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Your ultimate trend forecasting dictionary

Updated: Sep 19, 2019

There is a lot of jargon in the world today, and when it’s describing something that feels as intangible as ‘foresight’, ‘trends’ or ‘futures’, the whole conversation can become off-putting, alienating or patronising. We want to avoid that, because anticipating the future is extremely important, and it should be accessible to everyone.

Does it sounds like nonsense? credit: 'Blackboard II' by Sarah Trundle

Do you hear the phrases, read the words but all you hear is at best jargon or worse, ‘marketing speak’? Let’s make sense of what seems like nonsense and explain what these commonly used words mean in a trend context – so that you are armed and ready to create a relevant, profitable and positive future!

The below are the most common, dictionary defined meanings, but trend language is used in different ways by different people in different organisations, but if you can get your organisation using a common ‘futures language’, then your efforts to be future relevant will be easier and more productive.

This is a whistle-stop tour: if you want a deeper understanding or if you need some help getting everyone on the same page, I run a training sessions that teach businesses the skills to research and design for the future. Just get in touch with if that sparks your interest.

Get ready to play Foresight Bingo!


The anticipation of what will be needed or is likely to happen in the future. “Having foresight” is not a mystical gift bestowed on a chosen few. It’s the culmination of thorough research and creative tools to indicate what is likely, or expected to happen.


A clear, accurate and deep understanding into something or someone. i.e. “after interviewing amateur athletes, we now have deep insights around teenage runners in the UK”.


A change in behaviour or viewpoint, defined by a significant increase or decrease. i.e. “there is a decline in the number of young people drinking alcohol”.


A broad term applied to the direction in which something is moving or developing. Can be anything: skirt length, attitudes, house buying, belief, weather… and can be over any length of time.


Approximately a 10-20 year lifespan: big global shifts in science, tech, culture and human capacity that are shaping the way we live and behave. i.e. “our globally ageing population is a big trend affecting us over an extended period of time”.


Approximately a 5-10 year lifespan: Sub-conscious responses to the mega trends with a shorter, but still highly significant lifespan.


Approximately a 6 month - 5 year lifespan: Conscious and more immediately felt impact of the mega trends and macro drivers.


The opposite behaviour to a trend. Significant as led by forward thinkers, and therefore important to pay attention to as they could become more influential.


Early indicators of a shift about to happen, often taking place at the edges of society (in alternative and fringe movements).


Events that are hard to predict, come as a surprise and have a significant effect. i.e. the 9/11 terrorist attacks.


What people value and want: opportunities to solve problems for people.

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