How to tackle trends

Tips and tricks from our Rise masterclass all about how to spot, track and work with trends...

At our latest Rise session in London, strategic insights director Laura Warby and senior consultant Berny McManus unravelled the tricky world of working with trends. While, for many, trends are still a bit of mystery (and sometimes difficult to justify the ROI), mapping and tracking cultural shifts is central to the work we do at Crowd.

Trends not only help us understand more about the brands and consumers we work with, but also where everything fits into the bigger picture – and, therefore, where opportunity and potential advantage may lie. Laura and Berny used the example of whether a premium beer could survive in its category, if the ever-changing concept of ‘premium’ wasn’t paid attention to? Chances are, it wouldn’t.

Similarly, in our culture of constant change, differentiating between a fad and actual societal progression has never been so important. Our presenters offered a stream of useful definitions and categorisation tips on how to spot meaningful shifts in consumer behaviour. Asserting that trends are far from ‘fluffy’, they also distinguished between residual, dominant and emerging expressions to refine things even further.

Three key macro trends were then highlighted and explored, taking into account their drivers and how they currently manifest within culture and brands, namely: digital decentralisation, radical benevolence and intense-inclusivity. The session then wrapped up with a set of tricks for working with trends; including a useful analytical framework and, once you’ve spotted a meaningful trend, tips on how best to track it and apply it within a business.

Thanks to all that attended and joined the conversation. We’ve wrapped up the key takeouts into a digital magazine, available to download here


Sensorial Design

We were joined by Kate Nightingale, consumer psychologist, lecturer, founder of Style Psychology and part of CrowdStars, our own network of thinkers, influencers, creators and culture-shapers...

Kate Nightingale works with fashion retailers, property developers, luxury brands and restaurant owners to develop engaging and meaningful brand experiences. Last week she popped into Crowd HQ in London to help us gain a deeper understanding of our subconscious minds and challenged our thinking on sensorial design one sense at the time.

What is an experience anyway? Experiences aren’t just things we do because brands want us to act in certain ways. Experiences are the sum of our actions and the feelings that they trigger. Experiences can last for years or be over in a second, leave long lasting emotions, or just be a fleeting feeling of pleasure, like the sun touching your skin. An experience is all the moments in between the times we interact with brands, everything that evokes and leaves an impression in our daily lives.

We’re humans not consumers. By focusing on people as holistic beings, brands can create more meaningful interactions, which take into account people’s actual behaviours. As humans, we rely on our subconscious mind to process data and make millions of micro decisions every single minute. We are influenced by: evolutionary factors, cultural, social and individualistic influences. Brands often pay a lot of attention to people’s individualistic preferences, but forget the evolutionary influences determined by the subconscious mind.

There’s a sixth sense. Key to tapping into human decision making is harnessing the senses. We have an innate preference for round shapes since when we were infants. And we make more impulse purchases (like ordering another Negroni at the bar) in dim lighting. A sense that we often forget is bodily sensation. Soft seating gives an impression of a friendly and approachable brand and rough surfaces makes us feel more empathetic towards others.   

Safety first and then appeal to pleasure. You can create a feeling of safety by inviting consumers to give a big teddy bear a hug. That’s what the owners of Loaf Sofa did to encourage their customers to make the big decision to pay for a high ticket item in their store. Once the basic needs of safety have been met, brands can focus on creating a pleasurable atmosphere. A simple trick: research shows that single aroma smells in stores increases sales by 32% and shorten people’s decision making by 40 seconds.  

Kate finished off her talk by encouraging us, as cultural insights specialists and strategists, to encourage the brands we work with to pay closer attention to the subconscious and sensorial aspects of their spaces both on and offline.

New Roles Round-Up

Here's a round-up of the current openings at Crowd DNA...

Associate Director (New York)

A key senior role in our fast-growing NYC business. More info here

Associate Director (London)

Leading and designing projects in categories such as alcohol, retail, fashion, FMCG and media. More info here

Qual/Trends/Innovation Executive (London)

A fantastic entry-level opportunity in our Hoxton Sq office (French speaker required). More info here

Senior Strategist (London)

A brand new role at Crowd DNA, bringing exciting new dimensions to what we can offer our clients. More info here

Director – Creators & Influencers (London)

An exciting opportunity to join our Hoxton Square team, working with creators and influencers. More info here


We're looking for someone to come on board in London, to get stuck in and learn plenty about project design and building client relationships...

As a business and strategy intern, you’ll gain fast-track experience in what makes agencies and clients (across sectors like social media, tech, alcohol, fashion retail) tick. You’ll get to work across a number of different areas of Crowd DNA, from helping develop new client relationships, to understanding market trends and their commercial value, to getting involved in exciting insight and strategy projects for amazing brands across multiple markets.
To join us for a three month internship, you’ll need to be someone who is:

– Smart, positive and commercially savvy

– Seriously pro-active, quick at taking on new challenges and a creative problem solver

– A confident, first rate communicator (both verbal and written)

– Able to work autonomously as well as part of a team

 To apply, please contact Laura Warby

City Limits

Introducing City Limits, a series of pieces from Crowd DNA exploring the global urban experience...

At Crowd DNA, cities are central to our work. Projects take us to many of them worldwide; briefs often seek to understand how people experience these complex spaces, or where the global commonalities of urban living give way to local nuance and unique challenges. It’s through cities that we find meaning. And, in a time where the global urban population is growing at around one million people each week, cities matter now more than ever.

Which takes us to Crowd DNA’s City Limits: a series of pieces in which we’ll explore these ever-growing hubs of humanity.

Join us as we take a view on the growing loneliness epidemic, how brands represent the urban experience, trends that are shaping the city of today and what our cities will look like by 2060.

From our city to yours, welcome to City Limits. Volume One is available to download here.

Watch the video trailer below:

An exciting opportunity to join our Hoxton Square team, working with creators and influencers...

Director (Creators & Influencers)

Building on our already considerable experience working with early adopters, those with expert perspectives, and those who can help create bright futures for our clients, we’re seeking a senior hire to push this cause further at Crowd DNA, meeting the growing needs of our clients.

  • You’ll be able to point to experience of creating/managing expert and influencer networks that span markets, disciplines, and specialisms (from street culture to academia, taking in psychology, anthropology, design, health, beauty, retail, media, tech, food, celebrity, sport, family, music, fashion and relationships along the way)

– Bespoke recruitment methods – showing us that you can reach specialist opinion former audiences in custom and authentic ways

– A track record of working with these audiences (interviews, ethnography, roundtables, citizen journalism and other remote methods)

– Evidence of getting experts and stakeholders working together in workshops

– Better still, showing how you’ve worked on co-creation projects with diverse creator types (from youth culture through to specialised industries)

– Innovation – we’d like to learn (from you!) about fresh and new ways to work with creators and influencers

– Showing how you get to strong strategic outputs and powerful narratives, often bringing the likes of semiotics, future forecasting and social listening into play

You’ll be based in our London office, but expected to input where relevant across all of our offices. Your remit will cover designing/running projects and developing business growth opportunities in this field, thought leadership, best practice and team development. The role comes with an attractive salary/package and the chance to build something new at this exciting and ambitious consultancy business.

To apply, please send a CV to






Roll up to our next Rise session in London, where Crowd DNA's Laura Warby and Berny McManus will give a masterclass in how to work with trends…

Date: May 31

Time: 8.15am-9am

Location: Crowd DNA, 5 Lux Building, 2-4 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6NU

We all know that spotting and understanding trends is the key to staying ahead of the curve. But in this world of constant innovation, differentiating between a fleeting fad and meaningful cultural progression is actually pretty difficult. Knowing your micro from your macro, or your emergent from your dominant, has never been so important.

So what exactly is a trend, and at what point should brands take notice? 

In this session, we’ll unravel what trends are all about and explore some recent cultural shifts that brands need to pay attention to in 2018 and beyond. We’ll provide a guide on working with trends; including tips on how to future-proof strategies and build lasting connections with consumers.

If you’d like to join us for coffee, croissants and a ‘how to’ guide to working with trends, please contact Pauline Rault. And feel free to pass this invite on to colleagues too.

Watch the trailer below: