Overview  ......................................................................................................................................  38   5.2  Some  considerations  on  qualitative  interviews  ............................................................................................  39   5.3  Designing  the  interview    ..................................................................................................................  40   5.3.1  Sampling  ..................................................................................................................  40   5.3.2  Visual  prop  and  exercises  ..................................................................................................................  42   5.3.3  Interview  guide  ..................................................................................................................  45   5.4  Data  compilation  and  analysis..................................................................................................................  46   5.4.1  Transcription  ..................................................................................................................  46   5.4.2  Coding  ..................................................................................................................  46   5.4.2  Analysis  of  exercises  ..................................................................................................................  48   5.5  Interpretation  of  findings..................................................................................................................  50   5.5.1  Trend  reports  as  sources  of  discoveries  .....................................................................................  51   5.5.2  Trend  reports  as  boundary  objects  .......................................................................................................  53   5.5.3  Trend  reports  as  brand  compasses  ................................................................................................  58   5.5.4  Trend  reports  as  sparks  .....................................................................................................  59   5.5.5  Trend  reports  as  recipe  books  .....................................................................................................  61   5.6  Summary..................................................................................................................  62      

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Chapter 06 – Synthesis 6.1 Back  to  the  main  question  ..................................................................................................................  63   6.1.1  Divergent  expectations  ..................................................................................................................  64   6.1.2  New  challenges  for  trend  reports  ................................................................................................  65  

Chapter 07 – Conclusion 7.1 Contributions    ..................................................................................................................  66   7.1.1  Contributions  to  theory  ..................................................................................................................  68   7.1.2  Contributions  to  practice  ..................................................................................................................  67   7.2    Limitations  +  Future  research  ..................................................................................................................  67  

Bibliography .................................................................................................................. 68 Appendices   App.  01:  LinkedIn  groups  to  which  invitations  were  sent  ...................................................................  73   App.  02:  Coroflot  groups  to  which  invitations  were  sent  ................................................................  73   App.  03:  Final  demographic  of  web-­‐survey  ...................................................................  74   App.  04:  Questions  from  survey  used  for  analysis  .........................................................................  75   App.  05:  Definitions  of  SME  (European  Commission,  2003)  ......................................................................  76    

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CHAPTER 01  

Introduction

1.1 Background Today’s global  economy  is  a  very  complex  and  hard  to  read  environment.  Competition  is  fierce  and  especially   in  delicate  times  as  we  are  living  now,  being  the  first  to  ‘get  it  right’  when  designing  new  products  could  be   decisive.     With  so  much  at  stake,  many  companies  have  turned  to  trends  research  as  a  way  to  differentiate  their   products.  Whole  departments  and  disciplines  have  been  created  to  help  companies  think  in  an  open-­‐minded   way  and  to  create  new  products  that  could  succeed  in  this  busy  marketplace.     1

Trend reports  come  then  as  one  of  the  most  popular  vehicles  for  trend  research.  Top  management  are  usually   the  main  targets  of  these  expensive  strategic  documents,  which  commonly  provide  quantitative  data  and  rich   scenarios  of  how  the  future  might  look  like  in  a  determined  timeframe.     Most  literature  on  innovation  and  trends  research  is  also  written  from  a  management  point  of  view  (Raymond,   2010;  Courtney,  2001),  and  it  seems  that  economics,  marketing  and  advertising  are  the  most  common   audience  for  that  type  of  publications.   But  where  does  design  interact  with  trend  research?  Design  is  a  discipline  that  is  always  concerned  with  the   future  (Lawson,  2005;  Evans,  2010)  since  designers  are  constantly  being  asked  for  innovation  (Kelley  and   2

Littman, 2004).  Designers  are  noticeably  key  to  the  process  of  new  product  development  since  they  are   ultimately  the  ones  that  execute  the  ideas.  Thus  delivering  trend  reports  to  just  marketing  and  company   executives  without  the  buy-­‐in  of  the  design  team  can  be  potentially  a  huge  waste  of  effort  and  money.  Despite   that,  there  seems  there  to  be  a  lack  of  understanding  on  how  designers  take  that  sort  of  information.    

                                                                                                                                  1 2

“Trend  reports”  will  be  also  referred  here  by  its  acronym  “TR”.      “New  Product  Development”  will  be  also  referred  here  by  its  acronym  “NPD”.     6  


Furthermore, the  idea  of  following  trends  is  not  really  attractive  to  designers,  since  they  are  often  expected  to   create  the  future  themselves  (Lawson,  2005).  The  use  of  trends  research  by  designers  sounds  natural,  but  do   they  need  someone  else  to  look  at  the  future  for  them?  After  all,  designers  have  always  been  able  to  keep  up   to  date  by  researching  their  fields  and  being  connected  to  the  latest  developments.  Thinking  about  the   designers’  role  in  trends  research  has  not  been  much  of  an  issue  for  designers  so  far.   In  the  case  of  product  design,  which  is  the  focus  of  this  study,  futures  research  is  particularly  relevant  as  issues   with  product  longevity  and  production  costs  can  bring  some  interesting  challenges  to  product  designers  in   developing  products  that  cater  for  a  future  audience.     Investments  in  future  forecasting  and  trends  research  are  growing  very  rapidly  as  a  form  of  managing  risks  and   uncertainty  (Evans,  2010;  Scott,  2004;  Raymond,  2010;  Courtney,  2001;  Gloor,  P.  &  Cooper,  2007;  Gladwell,   2001),  but  the  “pink  elephant  in  the  room”  seems  to  be  that  designers  may  actually  not  be  using  the  content   of  those  reports,  since  they  could  potentially  not  be  relevant  to  them.   Despite  their  growing  prominence,  there  is  very  little  scientific  research  on  how  trend  reports  are  being   created  and  used  (Evans,  2010;  Scott,  2004).  Moreover,  no  publications  were  found  on  what  designers  think   about  those  types  of  reports.     It’s  due  to  these  reasons  that  this  research  aims  at  focusing  on  the  impact  of  trend  reports  in  the  work  of   designers.  Our  main  question  is:  What is the role and value of trend reports for product

designers? We  intend  to  obtain  an  answer,  or  at  least  some  first  indications  to  an  answer,  mainly  from  designers   themselves.    

1.2 Research objectives This study  is  not  intended  to  be  prescriptive.  Our  goal  is  not  to  give  a  detailed  description  of  ‘what  to  do’  or   how  trend  reports  are  used  and  produced.  We  want  to  know  from  some  specific  users  of  trend  reports,  what   kind  of  relationship  do  they  see  between  product  design  and  trend  reports.     Thus  the  main  objectives  of  this  research  are  to:   •

Look into  the  current  theoretical  evidence  and  understand  how  the  issue  has  been  portrayed  in   academic  and  commercial  literature:  How  do  both  strands  differ  from  each  other?  How  is  design  and   futures  research  portrayed  in  each  domain?  

Explore specific  issues  relating  to  product  design  and  trend  reports:  What  do  designers  think  about   trend  reports?  Do  they  think  they  need  them?  Can  they  be  useful  to  their  daily  practice?  In  what  

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ways? What  are  their  expectations  towards  trend  reports?  What  have  been  their  experiences?  What   could  be  improved?    

As a  result  of  fulfilling  the  above  objectives,  this  paper  also  aims  to:     •

Encourage further  research  on  trend  analysis  in  the  design  field.  

Stimulate conversations  within  design  practice  about  what  could  be  done  to  improve  forecasting   processes  for  product  design.  

1.3 Research focus Since this  study  focuses  on  the  experiences  of  ‘product  designers’  with  ‘trend  reports’,  it  is  important  to  first   establish  how  those  terms  were  interpreted  throughout  this  research.  

1.3.1 Product designers This research  focuses  on  the  opinion  of  product  designers  on  trend  reports  -­‐  an  area  positioned  by  Moggridge   (2007)  in  the  quadrant  of  Human  &  Subjective/Physical  design  (Figure  01).  

Fig.  01:  Areas  of  design  and  the  focus  of  this  research  –  adapted  from  Moggridge’s  (2007)  axis  of  disciplines  in  product   development.  The  area  noted  here  as  “product  design”,  is  called  “industrial  design”  in  the  original  version.  

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The area  of  Product  design  itself  is  vast  and  encompasses  a  whole  sub-­‐set  of  areas  –  such  as  lighting,  furniture,   digital  appliances,  electronic  devices,  apparel  and  fashion.  Thus  to  keep  our  scope  more  manageable,  this   study  approaches  the  term  ‘product  design’  in  a  rather  broad  sense,  as  the  creation  of  tangible  objects  which   fulfil  particular  human  needs  and  desires  (Moggridge,  2007),  originated  from  a  design  process  -­‐  sketches,   prototypes  and  models  (Slack,  2006)  -­‐  and  created  through  industrial  processes  (Löbach,  2001).       It  is  also  important  to  mention,  that  although  we  refer  to  the  opinion  of  non-­‐designers  as  a  comparative   counter-­‐point  (see  Chapter  04),  the  idea  is  to  look  at  trend  reports  from  the  product  designers’  contexts  –  their   experiences  and  visualizations  of  an  ideal  document  for  them.  

1.3.2 Trend reports In a  broader  sense,  a  report  is  an  official  document  that  summarises  the  assessment  and  analysis  of  a  certain   topic  (Bowden,  2011;  Lichtenberger  et  all,  2004).  Each  type  of  report  serves  a  very  specific  purpose  and  is   aimed  at  a  very  particular  audience.  Bowden  (2011)  and  Lichtenberger  (2004),  describe  some  of  the  main   purposes  of  reports  in  general:  describe  and  explain  a  certain  problem;  evaluate  products,  situations  and   practices;  inform  decision  making,  provide  recommendations  and  instruct  and  even  provoke  debate  and/or   persuade  someone  or  a  group  of  people.       In  design  practice,  that  list  could  also  go  on  and  on.  For  reasons  of  clarity,  this  study  revisits  the  way  some   distinguishing  authors  (O’Grady  &  O’Grady,  2009;  Laurel  &  Lunenfeld,  2003;  Tidwell,  2011)  describe  the  most   3

common types  of  research  in  design  and  it  proposes  the  following  descriptions  as  a  first  attempt  to  distinguish   the  types  of  reports  in  design  practice:    

TYPES OF  REPORTS  

FOCUS

COMMON CONTENT  

User research   reports  

Human behaviour  and   product  experiences.  

Heuristics, ethnography,  ergonomics  and  usability  tests,  colour   and  typography  psychology,  patterns  of  (present)  behaviour.  

Market research   reports  

Consumption, brands  and   market  dynamics.  

Demographics, ethnography,  segmentations,  customer   satisfaction,  sales  and  pricing  data,  projections,  competitor   analyses,  brand  equity  and  strategy  analyses.  

Trends research   reports  

Behavioural shifts  and   evolution  in  society  as  a   whole.  

Timelines, ethnography,  trends  analyses,  (indication  of  future)   behaviour  patterns.  

Table 01:  Differentiating  the  most  common  types  of  reports  in  design  practice  (suggested  by  the  author).

                                                                                                                                  3

The  author  of  this  study  recognises  the  limitations  of  table  01  and  indeed  encourages  further  scientific  research  on  the  differences  and   commonalities  of  research  reports  in  design  practice.    

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These three  types  of  reports  are  very  commonly  used  in  a  more  or  less  interchangeable  way.  As  a  way  to   explain  why  that  happens,  this  study  also  presents  the  following  matrix,  which  illustrates  how  closely   intertwined  the  three  reports  are:  

Fig.  02:  Exploring  differences  and  similarities  between  user  research,  market  research  and  trends  research  reports   (suggested  by  the  author).  

In summary,  this  study  describes  trends  research  reports,  or  trend  reports,  as  “strategic  documents  that  track   down  the  behaviour  and  evolution  of  notable  shifts  in  society,  culture,  aesthetics,  technology,  environment,   consumers,  etc.  Contrary  to  user  research  or  competitive  analysis,  trend  reports  go  beyond  what  is   4

happening now  and  always  present  patterns  suggesting  directions  to  future  projections” .    

1.4 Structure of this thesis This work  is  organised  in  eight  chapters.  Chapter  02  (literature  review)  and  03  (methodology)  lay  the   groundwork  for  the  research,  while  Chapters  04  and  05  have  the  main  body  of  the  research  itself.  We  start   with  a  quantitative  approach  (Chapter  04)  to  help  inform  our  work  during  the  qualitative  stage  (Chapter  05).   Chapters  06  and  07  have  our  synthesis  of  the  results  and  our  conclusions  respectively,  while  Chapter  08  has  a   list  of  all  the  references  utilised.  

                                                                                                                                  4

Despite  being  proposed  by  the  author  of  this  research,  the  definition  of  trend  reports  is  presented  here  in  quotation  marks,  as  that  was   the  way  they  were  presented  to  responders  in  the  quantitative  web-­‐survey  (see  chapters  03  and  04).    

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CHAPTER 02  

Literature review

2.1 Overview Exploring current  literature  was  the  first  step  taken  to  collect  data  on  the  issues  we  wanted  to  investigate.  As   the  exact  research  questions  were  not  clearly  established  at  first,  the  review  of  the  literature  went  through  a   1

rather broad  spectrum  of  issues .  The  objective  was  not  only  to  get  better  acquainted  with  the  subject,  but   also  to  also  find  possible  avenues  to  focus  on  that  could  be  aligned  with  personal  interests.   The  starting  point  was  to  look  at  what  had  already  been  published  in  the  academic  world  about  trends   research  and  design.  Among  these  were:  various  journals  on  design,  product  development  and  futures  studies   that  were  accessed  via  academic  databases  such  as  Science  Direct,  Google  Scholar  and  CUED  from  Cambridge.   Some  of  that  material  was  also  obtained  via  personal  requests  for  copies  to  academics  when  the  literature  was   not  readily  available.   In  order  to  achieve  more  breadth  there  was  also  an  attempt  to  search  for  this  topic  in  other  languages.     However,  putting  potential  language  barriers  aside,  very  little  was  found  about  the  penetration  of  trends   research  in  the  design  world.   In  the  academic  field,  it  seems  there  is  a  recently  growing  interest  in  trends  research  and  design.  Interestingly   they  all  came  from  the  United  Kingdom  –  an  MPhil  dissertation  (Scott,  2004)  and  a  doctoral  thesis  (Muir  Wood,   2010)  from  the  University  of  Cambridge  and  a  PhD  thesis  from  Lancaster  University  (Evans,  2010).   Unfortunately,  besides  a  few  sporadic  papers,  little  other  scientific  effort  was  found.   In  the  commercial  world  however,  publications  on  trends  research  and  design  related  issues  are  getting  more   and  more  popular.  The  corporate  world  is  used  to  following  trends,  mostly  through  business  figures  and   market  research,  but  it  seems  there  is  also  a  growing  interest  in  the  very  alluring  world  of  “coolhunting”  and  in   the  possibilities  of  becoming  “cool”  and  “trendy”.    

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In  order  to  allow  for  a  greater  focus  on  the  results  of  the  study,  whilst  maintaining  scientific  robustness,  the  researcher  made  the   deliberate  decision  of  presenting  only  some  key  authors  and  topics  in  the  literature  review.  This  was  decision  was  a  compromise,  taken  in   consideration  the  word  count  allowed  for  MPhil  theses.    

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This section  presents  how  some  of  the  most  relevant  issues  to  this  study  are  portrayed  in  current  available   literature.  It  starts  with  giving  an  overview  of  literature  on  ‘forecasting’,  inside  and  out  of  the  design  field.   Then  it  narrows  to  summarise  what  experts  say  about  ‘trends’,  which  is  seen  both  from  a  perspective  of  a   phenomenon  and  as  business  opportunities.  The  chapter  is  then  finalised  with  how  the  construction  of  this   study’s  research  questions  as  an  attempt  to  fill  up  a  gap  in  current  literature.  

2.2 Available literature 2.2.1 Futures studies Futures Studies  as  a  formal  discipline  is  now  well  over  50  years  old  (Sardar,  2009).  In  fact,  some  scholars  trace   it  back  much  further  as  trying  to  guess  what  the  future  holds  is  quite  a  fundamental  part  of  being  human.   According  to  Wendell  Bell,  professor  emeritus  of  sociology  at  Yale  University,  currently  a  “consultant  futurist”,   futures  studies’  main  purposes  are  "to  discover  or  invent,  examine  and  evaluate,  and  propose  possible,   probable,  and  preferable  futures”  (Bell,  1997).     Godet  and  Roubelat  (1996)  suggest  that  the  role  of  futures  studies  has  to  be  rethought,  as  in  the  1980s  and   1990s  a  number  of  errors  in  forecasting  were  made  based  upon  two  mistakes:  “overestimation  of  the  pace  of   change  (of  technologies)”  and  the  “underestimation  of  inertial  factors  (structures,  behaviours)”  (Godet  &   Roubelat,  1996).     In  a  similar  vein,  Sardar  (2009)  makes  the  point  that  future  studies  should  not  to  be  about  getting  it  right  since   this  is  not  possible;  instead  it  should  be  about  “exploring  and  developing  creative,  novel  and  inclusive   solutions”  (Sardar,  2009).  

2.2.2 Forecasting and trends The great  majority  of  texts  on  forecasting  and  trends  come  from  fashion  and  economics  (Muir  Wood,  2010)  –   two  worlds  at  first  seen  as  completely  different  from  each  other.  With  regards  to  how  they  apply  forecasting   and  the  finding  of  patterns,  usually  they  also  behave  very  differently:  the  first  relying  more  on  instinct  and   visual  observations,  such  as  the  change  of  preferences  in  colours  and  materials  (Kim  et  al,  2011;  Diane  &   Cassidy,  2005),  whilst  the  other  searches  for  certainty  in  numerical  projections  in  different  demographics  and   sales  figures  (Friedman,  2010;  Gordon,  2008;  Watson,  2009).   Some  authors  even  try  to  combine  both  worlds.  Chan,  C,  for  example  tries  to  measure  style  by  creating   complex  mathematical  formulae  (Chan  2000).    

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In the  business  sector,  there  is  a  huge  volume  of  books  on  forecasting.  From  ‘how  to  do  it’  (Raymond,  2004   and  2010;  Highman,  2009;  Brannon,  2005;  Kim,  Fiore  &  Kim,  2011;  Taleb,  2008;  Gordon,  2008)  to  ‘what  trends   are  relevant  for  a  certain  year’  (Friedman,  2011;  Dixon,  2007;  Watson,  2009).   Although  authors  are  very  careful  in  saying  you  cannot  really  predict  the  future,  the  atmosphere  is  more  about   ‘getting  it  right’  (Raymond,  2010)  and  having  “decision  making  power”(Lindgren  and  Bandhold,  2003).     Martin  Raymond,  co-­‐founder  of  one  of  the  most  influential  trends  agencies  in  the  design  world,  The  Future   2

Laboratory , says  in  his  latest  book  for  example:   “Yes  accurate!  If  a  company  hires  you,  invests  in  you  and  asks  you  to  identify  the  next  social,   cultural,  ethical  or  environmental  trend  that  is  set  to  impact  on  consumer  behaviour,  they’ll   expect  you  to  get  it  right.”  (Raymond,  2010)     A  quick  look  to  Amazon.com,  the  largest  online  book  retailer  to  date,  can  illustrate  how  commonplace  the   words  ‘forecasting’,  ‘prediction’  and  ‘certainty’  have  become  in  titles  of  economics,  business  strategy  or  even   fashion  books.  According  to  Sardar  (2009),  ‘forecasting’  is  a  term  that  should  be  carefully  used,  as  they   ‘seduce’  readers  with  the  illusory  idea  of  being  able  to  see  what  is  coming  next  and  control  the  future  (Sardar,   2009).      

2.2.3 Coolhunting Coolhunting is  a  recent  popular  term  for  identifying  trends  and  is  related  to  spotting  new  and  unusual  ‘triggers’   in  society  –  from  products  to  behaviours.  Being  “cool”  is  generally  understood  as  being  different  and  unique   and  companies  are  very  interested  because  this  is  something  they  can  capitalise  on.  “Cool”  is  the  ultimate   point  of  difference  and  appeals  to  very  broad  audiences  –  “young  people  gravitate  towards  it  and  older  people   covet  it  because  it  makes  them  feel  younger”  (Kerner  &  Pressman,  2007).     The  term  ‘coolhunting’  was  coined  by  the  noted  writer  Malcom  Gladwell,  who  in  1997  wrote  an  article  in  The   New  Yorker  (Gladwell,  1997)  about  Deedee  Gordon,  an  American  coolhunter  with  an  impressive  list  of  clients  -­‐   from  manufacturers  of  apparel,  footwear,  health  and  beauty,  cosmetics  and  fragrances;  movie  studios;  sports   associations;  electronics  companies  and  advertising  agencies  (Gordon,  2001).   Some  suggest  that  the  rise  of  coolhunting  was  heavily  influenced  by  the  record  amounts  of  disposable  income   in  the  past  10  or  so  years  (Kerner  &  Pressman,  2007).  Combine  that  with  a  growing  commoditisation,  fear  of   competition  and  an  increasing  difficulty  to  differentiate  products,  and  suddenly  the  hunt  for  the  next  trendy   thing  can  raise  immense  interest.  

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Nowadays coolhunting  is  such  a  ‘hot  topic’  that  there  is  not  only  a  growing  number  in  print  publications  on  the   subject,  but  also  a  huge  selection  of  influential  blogs  and  websites  from  experts  and  amateurs  alike.  In  Italy,  for   example,  there  is  even  a  “school”  dedicated  to  coolhunting,  preparing  professionals  from  all  over  the  world   3

with theories  and  techniques .   On  the  other  hand,  even  though  it’s  such  a  young  topic,  there  are  already  some  critics  on  the  subject.  Kerner  &   Pressman  for  example  are  really  emphatic  on  their  opinions;  they  describe  the  outcomes  of  focus  groups  and   trend  reports  as  “short  sighted,  artificial  and  gimmicky”.  They  strongly  believe  that  companies  shouldn’t  be   chasing  cool,  but  rather  be  inspired  by  it.  “Do  your  research  but  spit  it  out  in  your  own  way”,  they  argue   (Kerner  &  Pressman,  2007).  Tom  Ford,  a  celebrated  fashion  designer,  goes  as  far  as  to  say  “if  you  have  to  pay   someone  to  tell  you  what  the  next  trend  is,  then  you  are  in  the  wrong  business”  (Kerner  &  Pressman,  2007).  

2.2.4 Futures and trends research in design Futures research  is  a  very  mature  discipline  and  one  can  find  a  vast  array  of  material  on  philosophical   considerations  on  the  importance  and  consequences  of  future  studies  to  society  as  well  as  to  corporate   environments  and  product  development.  Conversely,  only  very  few  of  these  consider  the  influence  of   forecasting  in  design  practice  (Evans,  2010;  Muir  Wood,  2010;  Scott,  2005).   The  design  industry,  despite  recognizing  trends  research  as  an  important  topic,  has  largely  failed  to  formally   adopt  it  as  part  of  their  processes  (Scott  2005).  Also  there  seems  to  be  a  fair  amount  of  confusion  around  the   nomenclature,  as  it  often  uses  the  term  “trends  research”  as  an  umbrella  term  for  many  types  of  research   (Muir  Wood  2010).   As  noted  earlier,  that  gap  seems  to  be  filled  from  the  academic  side.  The  first  material  encountered  on  the   subject  was  an  MPhil  thesis  from  the  University  of  Cambridge,  which  investigated  the  possibility  of  product   trends  being  predicted  and  how  the  trends  research  process  was  being  applied  in  design  companies  in  the  UK   (Scott,  2005).  The  author,  Natalie  Scott,  uses  practical  and  real  life  examples  by  conducting  eighteen  “highly-­‐ structured”  interviews  with  manufacturers  and  design  agencies  in  the  UK.  She  concludes  the  study  with  a  very   interesting  tool  designed  by  the  author  (Fig.  03),  which  “combines  all  the  proposed  models  used  to  represent   the  patterns  identified  from  the  interviews”.  

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From  their  website:  “TrendsGymnasium  is  an  online  Coolhunting  training  course  designed  to  help  people  effectively  learn  how  to  spot   and  analyze  short,  medium  and  long  term  trends,  by  interpreting  their  impact  on  society  using  the  technique  of  coolhunting  to  originate   fresh  ideas”.  http://www.trendsgymnasium.com/  

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Fig. 03:  “Design  map  for  capturing  trends”  designed  by  Natalie  Scott  (2005).  

Martyn Evans,  a  senior  lecturer  from  the  University  of  Lancaster,  also  presents  the  issue  from  a  practical   perspective,  considering  the  role  of  futures  thinking  in  design  (Evans,  2010).  He  refers  to  the  long  established   field  of  future  studies  to  serve  as  theoretical  base  for  his  investigation.  One  of  the  major  outcomes  of  the   research  is  the  construction  of  a  theoretical  framework  drawn  upon  the  results  of  a  series  of  qualitative   interviews  with  top  management,  designers  and  researchers,  mostly  from  coming  from  design  agencies.  Evans’   study  concludes  on  a  note  of  the  “growing  need  for  organisations  to  engage  designers  to  consider  the  future  in   the  design  process”  since  that  is  a  requirement  that  is  becoming  more  and  more  frequent  in  a  very  uncertain   world  (Evans,  2010).  He  also  finds  out  from  the  literature  and  the  interviews  with  design  practitioners  that   4

although futures  thinking  techniques  are  increasingly  being  employed  in  design  practice,  this  is  not  a  field   designers  are  very  knowledgeable  about  (Evans,  2010).    

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Common  techniques  in  design  practice  include  trend  monitoring,  Delphi  methods,  scenarios  building,  etc.   15  


Fig. 04:  “Design  Futures”  framework  designed  by  Martyn  Evans  (2010).  Picture  merely  illustrative.  Please  refer  to  original   work  for  more  details.    

A month  after  Evan’s  publication,  a  further  important  thesis  is  submitted  by  Andrew  Muir  Wood  (2010),  this   time  from  the  University  of  Cambridge.  To  a  certain  extent,  Muir  Wood  also  considers  the  influence  of  futures   thinking  in  the  design  environment,  except  he  approaches  the  topic  from  the  perspective  of  the  product,   rather  than  that  of  the  designer,  consumer  or  firm.  His  focus  is  on  understanding  and  explaining  the   phenomenon  of  “change”  in  the  design  of  consumer  products  (Muir  Wood,  2010)  and  he  does  that  by   analysing  the  relationships  between  the  aesthetic  and  technical  qualities  of  products.  Andrew  applies  a  series   of  qualitative  interviews  with  design  experts  and  conducts  a  case  study  on  the  evolution  of  mobile  phones,   providing  some  novel  approaches  and  a  very  visual,  thus  also  very  “designerly”,  way  of  depicting  the  evolution   of  a  trend.  Similarly  to  Evans  and  Scott,  Muir  Wood  summarises  his  investigation  in  a  theoretical  framework,   which  depicts  how  form  is  developed  in  the  context  of  design  (Fig.  05).      

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Fig. 05:  “Theoretical  framework  of  change  in  the  design  of  products”,  designed  by  Andrew  Muir  Wood  (2010).  Picture   merely  illustrative.  Please  refer  to  original  work  for  more  details.  

2.3 Literature gap and research questions Going through  the  available  literature  has  shown  there  is  already  a  reasonable  amount  of  material  (mostly   from  commercial  literature)  on  the  creation  and  use  of  trends  research  in  non-­‐design  environments.  Some   literature  on  how  trends  have  been  introduced  in  the  design  process  was  also  found  (mostly  from  academic   literature).     This  study  did  not  attempt  to  be  prescriptive  or  to  go  too  deep  into  the  making  of  reports.  It  should  be  noted,   however  that  this  is  also  an  area  that  deserves  more  attention.  The  only  reference  that  was  found  that  talks   directly  about  the  making  of  trend  reports,  Martin  Raymond’s  book  “The  Trend  Forecaster’s  Handbook”   (Raymond,  2010),  mainly  acts  a  ‘how-­‐to  guide’  and  only  leaves  three  pages  (out  of  216)  to  the  subject.   As  seen  in  chapter  2,  though  not  exhaustive,  there  is  already  some  evidence  on  how  design  practitioners  set   about  creating  and  using  trends  reports.  However  little  attention  has  been  put  onto  the  actual  value  of  trends   research.  Thus,  the  primary  research  question  that  this  study  seeks  to  address  is:  What is the role and value

of trend reports to product designers?  

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As that  seemed  a  rather  large  question  to  answer,  we  have  decided  to  break  that  question  into  two  semi-­‐ independent  subsets  with  two  research  questions  each:  

Fig.  06:  The  two  sub-­‐sets  of  research  questions.  

As  figure  06  illustrates,  these  two  sets  were  approached  by  two  different  methodologies.  The  reasons  why  we   have  taken  a  multi-­‐method  approach  is  going  to  be  explained  in  detail  in  the  methodology  section  (chapter   03),  but  the  abovementioned  figure  can  give  a  brief  overview  on  how  the  investigation  of  our  primary  research   question  was  tackled:  a  quantitative  path  for  the  first  one  and  a  qualitative  for  the  second.  These  came   sequentially  and  the  qualitative  phase  had  more  weight  in  the  data  analysis.     The  next  chapter  will  open  up  the  discussion  about  how  that  mixed-­‐methodology  was  approached.    

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CHAPTER 03  

Research design Having  established  the  research  questions  in  the  previous  chapter,  we  will  now  introduce  our  process  in   selecting  the  most  appropriate  methodologies  to  guide  our  investigation.  This  chapter  contains  an   introductory  discussion  on  what  methodologies  have  been  used;  first  it  describes  the  multi-­‐method  approach   that  was  taken  and  then  it  goes  over  the  rationale  behind  those  choices.  For  clarity  reasons,  a  more  detailed   description  of  how  those  methodologies  have  been  assessed  will  only  be  provided  in  the  upcoming  chapters  4   and  5  within  the  context  of  their  use.  

3.1 (quant+) QUAL = enhanced experiment1 As we  have  seen  in  the  previous  chapter,  this  research  poses  two  independent  sub-­‐sets  of  research  questions.   The  figure  below  illustrates  how  the  design  of  this  research  builds  up  from  the  results  of  the  literature  review   and  starts  with  the  collection  and  analysis  of  quantitative  data.  The  first  set  of  research  questions  (RQ01  and   RQ02)  is  assessed  via  a  web-­‐survey  and  followed  by  a  subsequent  collection  and  analysis  of  qualitative  data   through  interviews,  which  then  refer  to  the  second  sub-­‐set  of  research  questions  (RQ03  and  RQ04).    

Fig. 07:  Research  stages.  

1

Notation  based  on  the  system  suggested  by  Creswell  &  Plano  Clark  (2001).  

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As it  will  be  explained  in  section  3.2,  the  results  from  the  quantitative  phase  were  mainly  used  in  this  study  as   a  way  to  better  inform  the  design  of  the  next  qualitative  phase.  They  were  analysed  both  as  a  “recheck”  (not   as  statistical  validation)  of  the  researcher’s  previous  assumptions  and  as  indicators  for  further  inquiries.  During   the  final  analysis  a  higher  priority  was  given  to  the  results  of  the  qualitative  interviews.  Some  of  the  findings   from  the  quantitative  phase  were  indeed  further  investigated  in  the  interviews,  but  the  rationale  for  this   approach  was  that  both  strands  of  methodology  would  remain  independent.   The  results  from  the  first  phase  provided  a  more  general  understanding  of  the  research  problem,  whilst  the   second  phase  explored  more  focused,  less  generic  problems.  The  outcomes  of  both  strands  were  then  collated   once  the  qualitative  analysis  was  done.     The  following  table  presents  a  detailed  comparison  between  both  lines  of  study:    

QUANTITATIVE

QUALITATIVE

RESEARCH QUESTIONS  

RQ01: How  have  trend  reports  been  used  in   NPD?  

RQ03: What  do  people  who  work  with   product  design  think  about  trends  research   and  trend  reports?    

RQ02: What  do  users  of  trend  reports  think   about  trend  reports?      

RQ04: How  do  people  who  work  with   product  design  see  the  role  of  trends   research  and  trend  reports  in  their  field?    

LEVEL OF  EXPLORATION  

Shallow, illustrative.  

Deep, exploratory.  

TYPES OF  QUESTIONS  

Simple, closed.  

Complex, open.  

Who, what,  when,  how  much  

Why, what,  how  come.  

Indication, insights  and  observations.  

In-­‐depth investigation,  insights  and   observations.  

REASONING, OBJECTIVES  

Recheck on  assumptions  based  on  the   literature  reviewed  and  on  the  researcher’s   previous  professional  experience.   ONTOLOGIES  

UNITS OF  ANALYSIS  

SAMPLE

Real experiences.  

Real experiences  and  ideal  conceptions.  

Use and  opinion  from  professionals.  

Use and  opinion  from  professionals  working   with  product  design.  

Personal/individual +  company  

Personal/individual +  company  

Trend reports  (concrete)  

Trend research  (abstract)  +  trend  reports   (concrete)  

Breadth (200  participants).  

Depth (11  participants).  

Different types  of  professionals.  

Designers working  with  product  design.  

Users or  user/creators  of  trend  reports.  

Users or  user/creators  of  trend  reports.  

All levels  of  seniority.  

Mid-­‐weight, senior,  managers  and  head-­‐of-­‐ department.  

B2C products,  durables  and  non-­‐durables.  

B2C products,  durables.  

All countries.  

London (UK)  and  São  Paulo  (Brazil).  

Table 02:  Comparison  between  used  research  methodologies.  

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3.1.1 Embedded design The mixed  method  approach  we  have  used  for  this  study  was  what  Creswell  &  Plan  Clark  (2011)  would  call  as   “embedded  designs”.  According  to  the  authors,  these  types  of  methodologies  occur  when  “the  researcher   combines  the  collection  and  analysis  of  both  quantitative  and  qualitative  data  within  a  traditional  quantitative   research  design  or  qualitative  research  design”  (Creswell  &  Plan  Clark,  2011).  They  are  mostly  suitable  for  cases   when  the  researcher  has  questions  that  require  different  types  of  data.  In  our  case,  we  needed  a  more  generic   strand  in  order  to  contemplate  the  big  picture  as  well  as  more  specific  view  of  the  use  of  trend  reports.   The  authors  also  point  out  that  in  some  embedded  designs,  one  data  set  could  provide  a  supportive  or   secondary  role  in  the  study,  which  was  indeed  the  case  with  this  research.  They  also  explain  that  this  type  of   design  is  appropriate  when  “the  researcher  has  little  prior  experience  with  the  supplemental  method”  and   when  “the  researcher  does  not  have  adequate  resources  to  place  equal  priority  on  both  types  of  data”   (Creswell  &  Plan  Clark,  2011).     A  particular  aspect  to  embedded  designs  is  that,  because  the  two  methods  are  used  to  answer  different   research  questions,  integrating  the  results  later  can  be  very  challenging.  Conversely,  an  advantage  to  the   design  is  that  the  two  sets  of  results  can  be  kept  separate,  so  the  “pressure”  of  converging  their  results  is  very   low  (Bryman,  2004).      

3.2 Benefits from each methodology There are  several  reasons  why  is  good  to  choose  quantitative  and  qualitative  approaches.  Below  we  list  the   ones  that  were  most  relevant  to  our  selection.  

3.2.1 Why we needed quantitative data Unbiased information 'How much'  and  'what'  questions  are  more  easily  identified  by  fixed  or  quantitative  approaches  (Robson,   2003).  However  the  decision  to  include  a  quantitative  method  to  this  thesis  actually  came  only  a  bit  later  in  the   process.     Our  initial  planning  was  to  answer  the  research  questions  only  through  qualitative  interviews,  but  in  the  first   attempt  at  writing  the  qualitative  questionnaire  there  was  some  concern  around  the  possibility  of  a  biased   approach  due  to  the  researcher’s  previous  professional  experience.  This  fact  was  very  critical  since  the   sampling  for  the  qualitative  phase  would  be  done  via  the  researcher’s  personal  network.  

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Thus in  order  to  decrease  that  risk  of  partiality,  a  quantitative  web-­‐survey  was  conducted.  The  idea  is  that  by   giving  more  breadth  to  the  research  and  reassessing  our  preconceptions,  we  could  potentially  prevent  the   following  of  unfruitful  leads.    

Far-reaching and cost-effective An online  survey  is  a  cost-­‐effective  way  to  include  participants  from  all  over  the  world.  That  could  potentially   grant  us  insights  to  major  influential  factors  such  as  cultural  and  economical  instances.  Moreover,  it  makes  it   easier  to  add  non-­‐designers  in  the  analysis,  which  could  give  some  indication  on  how  much  the  problems   reported  in  the  reviewed  literature  relate  exclusively  to  the  design  field.  

3.2.2 Why we needed qualitative data In-depth knowledge 'How' and  'Why'  questions  are  more  difficult  to  pin  down  and  often  indicate  the  need  for  a  qualitative   approach  (Robson,  2003).  We  were  also  looking  for  more  personal  statements,  going  beyond  the  participants’   real  experiences.  Real,  spontaneous  and  almost  unconscious  commentary  was  expected  to  help  paint  a  richer   idea  of  who  has  been  using  trend  reports  specifically  in  design  environments.    

The real deal The great  majority  of  trend  reports  contain  confidential  information.  The  way  we  would  be  most  likely  able  to   refer  to  that  sensitive  material  would  be  via  personal  contact,  thus  making  a  qualitative  method  necessary.  By   referring  to  real  examples  of  trend  reports  we  would  have  a  better  idea  of  what  kind  of  trends  reports  and   what  kind  of  trends  information  product  designers  are  utilising.  Furthermore,  that  documentary  analysis  could   also  give  us  stronger  hints  on  what  product  designers  actually  understand  by  the  term  “trend  reports”.    

Previous expertise The researcher  has  been  conducting  qualitative  research  as  well  as  qualitative  interviews  in  design   environments  for  over  7  years.  Although  there  was  a  substantial  research  on  the  scientific  approach  to   qualitative  interviews  (Creswell  &  Plan  Clark,  2011;  Robson,  2003;  Mason,  2002;  Bell,  2005;  Gill  &  Johnson,   2010;  Collins,  2010),  the  previous  experience  of  the  researcher  and  thus  her  familiarity  with  the  tools  was  also   an  important  decision  factor  in  the  choice  for  this  methodology.      

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CHAPTER 04  

Web survey In  the  previous  chapter  we  have  seen  the  rationale  behind  the  overall  design  of  this  study.  This  chapter  and   the  following  will  now  provide  a  more  detailed  discussion  on  both  methodologies  that  were  used  –   quantitative  and  qualitative.     We  now  focus  on  the  creation  and  development  of  the  quantitative  phase  of  this  research.  First  some   considerations  will  be  made  with  regards  to  using  that  kind  of  methodology.  We  will  discuss  the  key  strategies   employed  to  overcome  the  usual  challenges  of  an  online  quantitative  survey.   We  then  consider  the  survey  design  –  how  the  questionnaire  was  made,  how  it  relates  to  the  research   questions  and  what  type  of  sampling  strategy  was  selected  to  achieve  our  goal.  Once  that  is  established,  we   demonstrate  our  process  of  data  analysis  by  showing  how  the  results  from  the  survey  matched  our  previous   hypotheses.     The  chapter  concludes  by  discussing  the  results  and  their  relation  to  the  research  questions  as  well  as  by   making  some  observations  on  the  limitations  and  caveats  of  this  quantitative  phase.  

4.1 Survey design Putting the  survey  together  was  a  rather  complex  undertaking.  Four  main  tasks  had  to  be  managed  in  a  more   or  less  simultaneous  manner:   1.

Writing the  questionnaire  and  ensuring  that  the  captured  data  was  as  reliable  as  possible.  

2.

Choosing and  recruiting  a  relevant  sample.  

3.

Piloting the  survey.  

4.

Choosing a  survey  engine  and  making  sure  technicalities  were  not  in  the  way  of  survey  completion.  

We now  look  at  those  tasks  with  some  more  detail.  

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4.1.1 Writing the questionnaire Quantitative questionnaires  traditionally  require  a  strong  pre-­‐specification  as  well  as  a  substantial  amount  of   conceptual  understanding  about  a  phenomenon  before  starting  the  actual  data  collection  (Robson,  2003;  Gill   &  Johnson,  1991;  Collins,  2010;  Bell,  2005).  For  this  thesis,  some  elements  were  crucial  in  selecting  which   1

variables could  lead  to  fruitful  results:  the  researcher’s  professional  experience ,  the  reviewed  literature  and   the  feedback  from  pilot  phase.  

From hypotheses to questions As Robson  states,  “the  researcher’s  central  task  is  to  link  research  questions  and  survey  questions”  (Robson,   2003).  So  a  lot  of  effort  was  put  to  find  the  most  relevant  variables  to  answer  research  questions  01  and  02:  

RQ01: How have trend reports been used in NPD? RQ02: What do users of trend reports think about trend reports? Robson suggests  the  use  of  frameworks  to  providing  descriptions  to  explanations,  but  also  to  prevent  survey   questionnaires  to  be  reduced  to  “a  fishing  trip  where  questions  are  added  simply  because  'it  seemed  a  good   idea  at  the  idea'”  (Robson,  2003).    Taking  this  advice  into  account  the  following  structure  was  created,  which   would  support  data  collection  and  analyses  throughout  the  whole  research:   Questions  from  the  groups  in  the  upper  row  would   refer  to  instances  from  individuals:  their  personal   characteristics  (group  01),  use  of  trend  reports   (group  02)  and  opinion  on  trend  reports  (group  03).   Questions  from  the  groups  in  the  lower  row  would   refer  to  what  individuals  report  about  the  companies   they  currently  work  for:  their  companies’   characteristics  (group  04)  and  how  much  they  invest   in  trend  reports  (group  05).   All  groups  would  later  be  correlated  in  a  series  of  

       Fig.  08:  Relevant  questions  from  survey.  

cross-­‐analyses between  selected  variables  in  order  to   find  interesting  relationships  between  variables.    

                                                                                                                          1

The  researcher  has  been  working  for  over  seven  years  with  design  and  trends  research  at  market  leader  companies  in-­‐house  and  design   consultancies.    

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For each  crossing  we  would  generate  an  expected  outcome  (assumptions).    A  total  of  28  assumptions  were   created  from  the  crossing  between  the  various  dependent  and  independent  variables.  Table  02  presents  those   assumptions  together  with  the  cross-­‐analyses:  

GROUP 01  -­‐  Individual  

A4. People  working   with  durables  have   been  using  TR  for   longer  than  people   working  only  with   non-­‐durables.  

A5. Wealthier   locations  have  been   using  TR  for  longer   than  less  wealthy   areas.  

A6. More   experienced  staff   have  less  interaction   with  TR  than  less   experienced.  

A7. Design  depts.   have  less  interaction   with  TR  than  non-­‐ design  depts.  

Not relevant.  

Not relevant.  

Not relevant.  

A8. More   experienced  staff  put   more  creative  value   to  TR  than  less   experienced.  

A9. Design  depts.  put   less  creative  value  in   TR  than  non-­‐design   depts.  

A10. Larger   companies  put  more   creative  value  to  TR   than  smaller   companies.  

Not relevant.  

Not relevant.  

A11. More   experienced  staff  put   more  financial  value   to  TR  than  less   experienced.  

A12. Design  depts.   put  less  financial   value  in  TR  than  non-­‐ design  depts.  

A13. Larger   companies  put  more   financial  value  to  TR   than  smaller   companies.  

A14. People  working   with  durables  put   more  financial  value   to  TR  than  people   working  only  with   non-­‐durables.  

A15. Wealthier   locations  put  more   financial  value  to  TR   than  less  wealthy   areas.  

A16. More   experienced  staff  put   more  NPD  value  to   TR  than  less   experienced.  

A17. Design  depts.   put  less  NPD  value  in   TR  than  non-­‐design   depts.  

A18. Larger   companies  put  more   NPD  value  to  TR  than   smaller  companies.  

A19. People  working   with  durables  put   more  NPD  value  to   TR  than  people   working  only  with   non-­‐durables.  

A20. Wealthier   locations  put  more   NPD  value  to  TR  than   less  wealthy  areas.  

Not relevant.  

A21. Design  depts.   make  less  purchases   of  TR  than  non-­‐ design  depts.  

A22. Larger   companies  make   more  purchases  of  TR   than  smaller   companies.  

A23. People  working   with  durables  make   more  purchases  of  TR   than  people  working   only  with  non-­‐ durables.  

A24. Wealthier   locations  make  more   purchases  than  less   wealthy  areas.  

Not relevant.  

A25. Design  depts.   create  more  TR  than   non-­‐design  depts.  

A26. Larger   companies  create   more  TR  than  smaller   companies.  

A27. People  working   with  durables  create   more  TR  than  people   working  only  with   non-­‐durables.  

A28. Wealthier   locations  create   more  TR  than  less   wealthy  areas.  

TIME USING  TR  

A3. Larger  companies   have  been  using  TR   for  longer  than   smaller  companies.  

INTERACTION

LOCATION

CREATIVE VALUE  

TYPE OF  PRODUCT  

FINANCIAL VALUE  

COMPANY SIZE  

A2. Design  depts.   have  been  using  TR   for  longer  than  non-­‐ design  depts.  

TR PURCHASE   TR  CREATION  

GROUP 05  –  Investment  in  TR  

DEPARTMENT

A1. More   experienced  staff   have  been  using  TR   for  longer  than  less   experienced.  

NPD VALUE  

GROUP 03  –  Opinion  on  TR  

GROUP 02  –  Use  of  TR    

Yrs of  EXPERIENCE  

GROUP 04  -­‐–  Company  

Table 03:  Assumptions  and  the  various  cross-­‐analyses.  

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Controlling the quality of quantitative data The reasons  for  choosing  an  online  survey  were  significantly  limited  by  two  important  variables:  time  and   money.  We  had  initially  aimed  at  300  participants  and  finding  a  large  number  of  participants  with  practically   no  costs  could  be  much  easily  achieved  by  the  use  of  online  tools.     Surveys  have  commonly  been  used  in  non-­‐experimental,  fixed  and  descriptive  designs  (Robson,  2003).  They   can  provide  simple  and  straightforward  information  about  a  group  of  people  and  if  they  are  well  structured   and  properly  piloted,  they  can  be  a  relatively  cheap  and  quick  way  to  obtain  objective  factual  information  (Bell,   2005;  Bryman,  2004).   However,  producing  a  really  engaging  and  effective  questionnaire  can  be  harder  than  it  sounds  –  choosing  the   right  wording,  for  example,  is  an  extremely  fiendish  task,  which  requires  a  lot  of  testing  and  peer  revision.   In  self-­‐completed  questionnaires  in  particular  there  are  several  issues  that  could  lead  to  unreliability  of  data  – some  of  them  are  described  below.  A  great  deal  of  attention  was  given  to  the  way  questions  could  be   understood  by  the  responders.  Of  course,  with  any  questionnaire-­‐based  surveys  data  can  be  affected  by  the   characteristics  of  the  respondents  –  their  memory,  knowledge,  experience,  motivation  and  personality   (Robson,  2003),  however  some  measures  can  be  taken  to  reduce  those  risks.  Below  is  the  list  of  some  of  the   measures  used  in  order  to  overcome  some  of  the  main  challenges  presented  by  this  type  of  survey:   1.  Language  barriers:   •

Sample: we  sampled  users  from  LinkedIn  and  Facebook  because  they  usually  have  some  good  level  of   literacy  in  the  English  language;    

No jargons  or  idiomatic  expressions:  the  questionnaire  only  employed  “every  day  English”.  

2. Responses'  accuracy  or  veracity:   •

Real and  concrete:  questions  only  related  to  repliers’  own  concrete  experiences  –  no  abstract  values   or  situations.  

Closed questions:  questions  were  mostly  closed  (single  and  multiple  option).  Open  questions  were   mostly  left  as  an  option  (repliers  could  choose  to  answer  it  or  not).  

Anonymity: by  assuring  anonymity,  respondents  could  feel  more  at  ease  and  open  to  say  what  they   wanted  to.  

3. Little  interest:   •

Credible invitation:  both  the  invitations  and  the  survey  intro  text  were  carefully  written,  so  as  to   reinforce  how  relevant,  interesting  and  serious  the  survey  was.    

26


The power  of  institution:  adding  the  University  of  Cambridge’s  logo  to  the  intro  was  also  felt  as  key  to   attracting  relevant  respondents.  

Credible interface:  one  of  the  main  reasons  for  choosing  Qualtrics  as  a  survey  tool  was  because  of  its   distinguishingly  clean  and  professional  looking  interface.    

Quick and  simple:  the  invitation  and  introduction  warned  repliers  that  the  questionnaire  could  be   quickly  completed  in  about  5  minutes.  

Information as  a  point  of  attraction:  repliers  were  offered  the  choice  of  obtaining  the  results  of  the   survey  if  they  provided  their  email  by  the  end  of  the  questionnaire.  

Openness: invitations  made  clear  that  everyone's  input  would  be  important  –  even  the  ones  with   little  or  no  experience  with  Trend  Reports  or  design.  

4. Ambiguous  terms  and  possible  misunderstandings:   •

Who, why,  what  for:  respondents  could  easily  find  why  that  survey  was  being  made,  where  it  would   be  used  for,  who  would  obtain  the  results,  how  to  get  in  touch  with  the  researcher,  etc.  

Clear instructions:  the  questionnaire  was  clearly  and  explicitly  divided  into  7  sections.  Each  one   contained  a  title  as  well  as  a  brief  explanation  of  what  was  expected  from  repliers  in  each  section.  

Concrete vs.  abstract:  The  term  “Trend  Reports”  was  deliberately  chosen  to  replace  the  term  “Trends   Research”.  The  term  “research”  (abstract  process)  could  generate  a  greater  level  of  ambiguity  than   “reports”  (concrete  documents).  

Explanation of  terms:  the  term  “Trend  Report”  was  explained  on  section  C  of  the  questionnaire,   before  all  questions  relating  to  them.  The  text  clearly  explained  the  main  characteristics  of  a  Trends   Report  (future  approach,  most  common  themes),  as  well  as  the  important  difference  they  hold  with   “user  research”  reports  and  competitor  analysis  reports.  

Caveats with generalisability Quantitative methodologies  also  bring  a  considerable  amount  of  concern  around  the  issues  of  validity,   reliability  and  generalisability  of  the  data.  Validity  refers  to  the  accuracy  of  the  results  presented.  Reliability  is   the  stability  or  consistency  with  which  something  is  measured.  Generalisability  is  about  the  extent  to  which  a   finding  is  generally  more  applicable  to  other  situations,  times  and  persons  involved  (Bryman,  2004;  Robson,   2003).  Unfortunately,  although  a  great  deal  has  been  done  to  ensure  the  reliability  of  this  survey,  it  is   important  to  emphasise  that  the  size  of  our  sample  cannot  be  constituted  as  sufficiently  rigorous  for  statistical  

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analyses. 200  valid  responses  is  indeed  a  very  reasonable  number,  however  considering  the  very  open   2

sampling strategy  we  applied,  the  ideal  number  of  participants  would  have  been  closer  to  400 .   As  mentioned  previously,  that  lack  of  robustness  in  statistical  validity  was  a  risk  the  research  team  was  aware   of  from  the  beginning.  The  outcomes  from  this  phase  were  therefore  taken  as  not  as  validation  but  rather  as   insightful  pointers  to  different  phenomena.  

4.1.2 Selecting and recruiting the sample Recruiting for  this  survey  was  done  via  the  researcher’s  personal  contact  network.  In  total  there  were  291   emails  sent  with  Invitations  separated  into  3  main  categories:  formal  (99  emails),  informal  (126  emails)  and   friends  (66  emails).  Each  category  was  written  with  the  same  content  but  with  subtle  differences  in  tone  for   3

each of  them  –  going  from  more  formal  and  scripted  to  less  formal  and  more  personal .     Though  very  time-­‐consuming,  making  sure  that  every  email  was  individually  sent  with  some  personal  remarks,   thus  showing  that  the  email  sent  was  not  spam,  is  believed  to  having  been  a  key  element  for  the  success  of  the   recruiting  process.  A  further  well-­‐received  tactic  was  the  use  of  professional  online  communities,  such  as   LinkedIn  and  Coroflot  –  illustrated  with  more  detail  on  table  03  below:     ONLINE   NUMBER  OF   COMMUNITY   USERS  

TYPES OF  USERS  

MOST COMMON   ACTIVITIES  

LinkedIn

90 million  

Professionals and  students  from  most  different  areas.  

Coroflot

150,000  

Creative professionals  and  students  (industrial,  graphic,   fashion,  interior,  textile  and  interaction  designers,   architects,  illustrators,  design  managers,  etc).  

Sharing curriculum  vitae,   portfolios,  business   opportunities,  etc.  

Table 04:  Networking  websites  used  for  recruiting  in  the  survey.

This time  the  invitations  were  sent  to  the  network  ‘groups’,  which  are  searchable  features  that  allow  users  to   establish  new  business  relationships,  share  opinions  about  a  subject,  etc.  Although  these  groups  can  be   created  in  any  subject  by  any  member  of  the  website,  in  most  cases,  there  is  a  great  level  of  specialised   knowledge  narrowed  down  by  a  domain  or  industry.  That  characteristic  was  particularly  interesting  for  the   recruitment  of  our  web-­‐survey.  Taking  advantage  from  that,  invitations  were  sent  to  groups  related  to  relevant   issues  to  this  research  -­‐  product  design,  innovation  and  trends  research.  A  list  of  the  names  of  the  assessed  53   LinkedIn  and  11  Coroflot  groups  can  be  found  in  the  appendices  (App.01  and  App.02).   It  is  important  to  note  that  although  we  have  employed  a  “non-­‐probability”  or  “convenient”  sampling,  one   could  argue  that  the  element  of  randomness  was  rather  low  in  our  strategy  (Robson,  2003).  People  were  

                                                                                                                        2 3

Considering  a  very  large  population  in  a  situation  with  95%  confidence  level  and  a  5%  margin  of  error.      As  the  survey  was  anonymized,  it  is  not  possible  to  say  what  proportion  of  each  group  took  part  in  the  research.   28  


selected from  a  specific  part  of  the  researcher’s  personal  network  (designers  and  people  who  work  with   design)  and  the  groups  from  which  we  obtained  a  large  part  of  our  sample  belonged  to  groups  related  to   design  and/or  product  innovation.  This  ensured  that  respondents  were  suitably  knowledgeable  and  thus  able   to  provide  valid  responses  to  the  survey.  

4.1.3 Piloting the survey Piloting a  questionnaire  is  essential  to  the  conduction  of  an  efficient  survey  as  it  can  prevent  a  series  of   mistakes  that  are  hard  to  see  solely  by  the  researcher.  As  Gray  puts  it,  “It  is  naïve  to  believe  that  standardized   questions  will  receive  standardized,  rational,  responses”  (Gray,  2009).   Such  is  the  case  that  the  survey  designed  for  this  study  went  through  seventeen  updated  versions  until  it  was   finally  put  online.  The  updates  were  the  outcome  of  one-­‐to-­‐one  trials  that  the  researcher  carried  out  with  ten   different  potential  participants.  Among  them,  designers  and  non-­‐designers  from  relatively  different  age  groups   and  company  sizes.  They  answered  the  questionnaire  with  the  researcher  by  their  side,  verbally  expressing   how  they  understood  each  question.     The  piloting  phase  provided  the  researcher  with  a  better  understanding  of  which  question  worked  better  for   what  method  (quantitative  or  qualitative).      

4.1.4 Finding the survey engine 4

The web  offers  a  surprising  number  of  qualitative  engines  at  low  or  even  no  cost  at  all .  The  difficult  part  is   finding  which  of  those  are  actually  serious  companies  and  whom  you  can  trust  with  such  sensitive  data.     After  careful  consideration,  the  company  we  have  chosen  was  Qualtrics.  Amongst  the  advantages  the   company  presented  were:   •

The researcher  interface  was  easy  with  ‘point-­‐and-­‐click’  edit  system  with  the  possibility  of  advanced   options  with  ‘skip  or  display  logic’  to  customize  which  questions  the  respondents  would  see.  

The responders’  interface  was  also  clean  and  intuitive.  The  layout  of  the  page  looked  much  more   professional,  allowing  more  choices  of  customisation  in  the  look-­‐and-­‐feel  of  the  survey,  such  as   including  the  logo  of  one’s  institution.  

Respectable list  of  clients  -­‐  many  of  the  Fortune  500  companies  and  the  world's  top  universities.  

Friendly and  efficient  customer  support.  

                                                                                                                        4

The  most  popular  ones:  Qualtrics,  SurveyMonkey,  Zoomerang,  SurveyGizmo,  GoogleForms  and  Wufoo.   29  


4.2 Data compilation Compiling the  data  was  done  in  two  sequential  phases:   •

Filter the  sample  and  answers  for  increased  validity.  

Then, produce  cross-­‐analysis.  

We now  examine  these  two  phases  in  more  detail.  

4.2.1 Filter from 378 to 200 responders A satisfactory  response  was  obtained  from  recruitment:  378  respondents  completed  the  survey  either  fully  or   partially,  with    response  rate  of  approximately  53%.  However,  in  order  to  ensure  more  robustness  to  the   acquired  data,  we  applied  a  filtering  process  to  separate  the  valid  responses  from  unfruitful  replies.     Unfortunately,  cutting  had  to  be  brutal.  In  order  to  ensure  a  more  homogenised  sample,  nearly  half  of  the   5

initial responders  had  to  be  excluded  from  the  analysis  phase.  The  final  200  valid  replies  were  from   responders  who:   •

were practitioners  (employed,  unemployed  and  freelancers).  Academics  and  students  were  excluded   st

from the  1  question  onwards.     •

had consumers  as  their  end  users  –  meaning  that  B2B  responders  were  excluded.    

claimed having  used  trend  reports  at  least  once.  Sadly  our  initial  idea  of  comparing  users  and  non-­‐ users  of  trend  reports  had  to  be  dropped  because  of  the  unexpected  low  number  of  responders  who   said  they  had  never  used  trend  reports  (just  41  respondents).    

have answered  all  obligatory  questions.  As  predicted,  that  was  the  most  substantial  cut  in  the  survey,   but  it  was  an  important  measure  to  simplify  data  analysis.  

were from  Europe,  North  America  and  South  America.  There  were  indeed  a  small  number  of  replies   from  Asia,  Africa  and  Australia,  but  they  were  not  enough  to  represent  those  groups.  

presented consistent  statements.  There  were  only  few  instances  (8  out  of  378)  in  which  responders   were  excluded  because  of  contradictory  replies.  

were users  or  users/creators  of  trend  reports    

                                                                                                                        5

Having  an  exact  number  of  replies  in  the  analysis  wasn’t  a  deliberate  decision,  but  a  lucky  coincidence.   30  


Final demographic For the  most  part,  we  had  a  relatively  even  distribution  of  our  independent  variables  (years  of  experience,   department,  product  type  and  company  size).  Location  was  the  only  variable  that  presented  an  exceedingly   6

large discrepancy  between  groups :   •

Years of  experience:  less  than  5  years  (17%  or  34  resp.),  6  to  10  years  (29%  or  57  resp.),  11  to  15  years   (29%  or  57  resp.),  more  than  15  years  (26%  or  52  resp.)  

Department: design  (56%  or  112  resp.),  non-­‐design  (44%  or  88  resp.)  

Type of  product:  durables  (59%  or  118  resp.),  non-­‐durables  (41%  or  82  resp.)  

Company size7:  micro  (38%  or  75  resp.),  SME  (39%  or  77  resp.),  large  (24%  or  48  resp.)  

Location: Europe  (70%  or  140  resp.),  North  America  (16%  or  31  resp.),  South  America  (15%  or  29  resp.)  

In order  to  make  the  results  more  manageable,  some  categories  had  to  be  reclassified  into  smaller  groups.   With  ‘department’,  for  example,  seven  possible  choices  (Design,  Marketing,  Planning,  Engineering,  Production,   Administrative  and  Other)  were  reduced  to  only  two  choices  in  the  analysis  (‘design’  and  ‘non-­‐design’).  It  is   important  to  note  that  those  changes  did  not  represent  any  disturbance  in  the  examination  of  survey  results.   The  table  in  appendix  032  (App.  03)  describes  the  final  demographic  of  the  survey  with  more  details.  

4.2.2 Cross-analysis Once the  data  was  filtered,  we  applied  a  series  of  simple  cross-­‐references  on  Excel  using  pivot-­‐tables.  We  did  a   brief  trial  with  more  traditional  statistical  tools,  such  as  SPSS  software,  but  Excel  was  considered  a  simpler  and   more  straightforward  tool  since  the  researcher  was  already  familiar  with  that  particular  type  of  analysis.     In  order  to  ensure  the  quality  of  the  quantitative  analysis,  besides  referring  to  related  literature,  the   researcher  has  also  consulted  statisticians  and  people  who  were  familiar  with  this  type  of  analysis.            

                                                                                                                        6 7

Those  ‘distortions’  or  ‘vices’  in  the  resulted  sample  were  also  carefully  considered  in  the  analysis.    Definitions  are  as  follows:  Micro  (less  than  10  employees),  SME  (between  10  and  2,500  employees)  and  Large  (more  than  2,500  

employees). This  classification  was  created  by  the  researcher,  based  on  the  original  definition  for  SMEs,  according  to  the  European   Commission  (2003).  A  figure  of  the  original  document  can  be  found  in  appendix  04.  

31


The analyses  were  divided  in  three  groups:  

Fig.  09:  Cross-­‐analysis  from  the  web-­‐survey.    

4.3 Results We now  revisit  the  assumptions  one  by  one  bringing  out  the  most  interesting  results  from  each  category  and   the  various  cross-­‐analyses.    

4.3.1 Group 02 vs. Groups 1 and 4: how the u s e of trend reports can be affected by the characteristics of person and company. The participant’s  individual  use  of  trend  reports  were  measured  by  how  long  they  have  been  using  them  and   by  how  intensively  they  were  interacting  with  them.  It  was  not  surprising  to  see  that  more  experienced   participants  rated  more  highly  for  the  use  of  trend  reports.  Design  departments  also  appeared  to  use  them   more  intensively  than  expected.  

32


GROUP 01  -­‐  Individual  

INTERACTION

GROUP 02  –  Use  of  Trend  reports  

TIME USING  TR  

GROUP 04  -­‐–  Company  

Yrs of  EXPERIENCE  

DEPARTMENT

COMPANY SIZE  

TYPE OF  PRODUCT  

LOCATION

A1. More   experienced,  more   time  using  TR.  

A2. Design,  more   time  using  TR.  

A3. Larger   companies,  more   time  using  TR.  

A4. Durables,  more   time  using  TR.  

A5. Wealthier   locations,  more  time   using  TR.  

REINFORCED 62%  of  participants   with  ‘more  than  15   years’  of  professional   experience  have  been   using  trend  reports   for  ‘over  10  years’.   Conversely,  59%  of   participants  with  ‘5  or   less  years’  of   experience  have  been   using  them  for  ‘1  to  3   years’.  

REINFORCED There  was  barely  any   difference  for  how   long  design  and  non-­‐ design  departments   have  been  using   trend  reports,  but     ‘design’  was  using   trend  reports  for  a  bit   longer  than  ‘non-­‐ design’  

UNEXPECTED No  major  differences   between  groups.    

UNEXPECTED No  major  differences   between  groups.    

REINFORCED ‘North  America’  had  by   far  the  largest   percentage  of   responders  saying  they   have  been  working   with  trend  reports  for   ‘over  10  years’  (39%).   By  contrast,  59%  of   ‘South  Americans’  said   they  have  been   working  with  trend   reports  between  ‘1   and  3’  years.  

A6. More   experienced,  less   interaction.  

A7. Design,  less   interaction.  

Not relevant.  

Not relevant.  

Not relevant.  

UNEXPECTED More  experienced   designers  have  more   interaction  than   novice,  except  for   ‘note  making’.  In   ‘reading  intensity’,  for   example,  62%  of   experienced  and  41%   of  novice  said  they   ‘read  trend  reports’   carefully.    

VERY UNEXPECTED   Responders  from   ‘design’  departments   showed  some  more   intensive  use  of  trend   reports  across  most   questions,  except  for   ‘note  making’  in   which  both  had  very   similar  results.     ‘Design’  was   particularly  higher  in   ‘referral  during  and   after  project’.  

No major  differences   between  groups.    

No major  differences   between  groups.    

VERY UNEXPECTED   Responders  from   ‘South  America’  were   more  positive  in  all   categories.  ‘Europe’   had  the  least   interaction  in  most  of   them.  

Table 05:  Cross-­‐analysis  from  the  web-­‐survey.  

4.3.2 Group 03 vs. Groups 1 and 4: how the o p i n i o n on trend reports can be affected by the characteristics of person and company. 8

Participant’s individual  opinions  were  measured  by  ‘creative’,  ‘financial’  and  ‘NPD’  values  of  trend  reports .   More  experienced  participants  seem  to  have  higher  opinions  about  trend  reports  they  have  worked  with,   except  for  ‘NPD  value’.  Once  again,  ‘design  departments’  have  been  more  positive  than  first  expected,  putting   some  more  positive  ratings  in  particular  to  ‘creative’  and  ‘NPD  values’.  ‘South  America’  has  stood  out  by  a   quite  enthusiastic  opinion  for  ‘creative  value’.      

                                                                                                                        8

The  questions  related  to  each  value  of  trend  reports  (creative,  financial  and  NPD)  can  be  found  in  the  appendix  03.   33  


GROUP 01  -­‐  Individual   Yrs  of  EXPERIENCE  

FINANCIAL VALUE   NPD  VALUE  

GROUP 03  –  Opinion  on  Trend  reports  

CREATIVE VALUE  

DEPARTMENT

GROUP 04  -­‐  Company   COMPANY  SIZE  

TYPE OF  PRODUCT  

LOCATION

A8. More   experienced,  more   creative  value.  

A9. Design,  less   creative  value.  

A10. Larger   companies,  more   creative  value.  

Not relevant.  

Not relevant.  

REINFORCED No  major  differences   between  groups,   except  for   participants  with  ‘5  or   less’  years  of   professional   experience  being   much  less  positive   with  regards  to  trend   reports  being  ‘ahead-­‐ of-­‐the-­‐curve’  -­‐  35%  of   them  ‘disagreed’  that   category,  while  25%   of  ‘more  than  15   years’  have  ‘strongly   agreed’  on  the  same   category.    

VERY UNEXPECTED   Both  groups  had   exceptionally  similar   results,  but  for  one   category:  44%  of   ‘design’  and  31%  of   ‘non-­‐design’  have   ‘strongly  agreed'   about  trend  reports   having  been  'inspiring'   to  them.    

UNEXPECTED Very  similar  results,   except  for   participants  from   ‘larger’  companies     being  a  bit  less   positive  with  regards   to  ‘inspiring’  -­‐  17%  of   them  'disagreed'  that   trend  reports  were  an   on  that  issue.  

UNEXPECTED ‘Durable’  products   were  a  bit  less   positive  with  regards   to  how  ‘inspiring’  and   ‘ahead-­‐of-­‐the-­‐curve’   the  trend  reports  they   have  worked  with   have  been  for  them.  

VERY UNEXPECTED   'South  American'   participants  were   more  positive  in  all   categories,  except  for   ‘reliable’  in  which   they  are  all  very   similar.  ‘South   Americans’  showed   particularly  a  lot  of   enthusiasm  in  with   trend  reports  having   been  'inspiring'  for   them  -­‐  66%  of  them   'strongly  agreed'  to   that  issue.    

A11. More   experienced,  more   financial  value.  

A12. Design,  less   financial  value.  

A13. Larger   companies,  more   financial  value.  

A14. Durables,  more   financial  value.  

A15. Wealthier   locations,  more   financial  value.  

REINFORCED 73%  of  participants   with  ‘more  than  15   years’  of  experience   ‘agreed’  to  trend   reports  being  ‘money   well  spent’.  32%  of   participants  with  ‘5  or   less  years’  of   experience  have   ‘disagreed’  on  the   same  category.  

UNEXPECTED No  major  differences   between  groups.    

REINFORCED Responders  from   'micro'  companies   were  a  lot  less   positive:  27%  of  them   'disagree'  for  'money   well  spent'.  

UNEXPECTED No  major  differences   between  groups.    

VERY UNEXPECTED   No  major  differences   between  groups,  but   ‘Europe’  this  time  was   the  one  with  less   positive  replies.   ‘South  America’  was   the  most  positive.  

A16. More   experienced,  more   NPD  value.  

A17. Design,  less  NPD   value.  

A18. Larger   companies,  more  NPD   value.  

A19. Durables,  more   NPD  value.  

A20. Wealthier   locations,  more  NPD   value.  

UNEXPECTED Participants  with  ‘5  or   less  years’  of   experience  were   more  positive  than   others:  only  26%  of   them  think  trend   reports  are  'not   essential',  while  all   others  show  higher   figures  (about  40%   each).  

UNEXPECTED No  major  differences   between  groups.   ‘Design’  was  slightly   more  positive  –  36%   of  them  and  43%  of   ‘non-­‐design’  said   trend  reports  are  ‘not   essential’.    

VERY UNEXPECTED   Participants  from   ‘larger’  companies   were  less  positive:   54%  of  them  think   trend  reports  are  'not   essential',  while   others  are  around   35%  in  the  same   issue.    

VERY UNEXPECTED   Participants  working   with  ‘durables’  saw   less  NPD  value  in   trend  reports:  49%  of   them  said  they  think   of  trend  reports  as   'not  essential'  (32%   for  non-­‐durables).  

REINFORCED No  major  differences   between  groups.   ‘North  America’  was   the  most  positive  –   10%  of  them  think   trend  reports  are  a   ‘must  have’  (3%  of   ‘Europe’  and  no  one   from  ‘South  America’   in  the  same  category).    

Table 06:  Cross-­‐analysis  from  the  web-­‐survey.  

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4.3.3 Group 05 vs. Groups 1 and 4: how the i n v e s t m e n t in trend reports can be affected by the characteristics of person and company. Participants have  given  some  indication  on  how  much  their  companies  invest  in  trend  reports  by  the  number   of  reports  they  purchase  and  create  a  year.  Not  surprisingly,  the  larger  the  financial  resources,  the  bigger  the   investment  in  trend  reports.  In  general,  wealthier  countries  and  larger  companies  have  indeed  presented   larger  numbers  for  purchase  and  creation.    

GROUP 01  -­‐  Individual   Yrs  of  EXPERIENCE  

DEPARTMENT

COMPANY SIZE  

Not relevant.  

A21. Design,  less   purchases.  

A22. Larger   companies,  more   purchases.  

A23. Durables,  more   purchases.  

A24. Wealthier   locations,  more   purchases.  

No major  differences   between  groups.    

UNEXPECTED No  major  differences   between  groups.    

REINFORCED Responders  from   'micro'  companies   said  their  companies   purchase  much  less   reports  than  the   others.  68%  of  them   don't  buy  any  trend   report  at  all.  That   number  pales  in   comparison  to  the   ones  from  responders   from  'larger'   companies  -­‐  29%  of   them  said  their   companies  buy  'more   than  5'  trend  reports   a  year.  

UNEXPECTED No  major  differences   between  groups.    

REINFORCED No  big  differences  in   ‘location’  but   wealthier  regions   (North  America  and   Europe)  seem  to   purchase  a  bit  more   than  poorer  regions   (South  America).    

Not relevant.  

A25. Design,  more   creation.  

A26. Larger   companies,  more   creation.  

A27. Durables,  more   creation.  

A28. Wealthier   locations,  more   creation.  

No major  differences   between  groups.    

UNEXPECTED No  major  differences   between  groups.    

REINFORCED Larger  companies  are   the  ones  who  'create'   more  trend  reports   than  others  -­‐  38%   said  'more  than  5'   and  25%  said  '3  to  5'   reports.  That's  29%   and  12%  for  SMEs   (respectively).  

UNEXPECTED ‘Durables’  showed   fewer  percentages  for   their  yearly  creation   of  trend  reports:  38%   of  them  said    'none'   and  21%  said  'over  5   reports'  (23%  and   28%  respectively  for   non-­‐durables).  

REINFORCED Clear  difference  -­‐  39%   of  'North  Americans'   said  they  create   'more  than  5'  trend   reports  a  year  while   48%  of  'South   Americans'  said  they   create  no  trend   report  at  all.  Answers   from  'Europeans'   were  spread  very   evenly.  

TR CREATION  

GROUP 05  –  Investment  in  trend  reports  

TR PURCHASE  

GROUP 04  -­‐  Company   TYPE  OF  PRODUCT  

LOCATION

Table 07:  Cross-­‐analysis  from  the  web-­‐survey.  

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4.4 Discussion Taking the  research  questions  as  a  starting  point,  this  survey  has  explored  real  experiences  of  how   professionals  in  general  have  been  using  trends  reports  and  what  is  their  opinion  about  them.  It  was  also   obtained  some  idea  of  how  much  investment  companies  have  been  putting  into  acquiring  and  creating  those   types  of  reports.     The  results  from  the  cross-­‐analysis  have  shown  very  little  difference  between  most  groups  in  general.  The   most  surprising  result  to  the  researcher  was  the  low  level  of  different  opinions  between  design  and  non-­‐design   departments.  From  what  was  previously  seen  in  the  literature,  it  was  expected  a  much  less  positive  position   from  the  design  sector  towards  trend  reports.   The  low  number  of  people  who  said  they  had  never  used  a  trend  report  before  was  also  surprising.  The   researcher  speculates  some  possible  explanations  for  that  situation:   •

The use  of  trend  reports  has  indeed  become  a  widespread  common  practice;  

Despite the  explanatory  text  in  the  survey,  people  could  have  mistaken  trend  reports  for  other  types   of  reports  (competitor  analysis,  user  research,  etc);  

Participants just  completed  the  questionnaire  because  they  were  curious  about  the  results.  

There was  also  a  high  number  of  participants  who  said  their  companies  don’t  purchase  any  reports  at  all  –   that  could  potentially  be  an  indication  for  the  increasing  influence  of  the  internet  as  main  source  for  trend   forecasting  material.  That  could  also  potentially  reinforce  the  power  of  informal  research  in  that  scenario.   Something  that  has  also  caught  our  eyes  was  the  relatively  negative  scores  for  being  ‘ahead-­‐of-­‐the-­‐curve’   across  all  groups  –  a  characteristic  that  probably  most  people  would  expect  from  a  trend  report.   On  the  whole  we  observed  quite  positive  results  towards  the  use  and  opinion  of  trend  reports.  It  seems  like   people  do  use  them  fairly  frequently  and  they  do  see  them  generally  as  a  good  tool.  However  the  very  low   level  of  ‘must  have’  and  the  relatively  high  number  of  ‘not  essential’  answers  in  ‘NPD  value’  was  certainly   intriguing.     This  survey  was  designed  to  provide  an  essentially  descriptive  analysis  in  the  use  and  opinion  of  trend  reports.   Some  of  the  constructs  could  be  used  to  explore  relationships  more  statistically.  In  hindsight,  had  more   attention  been  given  to  the  potential  statistical  analysis,  some  of  the  questions  might  have  been  phrased   differently.  As  a  result,  several  questions  were  not  included  in  the  final  analysis,  but  they  did  provide  useful   contextual  information.    

36


Key learnings for next phase As mentioned  previously,  the  main  purpose  of  the  quantitative  phase  was  to  inform  the  design  of  the  central   methodology  of  this  study  –  the  qualitative  interviews.  Below  is  a  list  of  those  key  findings,  which  will  be   explored  further  in  the  following  chapter:  

Fig.  10:  Key  learnings  from  the  quantitative  phase  to  the  qualitative  phase.  

37


CHAPTER 05  

Qualitative interviews

5.1 Overview In the  previous  section  the  first  sub-­‐set  of  research  questions  was  answered  via  a  quantitative  methodology.   As  it  is  common  with  quantitative  approaches  (Bell,  2005;  Robson,  2003),  the  survey  we  designed  was   deliberately  aimed  at  more  generic  and  superficial  statements  about  the  use  of  trend  reports.  This  section,   however,  discusses  the  second  sub-­‐set  of  research  questions,  which  was  approached  through  a  qualitative   methodology,  narrowing  the  scope  of  this  investigation  and  focusing  on  issues  specifically  related  to  product   design.         In  a  series  of  one-­‐to-­‐one  semi-­‐structured  interviews  we  asked  eleven  designers  and  design  managers  about:   RQ03: What do they (as designers who work with product design) think about trends research and trend reports? RQ04: How do they (as designers who work with product design) see the role of trends research and trend reports in product design? The  quantitative  phase  focused  solely  on  getting  real,  tangible  data.  However  the  qualitative  phase  aims  not   only  at  obtaining  data  on  real  experiences  (RQ03),  but  it  also  includes  more  open  and  abstract  questions,   discussing  what  participants  would  consider  to  be  the  ideal  version  of  a  trend  report  for  their  field  (RQ04).     First  some  considerations  are  made  with  regards  to  the  use  of  a  qualitative  methodology  and  its  major   benefits  and  challenges.  The  design  and  analysis  of  the  interviews  are  then  discussed,  and  the  chapter  ends   with  the  interpretation  of  the  outcomes  from  the  interviews  followed  by  a  discussion  of  the  entire  chapter.  

38


5.2 Some considerations on qualitative interviews One of  the  main  advantages  of  semi-­‐structured  interviews  is  that  they  allow  for  a  flexible  and  more  tailored   approach  to  the  investigation.  The  exact  question  wording  can  be  changed  on  the  spot,  adapting  to  each   particular  interviewee’s  understanding  (Crilly,  2005).   The  more  ‘casual’  tone  of  these  types  of  interviews  can  give  the  impression  of  unscripted  conversations,  but  in   fact  the  “behind-­‐the-­‐scenes”  of  such  interviews  are  very  complex  and  require  a  certain  experience  with  them   in  order  to  get  the  best  results  (Robson,  2003,  Mason,  2005).  On  one  side,  qualitative  researchers  have  to  keep   the  interviewee  engaged,  maintaining  spontaneity  and  encouraging  them  to  talk  freely  without  feeling   pressured  or  inhibited  by  the  questionnaire.  On  the  other,  they  have  to  keep  the  focus  of  the  research,  making   sure  that  all  research  issues  are  systematically  covered.   Bias  is  also  a  common  concern  with  qualitative  research.  Interviewers  have  to  take  great  care  in  avoiding   leading  or  biased  questions.  Some  authors,  such  as  Mason  (2002),  do  not  even  believe  ‘neutrality’  is  possible.   As  a  consequence,  qualitative  researchers  have  to  constantly  reflect  upon  their  interference  and  influence  in   the  process  (Mason,  2002;  Flick,  2006;  Robson,  2003).     The  legitimacy  of  the  research  can  also  be  a  major  concern  here.  However,  since  the  role  of  a  qualitative   researcher  is  so  prominent,  measures  of  validity  and  reliability  are  not  as  ‘black  &  white’  as  they  are  in   quantitative  approaches.  In  that  case,  Mason  suggests  for  example,  that  “this  concern  should  be  expressed  in   terms  of  ensuring  –  and  demonstrating  to  others  –  that  data  generations  and  analysis  have  not  only  been   appropriate  to  the  research  questions,  but  also  thorough,  careful,  honest  and  accurate”  (Mason,  2002).   Robson  (2003)  suggests  a  number  of  techniques  to  rule  out  threats  to  validity  in  qualitative  designs:   •

Triangulations of  data,  observers,  methods  and  theories;  

Peer debriefing  and  support;  

Post-­‐interview verification  and  returning  materials  such  as  transcripts  to  respondents;  

Negative case  analysis  or  ‘playing  devils  advocate’;  

Audit trail,  keeping  track  of  raw  data  as  well  as  details  of  coding  and  analysis.  

In any  case,  most  authors  agree  that  a  thorough,  rigorous  and  transparent  approach  is  the  key  to  increase   reliability  in  qualitative  research  (Mason,  2002;  Robson,  2003;  Collins,  2010;  Flick,  2006).    

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5.3 Designing the interview 5.3.1 Sampling As stated  before,  this  phase  focuses  on  the  realm  of  product  design.  Thus  unlike  the  sample  from  the   quantitative  phase,  which  was  more  or  less  open  to  varied  types  of  professionals,  this  time  the  recruiting   strategy  was  much  more  targeted.  This  phase  had  only  participants  who  were  either  designing  products   themselves  or  were  directly  working  with  product  designers.   As  seen  from  the  literature  review,  most  studies  have  aimed  at  talking  to  design  managers  and  design   directors,  leaving  senior  and  middleweight  designers  in  a  more  secondary  role.  As  a  response  to  that  gap,  this   research  has  made  a  conscious  effort  of  flipping  that  situation  around.  Thus  from  the  eleven  interviewees,  only   three  were  in  a  management  position  (table  07).   1

Interviewee

COMPANY 2

INDIVIDUAL

Identifier

Industry

Size /   reach  

Location

Seniority

Education

Experience with   TR  

EI-­‐03*

Consumer electronics  

Large /   Global  

London

Mid-­‐weight

MA, Product  Design  

Use +  create  

Senior  

MA, Product  Design  

Use

EI-­‐20*

Mid-­‐weight

MA, Graphic  Design  

Create

EI-­‐99*

Manager

MA, Graphic  Design  

Create

Senior  

MA, Product  Design  

Use

Head of  studio  

MA, Product  Design  

Use  

EI-­‐07*

EI-­‐49* EI-­‐42   EI-­‐86  

Sportswear

EI-­‐57

3

Large /   Global  

London

Large /   Global  

London

Senior  

MA, Product  Design  

Use  

SME /   Global  

London

Senior  

MA, Product  Design  

Use  

EI-­‐78

Jewellery

SME /   Local  

São Paulo  

Mid-­‐weight

BA, Product  Design  

Use +  create  

EI-­‐47*

Design Agencies  

SME /   Local  

São Paulo  

Manager

MA, Product  Design  

Use  

SME /   Global  

London

Senior  

MA, Product  Design  

Use  

EI-­‐87

Table 08:  Interviewees’  profiles.  

                                                                                                                        1

Randomly  coded  for  increased  measures  of  confidentiality.    As  referred  in  the  quantitative  phase:  Micro  (less  than  10  employees),  SME  (between  10  and  2,500  employees)  and  Large  (more  than   2,500  employees).     3  This  participant  used  to  create  trend  reports  in  a  previous  job.  He/she  no  longer  creates  them  at  his/her  current  job.   2

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Six out  of  the  eleven  participants  belonged  to  the  researcher’s  personal  network  (see  table  07)  and  were   contacted  individually  via  email.  The  other  six  interviewees  were  contacted  via  personal  messages  on   4

LinkedIn . The  emails  presented  the  researcher  as  an  MPhil  student  from  Cambridge  University  and  explained  that:   •

The researcher  was  looking  for  design  managers  and  product  designers  to  take  part  in  interviews  on   the  use  and  value  of  trends  research  as  well  as  trends  reports  in  product  design;  

The main  objective  of  the  research  was  to  study  the  impact  of  future  forecasting  in  product   development;  

The ultimate  goal  of  the  interviews  was  to  point  out  to  some  latent  problems  and  possible   improvements  in  that  type  of  praxis.  

Data would  be  obtained  via  audio  recording,  and  its  content  would  be  kept  anonymous  and  strictly   confidential.  The  interviewees  would  also  sign  off  on  all  the  quotes  used  in  the  final  work.  

Each interview  would  take  about  1  hour  and  that  although  the  researcher  was  suggesting  some   specific  dates,  there  was  some  flexibility  on  when  the  interviews  could  take  place.  

Once that  email  was  replied  to,  and  before  the  invitation  was  accepted,  the  researcher  confirmed  with   possible  participants  if  they  would  be  OK  with  being  interviewed  at  their  offices,  as  we  needed  to  do  a  quick   analysis  on  actual  trend  reports  made  by  or  for  their  companies.  They  were  also  told  that  no  pictures  would   be  taken,  but  that  the  researcher  did  need  to  make  a  quick  structural  analysis  of  the  reports  in  situ  alongside   the  interviewee.     Though  small  and  not  all-­‐encompassing  for  practical  reasons,  our  sample  still  presented  a  very  fruitful  platform   in  terms  of  qualitative  investigation.  By  including,  for  example,  some  participants  that  belonged  to  the  same   company,  we  had  a  good  opportunity  to  analyse  different  points-­‐of-­‐view  of  the  same  trends  research   strategies.   All  participants  were  from  well-­‐known  and  leading  companies  and  had  been  working  directly  with  product   5

design for  at  least  four  years ,  with  varied  levels  of  experiences  with  trend  reports  (see  table  07).        

                                                                                                                        4

This  time,  instead  of  just  sending  open  invitations,  specific  LinkedIn  groups  were  used  as  a  means  to  scout  and  to  get  in  touch  with   relevant  professionals.   5  There  was  an  average  of  8  years  of  total  professional  experience  among  them.  

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Although the  quantitative  results  showed  no  major  differences  between  different  group  characteristics,  it  was   also  decided  to  include  participants  developing  products  with  different  lifecycles.  In  total,  seven  companies   were  assessed:  two  large  consumer  electronic  companies  (mobile  phones  and  home  appliances),  three   fashion/apparel  companies  (sportswear  and  jewellery)  and  two  design  agencies  designing  products  for   different  brands.   In  order  to  avoid  biased  propositions,  our  sampling  strategy  also  included  designers  who  were  openly  against   or  not  at  all  bothered  about  trends  research  in  their  daily  process.  That  kind  of  information  was  obtained  with   participants  usually  at  the  moment  of  invitation.  In  all  cases,  the  researcher  made  sure  that  no  side  was  being   taken  –  the  researcher  didn’t  present  herself  as  either  against  or  for  trend  reports.     A  final  consideration  was  made  with  regards  to  ‘location’.  As  the  previous  phase  had  shown  some  interesting   discrepancies  from  South  America,  the  researcher  took  the  opportunity  to  interview  two  designers  in  São   Paulo,  Brazil.  The  low  number  of  interviewees  in  this  case  was  mostly  due  to  lack  of  time  and  resources.   Considering  the  type  of  methodology  and  specially  the  lack  of  major  differences  between  the  interviews  from   São  Paulo  and  London,  the  researcher  decided  to  disregard  the  large  discrepancies  in  this  aspect  of  the   sample.  

5.3.2 Visual props and exercises Props are  good  conversation  starters  and  they  also  help  to  “break  the  ice”,  stimulating  interviewees  to  be   more  talkative  (Mason,  2002;  Bryman,  2004).  In  our  case,  since  our  target  was  supposedly  more  visual,  we   have  also  made  an  effort  to  bring  a  set  of  visual  props  so  to  make  the  1-­‐hour  sessions  more  dynamic  and   hopefully  more  engaging  as  well.   In  total,  four  visual  props  were  used  in  the  interviews:  trend  reports,  trend  map  analysis,  trends  research   ‘should/should  not’  and  the  NPD  value  results  from  the  previous  quantitative  phase  (see  Fig.  11).     Apart  from  some  few  exceptions,  the  exercises  were  followed  in  that  particular  order.  That  arrangement  was   done  so  that  the  interview  would  flow  from  more  specific  and  real  examples  to  more  ideal  and  broader  issues   related  to  trend  reports.  We  now  present  the  main  ideas  behind  each  exercise.  

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Fig. 11:  Exercises  from  qualitative  interviews  -­‐  trend  report  analysis,  trend  map  analysis,  should/should  not  and  trend   reports’  NPD  value  (clockwise  order).  

Exercise 1: Trend report analysis Participants were  asked  to  bring  a  trend  report  made  by  or  for  their  companies.  There  were  no  restrictions  to   what  type  or  number  of  reports  they  could  bring,  as  long  as  they  had  actually  used  it  (or  them).     The  topics  related  to  this  exercise  were:   •

What are  considered  good  and  bad  practices?  

How did  they  use  that  specific  report?    

How useful  or  inspiring  was  it  for  them?  Why  have  they  brought  up  that  specific  report?  What  do  they   like  and  don’t  like  about  it?  How  did  it  compare  to  others  they  have  used  in  the  past?  

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How do  they  see  the  relationship  between  in-­‐house  and  outsourced  reports?    

What processes  their  companies  have?  Who  creates  them?  Who  commissions  them?    

What participants  considered  being  trend  reports?  

Exercise 2: Trend map analysis Participants were  presented  with  a  ‘trend  map’,  which  was  a  graphical  representation  (created  by  the   researcher  for  this  study)  that  illustrates  the  interaction  between  trends  research  and  the  design  process  (see   Fig.  14).     They  were  provided  with  colourful  pens  and  were  encouraged  to  make  notes  on  the  sheet.  The  main  objective   for  this  exercise  was  to  obtain  information  on  good  and  bad  practices,  but  also  to  understand:     •

Where they  are  in  the  process  and  which  activities  they  usually  relate  to  each  phase;  

What is  the  usual  dynamic  amongst  different  stakeholders  (researchers,  designers,  managers,   marketers,  sales  staff,  executives,  etc)?  Where  are  the  main  bottlenecks?  

What is  the  relationship  between  formal  and  informal  research?  

Do they  think  product  designers  should  be  involved  in  trends  research?  Can  product  designers  make   good  trend  reports?  

Do they  think  the  background  of  researchers  has  any  influence  in  the  quality  of  the  reports?  

What is  their  opinion  about  the  ‘trend  map’  presented?  Would  they  like  to  propose  any  changes?  

Exercise 3: Should/should not analysis 6

Participants were  asked  to  select  three  or  four  verbs  from  a  pre-­‐set  list  of  fifteen .  Those  verbs  would  have  to   express  what  they  believed  trends  research  should  and  should  not  do  in  a  product  design  environment.     The  selection  of  verbs  was  based  on  literature  findings  on  most  common  uses  fore  reports  and  trends   research.  The  verbs  were  also  chosen  by  its  ambiguous  connotations,  which  were  ‘conversation  starters’  about   why  they  have  chosen  a  particular  verb  to  be  on  the  ‘should’  and  not  on  the  ‘should  not’  side.   Any  misunderstandings  on  what  the  meaning  of  each  verb  were  clarified  at  the  spot.  Participants  were  also   encouraged  to  suggest  more  words  in  case  they  felt  there  were  any  missing.  Most  interviewees  however  used   the  verbs  provided,  without  suggesting  changes.    

                                                                                                                        6

The  verbs  were:  inspire,  stimulate,  open  minds,  encourage,  inform,  clarify,  keep  track,  guide,  control,  force,  restrict,  constraint,  reassure,   tranquilise  and  decrease  risks,  anticipate,  lead  to  tangible  results  and  simulate  and  convince.    

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Questions related  to  this  exercise  would  consider:   •

What do  they  believe  should  be  the  role  of  trends  research  and  trend  reports  in  product  design?    

What do  they  think  trends  research  should/could  do  and  what  it  shouldn’t/couldn’t  do?  

What would  be  the  ideal  trend  report  for  them  as  product  designers?  What  kind  of  content  and   layout  would  better  suit  their  needs?  

Exercise 4: The value of trend reports for NPD Participants were  presented  with  the  results  of  question  19  from  the  quantitative  analysis,  which  read   “Considering  the  development  of  successful  products,  trend  reports  are:  a  must  have,  nice  to  have  or  not   essential”.     The  researcher  briefly  explained  the  background  of  those  results  and  then  asked  the  interviewees  how  they   would  answer  that  question  and  why  they  made  that  specific  choice.   Questions  related  to  this  exercise  would  investigate:   •

Possible reasons  for  very  low  results  in  the  quantitative  analysis  for  trend  reports  being  a  “must   have”.    

If participants  from  design  departments  presented  such  positive  feedback  about  trend  reports,  and  if   they  were  so  useful  and  inspiring  to  them,  how  come  so  many  of  them  have  said  trend  reports  are  not   essential  to  the  development  of  new  products?  

5.3.3 Interview guide An interview  guide  was  sent  to  all  participants  before  the  day  of  the  interviews.  The  idea  was  to  give  a  more   detailed  idea  of  what  issues  the  interview  would  cover,  thus  making  participants  feel  more  relaxed  as  they   could  prepare  themselves  if  they  wanted  to.   The  PDF  document  also  reinforced  the  confidentiality  issues  and  explained  how  the  quotes  would  be  displayed   in  the  dissertation,  reminding  them  that  all  quotes  used  would  be  signed-­‐off  by  them.   The  guide  also  explained  that  the  interview  would  start  with  more  real  and  specific  issues  and  then  move  to   more  ideal  and  broader  questions.  

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5.4 Data compilation and analysis 5.4.1 Transcription All audio  was  transcribed  -­‐  eight  by  the  researcher  and  the  remaining  three  by  a  certified  transcription-­‐ 7

company in  India .  They  were  each  put  into  separate  Microsoft  Word  documents  and  every  sentence  was   tagged  with  time  stamps  –  so  to  make  structuring  easier.   The  transcription  was  done  literally  and  not  in  an  interpretive  manner  (Mason,  2002).  Some  of  the  text  was   edited  by  the  researcher  in  order  to  remove  unimportant  “speech  habits”  –  such  as  “you  know”,  “like”,  etc.  

5.4.2 Coding The coding  was  done  in  an  open  manner  (Flick,  2006;  Mason,  2002)  according  to  the  following  steps:   1.  All  the  transcriptions  were  compiled  together  in  a  single  Microsoft  Excel  file  with  the  following  headings:   questions  asked,  interviewee  code,  answers,  topics  and  sub-­‐topics  1,  2,  3  and  4.   2.  The  interviewees’  quotes  were  initially  put  into  that  file  in  order  of  appearance  –  from  the  first  person  to  be   interviewed  to  the  last.  Each  quote  received  a  number  (coding)  for  later  potential  data  finding.   3.  Every  quote  that  caught  the  researcher’s  attention  was  highlighted  in  a  different  colour.  Those  were  the   ones  that  were  considered  as  potential  sources  for  insights.   4.  Then  each  quote  received  1  to  4  keywords  that  summarised  them.  These  keywords  were  then  later  renamed   as  ‘sub-­‐topics’.  Those  sub-­‐topics  were  then  classified  into  smaller  groups  listed  by  9  ‘topics’.     5.  Those  topics  were  then  put  in  front  of  the  sub-­‐topics  back  in  the  Excel  file.  At  that  stage  some  ‘judgement   calls’  were  needed  since  some  keywords  would  fit  into  different  topics,  thus  causing  some  overlapping.  That   situation  was  overcome  by  the  interpretation  of  each  quote.     6.  The  appearance  of  topics  and  subtopics  were  counted  to  see  if  there  was  any  possible  insight  coming  from   the  number  of  responses  to  a  subject.   7.  The  distribution  of  topics  and  sub-­‐topics  was  once  more  assessed  and  topics  were  then  clustered  in  4  main   topics:  constraints,  why  not  use  trend  reports,  reports  and  the  role  of  trend  reports.  

                                                                                                                        7

The  difference  in  how  the  transcriptions  were  made  had  no  relevance  in  the  analysis  of  that  data.   46  


8. Those  new  and  final  categories  were  distributed  into  the  previously  highlighted  quotes.  That  way  we  went   from  410  to  164  quotes.   9.  The  quotes  were  once  again  checked  to  see  if  the  topics  and  sub-­‐topics  to  which  they  belonged  to  still  made   sense.  

 Fig.  12:  Analysis  of  interviewees’  quotes  (actual  results).  

11. Also,  the  number  of  times  each  keyword  had  been  voiced  and  by  whom  was  counted.  That  was  done   through  an  iterative  process  of  counting  the  appearances  of  those  keywords  in  the  Excel  file.  The  idea  however   was  to  keep  the  counting  as  casual  as  possible  –  with  no  attention  paid  to  statistical  relevance.  Had  we  not   done  that,  we  wouldn’t  be  able,  for  example,  to  see  that  the  process  of  ‘filtering  existing  trend  reports’  was   mentioned  30  times  in  the  various  interviews.  This  was  also  done  to  avoid  losing  perspective  on  how  relevant   each  topic  was  through  the  filtering  process.   This  process,  although  long  and  complex,  was  very  useful  to  help  build  the  narrative  for  understanding  and   presenting  the  results  of  the  data  analysis.  

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5.4.3 Analysis of exercises Analysis of exercise 1: Trend reports Asking participants  to  bring  a  report  they  had  worked  with  to  the  interview  was  a  good  way  to  make   participants  recall  past  experiences.  Most  participants  brought  reports  made  in-­‐house  –  even  the  ones  that  do   not  work  at  companies  with  in-­‐house  trend  departments.    

Fig.  13:  Analysis  of  trend  reports  in  Microsoft  Excel.  Content  is  filled  here  with  “Lorem  Ipsum”  quotes  in  order  to  keep     anonymity  of  interviewees.  

Analysis of exercise 2: Trend map To this  part  of  the  analysis,  quotes  from  interviewees  that  referred  to  “main  bottlenecks  they  see  in  their   current  trends  process”  were  placed  on  the  trends  map.  The  colours  are  related  to  the  results  of  exercise  04.  

8

Fig.  14:    Analysis  from  quotes  of  “trend  map”  exercise .    

                                                                                                                        8

 EI-­‐03  appears  three  times  in  the  graph  because  the  interviewee  has  pointed  the  “decision  moments”  as  the  most  challenging  ones.   48  


Analysis of exercise 3: Should/should not As illustrated  by  the  figure  15  below,  the  verb  frequency  results  were  laid  out  on  a  bubble  chart,  where  each   circle  was  proportionate  in  diameter  to  the  amount  of  times  the  verbs  from  the  exercise  were  chosen  by  a   participant.     The  groups  of  verbs  were  then  clustered  into  smaller  groups  of  similar  affinity:   9

Group A:  inspire,  stimulate,  open  minds  and  encourage .  

Group B:  inform,  clarify  and  keep  track.  

Group C:  guide,  control,  force,  restrict  and  constraint .  

Group D:  reassure,  tranquilise  and  decrease  risks.  

Group E:  anticipate,  lead  to  tangible  results  and  simulate.  

Group F:  convince.  

10

 Fig.  15:  Bubble  diagram.  “Should”  answers  are  shown  in  green  and  “should  not”  answers  in  red.  

                                                                                                                        9

Actually  suggested  by  one  participant,  as  “a  trend  report  should  not  discourage  creativity”.   10  Force,  restrict  and  constraint  were  verbs  suggested  by  participants.    

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It is  important  to  note  that,  although  the  circles  from  the  graph  were  originated  by  numerical  correlation  –   seven  votes,  made  a  07cm  large  circle  in  diameter  for  example  -­‐  the  purpose  of  this  exercise  was  by  no  means   to  get  an  exact  or  representative  opinion  from  the  sample.    

Analysis of exercise 4: Trend reports’ NPD value As interviewees  presented  opinions  more  or  less  favourable  towards  the  “new  product  development  value”  of   trend  reports,  their  attitude  were  illustrated  in  a  spectrum  from  ‘plus  and  minus’.  Various  types  of  analysis   were  tried  out  (company  size,  product  type),  but  the  collation  of  those  results  with  the  level  of  seniority  from   the  interviewees  have  provided  some  interesting  clusters.  

Fig.16:  Analysis  from  trend  reports’  NPD  value  exercise.  Interviewee  EI-­‐42  was  not  circled,  simply  because  there  was  no   pattern  formed  around  him.  

5.5 Interpretation of findings The exercises  were  not  only  used  during  the  interviews  as  triggers  and  conversation  starters,  but  also  used  to   help  analyse  the  outcomes  of  the  interviews.  It  is  important  to  note  however,  that  although  there  were   questions  attached  to  each  one  of  them,  as  we  have  seen  on  section  5.2.2,  the  exercises  were  not  meant  to  be   rigid.  In  other  words,  the  outcomes  from  the  interviews  were  analysed  quite  freely,  not  following  any  scripts.   Below  we  discuss  our  findings  in  detail.    

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5.5.1 Trend reports as sources of discoveries “Tough crowd” to please Designers are  knowingly  very  close  to  trendsetters  and  early  adopters,  be  it  in  on  their  social  or  professional   networks.  That  means  they  usually  are  already  aware  of  much  that  is  being  presented  in  trend  reports,  which   makes  them  a  very  “tough  crowd”  to  please  when  creating  trend  reports.   Product  designers  are  naturally  interested  in  new  and  interesting  ideas  –  as  Raymond  (2010)  puts  it,  they  are   “cultural  magpies”.  Reading  magazines,  checking  blogs  and  websites  is  part  of  their  daily  lives.  The  Internet  has   also  multiplied  the  access  to  all  kinds  of  information.  Our  interviewees  told  us  about  the  multitude  of   information  sources  they  make  constant  use  of.  All  our  interviewees  visited  coolhunting  blogs  and  other  trends   related  websites  very  frequently.  Some  even  said  it  was  part  of  a  designer’s  job  to  do  that  (EI-­‐07,  EI-­‐57).       “Designers  are  already  collecting  things  everywhere  they  go,  when  you  see  a  TR,  you’ve  kind   11 of  already  seen  most  of  the  stuff.”  (EI-­‐07/  02)   Providing  them  with  something  new  on  a  trend  report  thus  can  be  very  difficult.  Some  participants  have,  for   example,  complained  about  reports  recycling  the  same  imagery  and  ideas  over  and  over  (EI-­‐07,  EI-­‐47).    

Preaching to the choir An interesting  insight  that  came  from  designers  was  the  acknowledgement  that  the  kind  of  trend  report  that   were  most  useful  for  them  were  the  ones  that  presented  information  beyond  colours  and  materials.  Obtaining   that  kind  of  information  was  not  seen  as  a  bad  thing  per  se  –  they  did  say  it  was  good  having  a  summary  of   what  is  happening  worldwide.  But  for  the  product  designers  we  have  interviewed,  trend  reports  that  just   present  colour-­‐material  information  were  not  engaging  or  inspiring  enough.  They  need  a  story  and  a  rationale   behind  each  colours  and  materials  trend.   “Presenting  us  that  (TR)  for  2012,  it’s  inspiring,  it’s  nice,  but  we  shouldn’t  be  looking  at  that   because  trends  move  so  fast  nowadays,  we  should  be  really  looking  at  consumer  behaviour,   rather  than  what  colours  and  graphics  are  in.  We  should  really  be  looking  at  why  those   specific  colour  is  in,  like,  this  colour  is  coming  back  because  it’s  a  result  from  this  and  that   trend”.  (EI-­‐78/12)    

                                                                                                                        11

Coding  for  interviews  work  the  following  way:  in  the  case  of  “EI-­‐07/02”,  “EI  –  07”  =  expert  interview  with  identifier  number  07;  and  the   number  after  the  slash,  in  this  case  the  number  “12”,  represents  the  number  of  the  quote,  according  to  the  researcher’s  notes.  When  they   come  with  time  stamps,  like  “19:50”,  for  example,  it  means  that  that  particular  quote  was  not  part  of  the  highlighted  quotes,  chosen  by   the  researcher,  but  they  were  still  interesting  enough  to  appear  in  the  dissertation.    

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Also colour-­‐material  is  seen  as  “their  area”,  and  therefore  something  they  say  they  already  know  enough   about.  Obtaining  that  kind  of  information  for  them  seems  very  easy  since,  according  to  most  of  participants,   they  usually  have  a  good  instinct  for  knowing  what  is  the  next  colour  or  a  desired  functionality.   “I  personally  found  this  report  more  interesting  than  the  design  trends  one.  Somehow,  as  a   designer  you  know  a  lot  about  design.  You  can  somehow  in  an  intuitive  way,  predict  what  is   going  to  happen.”  (EI-­‐49/  08:34)   They  appreciate  the  opinion  of  experts  in  social-­‐cultural  shifts  because  that  is  the  area  they  are  not  experts  in   (EI-­‐78,  EI-­‐49).     12

The work  of  the  trends  agency  The  Future  Laboratory  was  highly  praised.  According  to  many  participants,   FutureLab,  as  it  is  also  known,  provided  a  very  good  balance  between  aesthetics  and  social  cultural  data.  No   reports  from  that  agency  however  were  brought  to  the  interviews.  In  fact,  no  one  has  mentioned  specifically   trend  reports  from  FutureLab.  Most  were  referring  to  FutureLab’s  biannual  magazine  Viewpoint  as  well  as  to   their  online  tool  called  L:SN  and  to  their  biannual  presentations,  Trend  Briefings.   “When  you  get  the  briefs  from  the  category  managers,  their  briefs  are  so  heavily  based  on   what  is  out  there  already  in  the  market,  but  FutureLab  just  doesn’t  get  down  to  that  –  they  go   beyond  'people  are  wearing  this  or  that  kind  of  sneakers'”.  (EI-­‐57/  17:15)   It  is  important  to  note  that  some  interviewees  were  not  that  impressed  by  the  work  of  outsourced  agencies,   such  as  FutureLab’s.  They  were  considered  too  “generic”  or  too  “abstract”.  Interestingly  that  kind  of  opinion   came  especially  from  participants  who  were  very  keen  in  finding  out  about  technological  advancements  (EI-­‐07   and  EI-­‐49).     “You  can’t  be  too  abstract  because  I  know  that  the  presentations  from  FutureLabs,  a  lot  of   people  switched  off  because  they  felt  it  was  very  pretentious  and  super  'heady'  and  had   nothing  to  do  with  anything.”  (EI-­‐57/  18)  

                                                                                                                       

12 There is  a  caveat  in  this  situation,  which  is  that  most  interviewees,  9  from  the  11,  worked  in  London,  which  is  where  FutureLab  is  

based.

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5.5.2 Trend reports as boundary objects Lack of knowledge Although our  focus  was  on  the  designers’  own  perspectives  and  experiences  with  trend  reports,  the   interviewees  also  voiced  some  important  constraints  coming  from  non-­‐designers  (marketers,  business  and   sales  people).     The  lack  of  knowledge  of  non-­‐designers  about  how  designers  work  was  indeed  a  widespread  complaint,  but  it   was  also  noted  that  those  kinds  of  concerns  came  especially  from  interviewees  working  at  smaller  companies   13

with a  background  of  family  businesses .     “Our  creative  director  would  go  ‘let’s  make  our  next  collection  about  flowers  because  I’ve   seen  a  lot  of  flowers  in  the  European  fairs’.  Sometimes  they  come  with  some  pictures  from   magazines  and  say  ‘we  could  do  something  in  this  style’.”  (EI-­‐86/  02  &  03)   That  “lack  of  knowledge”  in  creative  processes  seemed  also  to  extend  to  forecasting  practices.  Designers  have   said  they  sometimes  have  to  “educate”  non-­‐designers  about  trends.  There  were  a  lot  of  comments  about  how   non-­‐designers  were  misinformed  about  how  trends  research  “should”  work.  Some  interviewees,  for  example,   have  reported  cases  of  coolhunting  material  or  “poorly  done”  trends  research  being  used  as  key  elements  in   decision-­‐making.   “We  don’t  necessarily  pay  attention  to  those  generic  things,  but  I  think  other  sectors  of  our   company  do.  When  a  trend  report  comes  from  a  respected  consultancy  and  we  paid  a  lot  of   money  for  it,  they  see  value  in  what’s  in  there  and  then  they  make  decision  based  off  of  it,   which  can  be  risky.”  (EI-­‐07/  01)   There  were  also  reports  of  decision-­‐makers  requesting  ‘make-­‐do’  researches  or  simply  not  purchasing  or   creating  any  trend  reports  because  they  do  not  see  the  value  in  forecasting  for  design.       “My  boss  doesn’t  go  to  their  presentations  (FutureLab)  or  really  read  their  reports.  I  think  he   thinks  it’s  just  an  expensive  service  that  it’s  just  a  lot  of  'intellectual  stuff'.”  (EI-­‐57/  04)   Interestingly,  some  relatively  negative  remarks  were  made  not  only  towards  “non-­‐designers”,  but  also  to  some   more  “old-­‐school”  designers  who  were  set  in  their  comfort  zones  and  not  willing  to  keep  up-­‐to-­‐date.   “But  I  imagine  this  (agency’s  trend  report)  might  have  been  helpful  for  a  lot  of  people.  Maybe   for  older  designers,  who  have  been  here  a  long  time  and  who  know  how  the  system  works,  so   they  don’t  necessarily  feel  the  need  to  go  out  there  and  see  what  is  going  on.”  (EI-­‐78/  10)  

                                                                                                                        13

Considering  the  size  of  our  sample  that  could  also  surely  be  just  a  matter  of  chance.  Further  investigation  is  encouraged.   53  


An “eye for design” Most of  our  interviewees  thought  that  trend  researchers  do  not  necessarily  need  to  have  a  solid  background  in   design,  but  they  do  need  to  be  able  to  articulate  well  and  understand  how  designers  work  and  think.     “The  ideal  person  to  write  a  brief  would  be  someone  who  can  read  a  sketch.  They  don’t  have   to  do  a  sketch  themselves,  but  they  need  to  at  least  imagine  what  this  drawing  would  look   like  as  a  finished  product.  I  think  if  you  have  an  ‘eye  for  design’  you  can  see  those  things.”  (EI-­‐ 57/  03)   The  idea  of  having  two  types  of  reports  was  frequently  mentioned.  One  for  management  and  business  people,   heavy  with  information,  market  share  data,  numbers  and  graphs;  and  another  one  for  designers,  which  should   be  more  visual  and  concise.     “They  have  been  looking  at  things  like  Mintel,  WGSN  and  those  reports.  Many  times  they   found  them  too  heavy.  What  we  normally  do  is  simplify  it;  make  it  easy  for  them  (product   designers)  to  read.  Because  that’s  more  for  us  (researchers)  to  read.  We  need  to  simplify  it   and  analyse  it  for  these  guys;  they  don’t  care  about  reading  tons  of  things.”  (EI-­‐20/  05)   “We  realised  that  something  physical  is  something  that  people  like  –  specially  the  product   managers.  It’s  something  to  sign-­‐off  of.  You  go  like  ‘You  see’.  And  you  need  a  good  book  to   make  it  inspirational.  But  on  the  other  side,  for  our  internal  designers,  the  book  wasn’t  really   useful,  because  what  we  did  as  designers,  we  ripped  out  the  pages.  I  mean,  you  want  to  have   14 collages.”  (EI-­‐03/  12)   Lack  of  time  and  even  lack  of  patience  were  the  biggest  reasons  for  their  short  interest  in  text-­‐heavy  reports.   An  ideal  trend  report  for  them  would  have  bite-­‐size,  straightforward  information  with  compelling  images  that   help  them  understand  concepts  in  seconds.   “Designers  are  very  visual  people  and  once  they  understand  this,  they’ll  just  need  to  glance  at   that.  The  moment  they  have  to  read  it,  you’re  lost.”  (EI-­‐42/  19)   The  importance  of  producing  not  only  interesting  content,  but  also  a  visually  engaging  report  was  indeed  very   frequently  mentioned.  Designers  are  more  comfortable  expressing  themselves  either  visually  or  verbally.  A   complicated  report  could  mean  they  would  either  lose  interest  and  look  for  some  other  source  themselves  or   that  they  would  lose  too  much  time  trying  to  understand  what  is  being  said.   Some  of  them  also  said  that  pictures  and  videos  were  important  since  they  would  “stick  in  their  minds”  (EI-­‐03,   EI-­‐49),  making  it  easier  for  them  to  visualise  the  people  they  would  be  designing  for.    

                                                                                                                        14

As  previously  noted,  each  interviewee  received  the  transcripts  from  their  interviews  via  email  as  a  form  of  ‘sign-­‐off’  on  what  was  said.     It  was  made  sure,  that  the  main  idea  of  the  quote  was  kept.  Most  changes  made  for  polishing  vocabulary  and  grammar.  This  quote  (EI-­‐03/   12)  represents  such  case.    

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Opinions on  “visual  aids”  were  divided  though.  Diagrams  were  seen  by  some  as  very  helpful  but  they  were   sometimes  viewed  as  “too  complex  and  abstract”  by  others.   “I  think  of  trend  reports  as  being  heavy  on  detailed  data  points  that  you  have  to  extract  value   from  –  like  charts,  diagrams  and  stats;  whereas  design  inspiration  needs  more  than  just   numbers  –  they  need  to  connect  to  real  people  in  context.  What  people  say  they  do  versus   15 what  they  actually  do  are  usually  two  different  things.”  (EI-­‐87/  18)   Also  related  to  the  role  of  researchers,  having  “good  taste”  was  also  mentioned  more  than  once  as  a   fundamental  characteristic  of  any  trends  researcher  (EI-­‐42  and  EI-­‐57).   “I  think  there  are  people  with  taste  and  people  without  taste.  And  there  are  also  people  who   are  able  to  anticipate  taste.  I  don’t  care  whether  they’ve  got  any  design  training  or  not.  I  just   need  them  to  be  articulate  and  open  to  new  stuff.”  (EI-­‐42/  11)  

Reports as storytelling helpers The lack  of  understanding  and  indeed  trust  and  respect  between  internal  divisions  (specially  between  research   and  development  departments)  was  very  often  cited  during  the  interviews.  As  suggested  by  some   interviewees,  trend  reports  could  act  as  “boundary  objects”  (Fox,  2011),  working  as  a  kind  of  symbiotic  entity,   16

navigating across  those  culturally  defined  boundaries .   There  were  numerous  occasions  in  which  interviewees  reported  having  used  trend  reports  as  a  means  to   convince  non-­‐designers  about  a  particular  design  path.  From  the  data  we  obtained,  it  seems  that  this  is   currently  the  most  common  use  for  trend  reports.   “A  lot  of  what  we’re  doing  with  trends  is  using  it  as  a  framework  to  justify  why  we’re  doing   things.  When  we  go  into  our  business  unit  meetings,  we  have  to  say  this  is  the  right  product   to  do  because  you  see,  the  design  trend,  it’s  going  that  way  and  the  consumers  are  doing  this.   It’s  very  much  about  building  a  level  of  reassurance  and  belief.”  (EI-­‐42/  21:54)   It  seems  like  there  is  an  increasing  demand  in  providing  more  solid  background  stories  and  designers  are  being   asked  to  provide  the  rationale  behind  their  aesthetic  decisions.  As  Nathan  Crilly  noted,  “designers  are  often   not  natural  writers”  (Crilly,  2005),  thus  having  a  trend  expert,  either  in-­‐house  or  outsourced,  was  seen  quite  in   a  positive  way  by  most  interviewees.   “I  usually  spend  3  hours  in  front  of  a  computer  screen,  reading  books  and  magazines.  If  we   had  something  like  WGSN,  that  would  be  really  great  because  I  could  be  using  that  time  to   create  and  design.”  (EI-­‐86/  12)  

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Quote  edited  by  interviewee,  as  noted  on  previous  footnote.    The  term  “boundary  object”  was  actually  suggested  a  posteriori  by  a  colleague,  Burcu  Felekoglu,  in  a  feedback  section  at  Institute  for   th

Manufacturing (28  March  2011).    

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“I think  some  designers  could  do  trend  reports.  I  personally  consider  that  I  cannot.  Probably   because  I  don’t  have  the  patience.  And  you  really  have  to  have  the  skills  to  do  it.  Whenever  I   try  to  do  just  a  simple  task  like  finding  inspirational  images,  I  found  it  quite  difficult.   Sometimes  I  see  that  people  that  are  really  into  that  topic,  they  find  much  better  images  than   I  do.  I  think  that  is  because  they  know  what  to  search,  what  topics  in  particular.  I  don’t  know   if  it’s  a  matter  of  a  skill.  I  don’t,  it’s  probably  just  patience.”  (EI-­‐49/  09)   According  to  the  interviews,  researchers  have  increasingly  gained  more  ‘power  of  decision’  in  organisations   due  to  their  ability  to  rationally  express  reasons  behind  certain  choices  and  not  to  just  explain  things  based  on   “gut  feel”.   “There  have  been  some  projects  that  our  product  designers  have  not  used  trends  research  and   they’ve  done  reports,  they’ve  struggled  to  get  direction  that  creates  a  story.  There  were   several  projects  that  had  to  be  restarted  because  they  didn’t  have  a  direction.  So  when   they’ve  got  the  trends,  they’ve  got  that  story  and  they’ve  got  a  way  to  express  it  to  the  top   management.”  (EI-­‐99/  16)   However,  they  also  were  very  quick  to  point  out  that  this  was  not  necessarily  a  good  thing  all  the  time,   particularly  if  the  researcher  does  not  understand  enough  about  the  subject  matter  or  if  the  design  team  does   not  respect  the  researcher’s  knowledge  and  background.   “They  tried  at  my  previous  company  putting  the  trend  department  to  guide  the  designers,  but   it  was  so  difficult  sometimes,  especially  for  some  more  technical  products.  They  had  all  these   themes  that  were  definitely  very  fashion  and  interiors-­‐based.  Then  you  tried  to  apply  that  to  a   running  product  -­‐  even  if  pastels  and  muted  pastels  are  big  on  the  runway,  it’s  not  going  to   work  on  a  running  shoe  ever.”(EI-­‐57/  31)   Another  negative  side  effect  of  the  seductive  power  of  trend  reports  was  the  recognition  that  they  are  also   being  used  backwards:  there  were  some  testimonies  related  to  reports  being  used  in  ‘retrofits’,  or  post-­‐ justifications  of  design  paths  by  designers  and  non-­‐designers  alike.   “At  the  end,  after  the  collection  has  been  designed,  then  our  manager  will  put  together  a   mood  board  of  the  colour  materials.  So  they  don’t  actually  use  it  (TR)  for  creation  but  mostly   for  sales  or  for  justifying  a  design  direction.”  (EI-­‐57/  11)   “I’ve  seen  companies  using  outsourced  reports,  just  to  say  they’ve  done  it.  We  weren’t   following  it.  It  was  all  for  show.”  (EI-­‐78/  07)  

Trusted partners Trust was  a  big  issue  among  participants.  It  didn’t  matter  if  the  reports  were  coming  from  in-­‐house  or  being   outsourced;  designers  were  very  explicit  about  their  concerns  with  the  source  of  the  data  –  who  was  writing  it,   researching  it  and  interpreting  it.  

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Trust was  also  pointed  out  as  an  element  needed  in  order  to  be  confident  enough  to  tell  stories.  If  the   researcher  earns  the  design  team’s  respect,  a  good  symbiotic  relation  between  researchers  and  product   designers  can  lead  to  experts  being  trusted  and  seen  as  a  valuable  ally  in  building  up  a  validated  story  behind   design  concepts.     “Our  product  designers  are  usually  very  open  to  trend  reports.  I  think  they  trust  us.  Our   Trends  Manager  is  an  expert  and  has  a  good  reputation.  Normally  they  never  start  anything   without  having  our  report  first.  And  if  they  do  start,  they  have  to  start  it  all  over  again.  They   can’t  justify  if  they  have  done  something  if  they  haven’t  followed  our  reports  really.”  (EI-­‐20/   02)   Despite  the  big  internal  divide  among  company  sectors,  which  was  a  complaint  that  came  from  all  participants,   having  an  in-­‐house  trends  team  was  taken  very  positively.  The  reasons  suggested  by  the  participants  were  very   closely  related  to  any  debate  on  the  benefits  of  outsourcing  –  in-­‐house  would  know  the  company  better,   outsourced  would  have  an  outsider’s  perspective  and  so  on.    

When to use them Interviewees that  were  not  so  amazed  with  the  benefits  of  trend  reports  were  under  the  impression  that  they   would  only  be  used  in  the  beginning  of  the  product  development  cycle.   “Trend  reports  seem  to  come  generally  at  the  start  of  a  project,  but  most  of  them  tend  to  just   be  filtered  out  throughout  the  process.  On  my  teams,  we  prefer  to  talk  with  a  small  sample  of   17 extreme  users  during  the  entire  project.”    (EI-­‐87/  07)   Trends  research  was  generally  seen  as  an  important  feature  to  have  in  the  beginning  of  the  design  process,   however  a  lot  of  interviewees  have  said  they  would  like  to  see  trend  reports  being  developed  and  used  all  the   way  –  from  the  start  to  finish.  That  seems  to  make  sense  since  trends  are  not  a  static  phenomenon.  In  fact,   that  is  an  issue  very  important  to  product  design  –  especially  with  products  with  long  lifecycles.   “Having  a  trend  report  before  you  start  is  useful,  because  it  sets  you  in  the  frame  to  design   for  those  off  the  moment  issues,  but  then  if  you’ve  got  a  6  months  timescale  on  your  project,   some  of  those  trends  are  out  of  date  probably.  By  the  time  you  get  to  the  conceptualisation   phase  it’s  almost  like  you  need  another  report,  some  more  data,  more  updates  to  see  if  you’re   still  aligned  or  not.”    (EI-­‐07/  09)   Many  participants  mentioned  the  feeling  that  “trends  move  too  fast  nowadays”.  That  seemed  to  be  something   that  also  contributed  to  mistrust  researchers’  competence,  unless  they  really  “keep  up”  with  the  pace  of  those   changes.  

                                                                                                                        17

Edited  by  the  interviewee.   57  


“That's where  trends  are  going  to  now,  much  more  fluid,  much  more  evolving  on  a  sort  of   weekly,  monthly  basis.”  (EI-­‐  42  /  19:50)  

5.5.3 Trend reports as brand compasses Vision unifiers One interesting  use  of  trend  reports  was  as  potential  vision  unifiers,  particularly  with  large  teams.  They  help   the  design  team  rally  around  the  same  set  of  information  and  recommendations,  therefore  increasing  the   chance  that  the  team’s  output  will  focus  of  the  right  things  and  not  on  what  each  individual  thinks  is  right.   “If  there  were  no  trend  reports  in  our  brand,  imagine,  we  have  a  big  number  of  designers   working  in  our  company,  how  would  you  all  make  them  design  with  our  brand  in  mind?  Trends   research  aligns  the  thinking  of  the  team.”  (EI-­‐99/  18)   Trend  reports  could  also  potentially  prevent  personal  tastes  from  designers  and  managers  coming  before   brand  strategy.   “Part  of  what  I  look  for  trends  to  do  in  consumer  research  is  to  help  designers  understand  that   their  taste  is  not  the  only  taste  and  they’re  not  designing  for  themselves  and  their  friends  in   Hoxton.  They’re  designing  for  other  people  and  we  need  to  –  we  constantly  need  to  have  that   sort  of  reference.”  (EI-­‐42/  17)   There  were  indeed  many  comments  about  research  decisions  being  made  based  on  personal  tastes  and  not  on   hard  data.   “At  my  previous  jobs  the  creative  director  would  set  the  theme  and  from  there  we  would  do   research.  There  was  a  trend  director  there  and  sometimes  she  would  make  a  presentation  of  a   trend  concept  but  he  wouldn’t  necessarily  listen  to  her.  If  he  had  a  creative  vision,  he  would   just  make  it.  So  then  sometimes  trend  director  would  do  her  trend  report  presentation  after   the  theme  he’d  set.  We  were  disconnected,  like  working  in  a  bubble.”  (EI-­‐57/  02)  

Clarify and help visualise Another related  interesting  use  for  trends  was  to  help  designers  visualize  their  end  customers  in  a  way  that   helps  them  make  better  product  decisions.   “I  want  to  have  the  right  people  in  my  mind,  who  I'm  designing  for.  If  people  can  clarify  to  me   how  these  people  will  live  their  lives  in  the  future,  then  it's  easy  to  picture  myself  in  their   shoes  and  start  designing  for  them.”  (EI-­‐03/  08)  

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New and old formats There was  a  big  variety  of  trend  report  formats  brought  to  the  interviews  –  books,  leaflets,  on-­‐screen  or   printouts  from  PDFs  and  on-­‐screen  websites.  Opinions  were  seemingly  diverse  –  there  were  praises  for  both   physical  as  well  as  online  reports:   “I  think  it’s  much  nicer  when  you  have  something  physical,  because  you  can  always  have   access  to  it.  Whereas  when  it’s  in  digital  form  you  always  get  too  lazy  and  you  just  don’t   consult  it.”  (EI-­‐49/  15)   “The  nice  thing  about  moving  online  now  with  this  sort  of  bible  of  trends  is  that  we  can  react   quicker  to  things.  We  can  track  trends  over  time.”  (EI-­‐42/  23)  

5.5.4 Trend reports as sparks Exercise creativity Designers are  constantly  under  pressure  by  top  management  for  tangible  results.  That  can  bring  some  tension,   especially  with  regards  to  trends  research,  which  by  its  nature  can  only  be  based  on  uncertain  information  or   “educated  guesses”.   The  pressure  and  constraints  posed  by  everyday  challenges  were  also  identified  as  things  that  could  stifle  the   imagination  in  the  long  run.  In  that  situation  designers  saw  trend  reports  as  a  means  to  help  exercise  their   creativity.  The  further  they  can  look  into  the  future,  the  fewer  links  with  feasibility  they  need  to  have.   A  great  advantage  of  trend  reports  is  that  they  can  help  justify  more  “blue  sky”  and  complex  thinking  as   opposed  to  for  example  traditional  user  research  reports,  which  usually  focus  on  more  current  and  direct   issues.     “Usually  the  shorter  term  projects  don’t  challenge  technology  as  much.  The  timeframe  usually   does  not  allow  a  large  investment,  it’s  frequently  just  not  possible.  You’re  usually  stuck  with   the  technology.  So  the  innovation  you  have  is  less;  it’ll  be  more  on  usability,  on  design  and   styling.  Compared  to  if  you’re  talking  about  5  or  8  years,  then  you  might  challenge  that   technology  as  well.”(EI-­‐03/  03)  

Anticipating trends not as important The ability  of  a  trend  report  to  anticipate  future  behaviour  was  indeed  taken  as  a  given  by  some  designers  (4   out  of  11),  but  somewhat  surprisingly  some  participants  have  said  they  were  not  much  bothered  about  a  trend   report  being  right  or  not  (EI-­‐42,  EI-­‐57,  EI-­‐99).    For  them  the  process  of  following  trends  and  creating  an  internal  

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culture of  always  thinking  ahead  was  more  important  than  getting  to  tangible  results.  Also  according  to  them,   trend  reports  should  be  able  to  open  minds,  stimulate  creativity  and  instigate  experimentation.   “It’s  good  if  they  anticipate,  but  whether  or  not  WGSN  can  actually  anticipate  a  trend,  is  not   relevant  to  me.  In  the  end,  it’s  really  up  to  you.  Everyone  who  uses  this  kind  of  service  should   use  their  own  brain  and  see  whether  they  disagree  or  agree  with  it.  I  don’t  think  it’s  that  bad   if  they  try  to  anticipate  -­‐  it’s  nice  to  know  what  they’re  thinking  about.  It’s  actually  good   they're  trying  to  anticipate  things  because  otherwise  you’re  just  reporting  history  -­‐  it’s  not   relevant  for  designers  then.”  (EI-­‐57/  12)  

Challenging themselves and taking risks Businesses need  reassurance  and  numbers,  but  designers  don’t  seem  to  long  for  that  reassurance:  they  want   to  be  challenged  by  trend  reports.  Designers  can  live  without  trend  reports,  but  businesses  cannot.     “I  don’t  really  need  reassurance.  I’m  not  scared.  My  client  is.  I’d  like  the  TR  to  reassure  my   client.”  (EI-­‐78/  11)   According  to  them,  trend  reports  should  not  be  safe;  indeed,  they  must  not  be  safe.   “There  is  a  big  temptation  when  you  get  trends  research  just  to  use  it  to  find  the  safe  path,   but  trends  should  provoke  a  little  bit.    And  if  a  trend  doesn’t  make  me  think,  then  I  don’t  need   to  read  that  trend.  I  need  to  challenge  myself.”(EI-­‐42/  03)  

Pressure to be original The pressure  for  always  bringing  original  solutions  can  come  both  from  management  but  also  from  designers   themselves.  Following  trends  can  thus  feel  almost  like  a  non-­‐starter.  We  heard  from  some  of  them  that  the   role  of  designers  is  to  create  trends,  not  follow  them  (EI-­‐47,  EI-­‐78).     “As  designers  we  don’t  want  to  follow  trends  –  we  want  to  create  them.  We  have  to   understand  where  things  are  going  and  try  to  go  to  the  other  side  before  anyone  starts  doing   the  same.  We  always  have  to  be  ahead  of  those  trends.”(EI-­‐47  /  35:10)   “If  I  see  a  trend  going  one  way,  my  instinct  is  to  go  the  other.  Everything  Apple  is  doing,  for   example,  is  already  consolidated,  so  it’d  make  no  sense  to  do  that.  So  I  do  study  trends,  but  so   I  can  see  what  I’m  not  going  to  do.  So,  it’s  to  eliminate  things  that  have  already  been  done.”   (EI-­‐47/  04)   The  idea  of  trend  reports  ‘killing  originality’  or  ‘spoiling  inspiration’  was  a  concern  found  relatively  often  in  our   interviews.  Most  of  our  participants  have  reinforced  the  importance  of  designers  always  being  ahead  of  the   trends  –  that  reason  alone  would  already  be  enough  reason  for  not  referring  to  trend  reports  as  they  could   somehow  lead  them  to  imitate  other  designers.  

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5.5.5 Trend reports as recipe books Ownership Three different  designers  mentioned  “recipe  books”  as  a  metaphor  for  the  trend  reports.  The  analogy  backs  up   the  idea,  also  very  often  cited,  of  trend  reports  being  ‘starting  points’  for  design.     It  was  reported  by  most  designers  that  once  they  obtain  a  trend  report,  they  tend  to  make  their  own  versions   of  them  –  something  like  a  tailored  summarized  version  of  the  original  document.  It  was  noted  that  that  kind   of  behaviour  would  happen  regardless  of  the  type  of  report  -­‐  colour-­‐material  or  social-­‐cultural,  in-­‐house  or   outsourced,  etc.     This  filtering  process  also  reinforces  the  importance  of  ownership  for  designers.   “This  comes  from  the  trend  team,  which  is  the  big  high-­‐level  view.  So  we  would  take  some  of   these  trends  out  and  then  we  will  draw  deeper  into  them.  And  I  find  the  best  way  to  do  that  is   with  the  designers.  And  then  you  need  the  designers  to  own  the  vision.  If  designers  don’t  own   the  vision,  then  they  won’t  do  it  because  designers  are  very  stubborn  people.”  (EI-­‐42/  07)   “A  trend  report  is  another  ingredient  for  the  designer  and  design  teams  to  work  from,   however  you  need  to  pick  what’s  relevant  and  useful  to  your  project  and  more  importantly  an   approach  that  lets  you  design  for  your  consumer’s  needs.  If  you  work  solely  from  a  trend   report  you  might  miss  opportunities  to  design  a  solution  that  genuinely  addresses  an   18 emerging  need  that  might  sit  outside  a  report’s  findings.”  (EI-­‐87/  11  and  59:00)   ‘Control’  was  a  big  issue.  In  the  ‘should/should  not’  exercise,  for  example,  a  number  of  participants  have   suggested  that  trend  reports  should  not  ‘control’  or  ‘guide’  them.  Reports  have  to  be  open  to  interpretation   and  set  loose  guidelines.     Interest  in  trend  reports  depends  heavily  in  personal  interest.  Some  designers  were  very  keen  in  knowing  more   about  trends  and  trends  theory.   “I’d  be  really  interested  to  know  more  about  trends’  theory.  Something  like  a  presentation  in   our  work  place.”(EI-­‐86/  01)   19

Conversely, some  interviewees  did  not  see  the  need  at  all  for  that  type  of  data  as  they  were  indeed  quite   pleased  with  the  “tools”  they  had  available  –  either  by  relying  purely  on  inspiration  or  by  obtaining  results   from  other  types  of  reports  (market  and/or  research).  

                                                                                                                        18

Edited  by  the  interviewee.    Notably  the  two  designers  from  design  agencies  (EI-­‐47  and  EI-­‐87)  and  one  senior  designer  from  a  consumer  electronics  manufacturer   (EI-­‐07).  

19

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Marking territories There was  a  keen  sense  that  forecasting  is  usually  seen  as  a  marketing’s  territory  or  as  a  business  strategy.   “I  was  interviewing  sometime  ago  with  a  guy  from  (a  famous  jewellery  company)  and  I  told   him  about  my  interest  in  trends  –  I  was  trying  to  sell  myself  –  but  he  was  ‘oh…  trends   research,  leave  that  to  the  marketing  people’”.    (EI-­‐78/  01)   Bigger  companies  in  particular  seem  to  reinforce  these  very  well-­‐defined  roles,  sometimes  not  even  allowing   designers  who  are  genuinely  interested  in  trends  to  develop  that  knowledge.     “It  depends  a  bit  on  what  kind  of  role  you’re  given.  I  think  in  larger  companies  there  is  the   tendency,  and  I  don’t  know  if  it’s  only  in  this  office  or  if  it  also  happens  in  other  companies,   but  there’s  more  the  tendency  to  give  the  people  a  specific  role.  I’m  a  product  designer  now,   so  you  are  sort  of  stuck  within  that  role's  description,  whereas  in  my  other  company  (PD   20 agency),  I  was  much  more  going  on  these  different  paths.”  (EI-­‐03/  01)  

5.6 Summary This chapter  has  presented  the  design,  development  and  results  from  the  qualitative  interviews.  We  have  seen   that  the  outcomes  from  those  interviews  lead  to  the  following  five  categories,  which  summarise  how  the   designers  we  interviewed  saw  the  main  roles  and  values  for  trend  reports:  

Fig. 17:  Metaphors  related  to  the  possible  roles  of  trend  reports  to  product  designers.  

The next  chapter  will  draw  upon  those  outcomes  and  see  how  they  interact  with  what  was  found  in  the  web-­‐ survey  as  well  as  in  the  literature  review.    

                                                                                                                        20

Edited  by  the  interviewee.   62  


CHAPTER 06  

Synthesis

In the  previous  two  sections  we  went  in  detail  through  both  the  quantitative  and  qualitative  steps  of  this   research.  In  this  section  we  will  summarise  all  the  learning  from  those  efforts  and  attempt  to  answer  our  main   research  question.   It  is  important  to  note  that  although  some  of  the  ideas  we  are  giving  here  could  be  immediately  applied  to   design  practice,  this  research  is  not  intended  to  be  prescriptive.  Finding  that  ‘ultimate  recipe’  would  require   much  more  time  and  resources  than  we  had  available  for  this  project.     We  will  start  by  revisiting  our  main  research  question  and  then  point  out  to  what  this  research  has  found  as   key  implications  related  to  it:  divergent  expectations  and  new  challenges  for  trend  reports.  

6.1 Back to the main question By collating  the  results  from  the  literature  review,  the  web-­‐survey  and  the  interviews,  we  put  attention  to  two   main  concerns  (Fig.  18)  that  refer  to  this  research’s  main  question:  What  is  the  role  and  value  of  trend  reports   for  product  designers?  

Fig. 18:  Final  considerations  from  the  collation  of  data.  

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6.1.1 Divergent expectations Probably the  richest  insight  that  came  out  of  this  study  refers  to  the  apparent  conflict  between  what   designers  and  top  management  expect  from  trends  reports.  That  divergence  seems  to  drive  many  of  the   issues  raised  throughout  this  research.     If  we  consider  the  tone  of  forecasting  in  business  literature  and  indeed  some  comments  from  our   interviewees,  we  often  encounter  words  and  expressions  such  as  “forecasting”,  “predictions”  or  “competitive   advantage”.    Conversely,  the  ‘should/should  not’  exercise  carried  out  in  the  qualitative  phase  of  this  research,   it  was  really  clear  that  the  most  popular  roles  for  trends  research  came  in  the  form  of  the  verbs  “inspire”,   “open  minds”,  “stimulate”  and  “inform”  (Fig.  19).    

Fig.  19:  Comparing  wording  between  trend  reports  for  designers  and  trend  reports  for  non-­‐designers.  

That difference  becomes  also  more  apparent  when  some  designers  said  that  the  ability  of  a  trend  report  to   ‘get  it  right’  was  in  fact  not  that  important  for  them,  but  rather  the  process  of  exercising  their  creativity,   stretch  their  imaginations  and  consider  what  could  come  ahead  that  seemed  to  have  more  appeal.   It  is  very  important  to  note,  however,  that  the  notions  this  research  has  obtained  about  non-­‐designers,  came   mostly  from  the  interviews  with  product  designers  and  from  a  comprehensive  though  not  deep  analysis  of   available  literature.  Though  the  conclusions  taken  in  this  study  satisfy  the  purpose  to  which  this  research  was   set  to  reach,  the  researcher  recognises  the  limitations  of  the  study  and  indeed  encourages  that  those  notions   are  further  investigated  and  include  other  professionals  that  don’t  belong  to  the  design  field.  

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6.1.2 New challenges for trend reports This research  has  pointed  to  the  fact  that  businesses  cannot  afford  to  live  without  both  trends  research  nor   trend  reports.  That  seems  to  be  especially  the  case  with  larger  companies,  which  need  to  maintain  brand   coherence  amongst  a  huge  number  of  internal  values  and  interests.   The  interviews  have  shown  good  indication  that  designers  can  indeed  live  without  trend  reports,  since  spotting   patterns  is  innate  to  them.  Some  of  them  do  it  formally  others  only  subconsciously  -­‐  depending  (a  lot)  on  what   personal  interests  they  have.  In  retrospect,  it  seems  quite  reasonable  that  designers  have  chosen  trend  reports   as  “a  nice  to  have”.    It  remains  to  be  seen  how  and  if  their  opinion  will  change  in  2  or  5  years,  as  we  encounter:   •

More and  more  people  gaining  access  to  trends  knowledge  –  and  indeed  to  any  kinds  of  information.    

An over-­‐inflated  volume  of  information  that  they  have  to  navigate  through,  but  no  “extra  time”  to  do   that.  

Would these  perhaps  make  trend  reports  become  “must  have”  tools  for  product  designers  as  well?   Furthermore,  a  big  part  of  a  designer’s  job  is  to  justify  his  or  her  own  design  choices.  Trends  experts  could  act   as  resourceful  allies  in  helping  them  build  richer  and  engaging  ‘stories’  for  their  concepts.  For  that  to  happen   however  there  needs  to  be  a  lot  of  mutual  respect  and  trust.  In  that  sense,  one  could  say  that  trend  reports   could  be  successful  if:   •

Design departments  feel  they  help  them  keep  consistency  of  their  company’s  objectives  and  brand   requirements;  

Product designers  not  only  know  about  them,  but  are  also  able  to  distinguish  them  from  the  other  set   of  tools  available  –  understanding  their  possibilities  and  respecting  their  limitations;    

Product designers  not  only  trust  their  content,  but  also  see  them  as  invaluable  tools  for  inspiration   because  they  understand  and  capitalise  in  how  designers  learn  and  think.  

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CHAPTER 07  

Conclusion

Having considering  the  key  findings  of  this  study  and  revisited  the  research  question  in  the  previous  section,   this  chapter  now  finalises  the  research  by  considering  the  theoretical  and  practical  contributions  of  this  thesis,   which  is  then  followed  by  an  examination  of  the  limitations  of  the  research  and  opportunities  for  future   research.  

7.1 Contributions 7.1.1 Contributions to theory As seen  on  chapter  02,  the  literature  available  in  the  design  field  to  trends  research  is  very  limited.  From  the   few  publications  encountered  that  indeed  approached  the  topic,  not  much  reference  was  made  to  the  making   of  trends  reports  and  none  have  considered  the  opinions  of  designers  from  their  experiences  with  those  types   of  reports.  This  research  thus  contributes  to  that  gap  in  knowledge  as  it  provides  robust  indications  of  how   trend  reports  are  being  used  and  considered  by  different  professionals  dealing  with  product  development.   Further  enrichment  also  comes  from  the  application  of  a  quantitative  approach  (even  if  only  illustrative)  in  the   investigation  of  that  topic.   A  second  contribution  to  be  considered  is  the  inclusion  of  “low  rank”  designers  to  the  inquiry  –  as  it  was  noted   in  the  literature  review  that  academics  and  practitioners  have  mostly  preferred  to  interview  CEOs  and  design   directors  for  their  research.    

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7.1.2 Contributions to practice As pointed  in  chapter  01,  this  study  is  not  a  prescriptive  research,  which  means  that  it  does  not  aim  at  direct   implications  to  practice,  such  as  providing  a  list  of  how  to  get  to  a  “perfect”  trend  report  for  example.  This   study  has  deliberately  avoided  answering  that  kind  of  question  since  the  researcher  firmly  believes  that  more   complex  and  fundamental  questions  should  be  asked  before  any  solutions  are  proposed.  Thus  a  successful   progression  of  this  study  would  be  to:   •

Encourage more  conversations  about  the  role  of  designers  (not  just  researchers  and  strategists)  in   futures  research,  not  just  “how  to  do  trends  research”  or  “how  to  get  to  trends”.  

Make people  see  trend  reports  with  fresh  eyes  and  understand  that  trends  research  is  not  only   pertinent  to  marketers  and  other  non-­‐design  strategists.  

Align interests  and  expectations,  pointing  to  ways  to  improve  the  making  and  application  of  trend   reports  in  design  practices.    

7.2 Limitations + Future research This section  combines  the  limitations  of  the  research  with  some  opportunities  for  future  research,  as  the   researcher  believes  that  some  parts  from  the  study  that  could  not  be  provided  by  this  research  do  present   fertile  ground  for  further  inquiry.  These  are:   •

Retaking the  quantitative  survey  with  a  larger  sample  in  order  to  reach  statistical  robustness.  Would   this  yield  similar  results?  

Interview non-­‐designers  and  ask  what  THEY  think  about  the  results?  Is  there  really  a  divide  in  the   expectations  for  trend  reports  between  designers  and  non-­‐designers?  Do  they  really  care  more  about   results  than  creative  processes?  How  does  that  shown  in  actual  financial  investments  in  trends   research  and  trend  reports?  

Conduct a  more  in-­‐depth  research,  aimed  at  the  actual  construction  of  an  ideal  trend  report  for   product  designers  and  indeed  for  all  types  of  designers.  What  would  it  look  like?  What  type  of  content   should  it  have?  What  would  be  the  considerations  to  be  made  amongst  the  different  disciplines  of   design?  Would  they  also  differ  if  they  were  targeted  at  more  “boutique”  designers?  

Work on  the  metaphors  used  in  qualitative  results:  what  do  designers  think  about  them?  Would  these   metaphors  work  for  other  areas  of  design  as  well?  

Finally, the  researcher  sincerely  hopes  this  study  can  be  as  useful  and  rich  for  readers  as  it  was  for  her.  

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Appendices

App. 01: LinkedIn groups to which invitations were sent 360 Trendwatchers,  Aiga,  British  Design  Innovation,  Consumer  Insights,  Cool  Hunters,  Cosmetics  and  Beauty   Network,  Creative  Design  Pros,  Design  Council,  Design  Plus,  Design  Research,  DMI,  Enviu,  Fashion  &  Lifestyle,   Fashionista  Café,  Fuse,  Future  Trends,  Global  Foresight,  Global  Trend  Forecasting,  IDSA,  Include  Network,   Industrial  Design,  Innovation  People,  Leadership  Think  Tank,  Lift  Conference,  Luxury  &  Lifestyle,  Market   Research,  Mobile  phone  design,  Mobilists,  Mudpie,  Next  Gen  Market  Research,  Product  Design,  Scenario,   Future  &  Strategy  Group,  Social  Innovation  exchange,  Strategic  Planning  Exchange,  StyleCareers,  TED,  Textile,   Apparel,  Footwear  and  Fashion,  The  Business  of  Fashion,  The  Designers  Accord,  The  Fashion  Network,  The   Wellness  Revolution,  Thinking  Hotel,  Trend  Watching,  User  Experience,  Women's  Wear  Daily,   Zukunftsforschung,  TrendsGymnasium,  Fashion  &  Beauty,  Designers  Talk,  The  Economist,  Retail  Industry   Professionals,  Retail  Industry  Professionals  Worldwide,  Stylesight,  Visual  Artists  and  their  Advocates.  

App. 02: Coroflot groups to which invitations were sent Patterns, Graphic  Designers,  furniture,  Design  -­‐  "Made  in  Germany",  CONCEPT  designers,  Product  Design,   Core77,  Industrial  Design,  footwear  designers  of  the  world,  Freelance-­‐worldwide,  Cool  Hunters.  

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App. 03: Final demographic of web-survey

METRICS

About the   responder  

GROUP 01:     Experience   Responder’s   profile  

Sector

Responder’s company  

GROUP 04:     Type  of   Responder’s   company   profile  

products

RELATED QUESTIONS  

POSSIBLE ANSWERS  

Q02. Total  years  of  experience?  

Less than  5  (17%),  6  to  10  (29%),  11  to  15  (29%),   More  than  15  (26%)  

Q03. What  sector  or  department  are  you   a  part  of?    

Design (56%)    

Q06. What  are  the  types  of  goods/   services  your  company  most  works  with?    

Durables (59%)  –  Automotive,  furniture,   consumer  electronics,  fashion/apparel  

Non-­‐design (44%)  -­‐  Marketing,  Planning,   Engineering,  Production,  Administrative   1

Non-­‐durables (41%)  –  Branding/advertising,   entertainment,  publishing/journalism,   service/retail,  food/drink,  other  

Company  size  

Q07. How  many  permanent  employees   are  there  in  your  entire  company?  

Micro (38%)  –  Less  than  10  employees     SME  (39%)  –  Between  10  and  2,500  employees     Large  (24%)  –  More  than  2,500  employees  

Location

Q26. Country  where  you  currently  live:   (Open  question)  

Europe (70%),  North  America  (16%)  and  South   America  (15%)  

Table 09:  Questions  from  survey  used  for  analysis  and  final  demographics.  The  last  column  explains  how  some  categories   have  been  clustered  into  smaller  subgroups.  

1

As  the  question  allowed  multiple  choices,  it  was  decided  that  the  participant  would  be  considered  making  part  of  the  ‘durable’  category,   if  he  or  she  had  chosen  at  least  one  product  from  the  durable  category.  

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App. 04: Questions from survey used for analysis

METRICS

GROUP 02:   Time  using  TR   Use  of  trend   reports   Interaction  with   TR  

RELATED QUESTIONS  

POSSIBLE ANSWERS  

Q11. How  long  have  you  been   working  with  Trend  Reports?    

Less than  1  year,  1  –  3  years,  4  –  8  years,  Over  10   years  

Q17. Which  one  is  closer  to   how  you  usually  use  a  Trend   Report:  

Just give  it  a  glance/  Read  it  carefully     Read  it  once  and  put  it  somewhere  else/  Frequently   refer  back  to  it    

Responder’s profile  

Use it  only  during  a  certain  project/  Refer  back  to  it,   even  when  the  project  is  over     Leave  it  as  it  is/  Make  notes  or  cut  its  pages  as   inspiration  

GROUP 03:   Creative  value   Opinion   about  trend   reports  

Financial value  

Q16. In  general,  the  Trend   Reports  you  have  worked  with   have  been:    

Helpful, Inspiring,  Ahead-­‐of-­‐the-­‐curve,  Reliable    

Q18. In  your  opinion,  investing   in  Trend  Reports  is:    

Money well  spent    

(Strongly Disagree,  Disagree,  Agree,  Strongly  Agree)   2

(Strongly Disagree,  Disagree,  Agree,  Strongly  Agree)   Q19.  Considering  the   development  of  successful   products,  Trend  Reports  are:    

A must  have,  Nice  to  have,  Not  essential  

       

NPD value  

Table 10:  Questions  from  survey  used  for  analysis  (individual).    

Responder’s company  

METRICS

RELATED QUESTIONS  

RESULTS

GROUP 05:  

Number of  TR   purchased  yearly  

Q13. How  many  Trend  Reports  does   your  department  purchase  a  year?  

None 1  to  2   3  to  5   More  than  5   I  don't  know  

Number of  TR   created  yearly  

Q14. How  many  Trend  Reports  does   your  department  create  a  year?    

None 1  to  2   3  to  5   More  than  5   I  don't  know  

Investment in   trends  reports  

Table 11:  Questions  from  survey  used  for  analysis  (company).  

2

In  the  questionnaire  there  were  two  other  categories  for  ‘financial  value’    -­‐  ‘guaranteed  return  of  investment’  and  ‘a  risky  strategy’.   Unfortunately  those  alternatives  had  to  be  disregarded  in  the  analysis  because  of  the  risk  of  obtaining  ambiguous  results.    

75


App. 05: Definitions of SME (European Commission, 2003)

Fig. 20:  Definitions  of  SMEs  according  to  the  European  Commission  (2003).  

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The Role and Value of Trend Reports for Product Designers  

MPhil Thesis 2011

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