Season 1: Episode 13

Are You Inspired, or Overwhelmed? A Conversation With Henry Mason on the “Expectation Economy”

Last month, I caught up with Henry Mason, global keynote speaker, Managing Director of Trendwatching, and co-author of Trend-Driven Innovation. We spent a sunny afternoon discussing crowd-sourced business models, the nuanced art of “trade jiu jitsu,” and the unexpected benefits when you play the role of the court jester.

Henry does not believe that trendwatching should occur from an ivory tower, or that his is a job for an elite few. Rather, he is interested in a crowd-sourced business model, where trend watchers – keen observers around the world who ask the right questions – keep an eye out for what excites them and the people around them. Through this network, he throws “intellectual hand grenades” for people who may be overly focused on business as usual. In a time where market penetration of new technology is occurring faster and faster, being able to spot important new trends and draw them back into your own world is a crucial trait for any entrepreneur.

During the course of our feisty conversation we dunked into a few seriously timely topics including the breakdown of well-honed demographic “buckets.” People are increasingly able to choose the ingredients in their own cultural soup, based on what they want rather than what society tells them they should have. It is Henry’s belief that we’re entering an era of “post-demographic consumerism,” where individuals no longer fit neatly into marketers’ classifications. If, for example, GenXers act more like Boomers when traveling – then the “categories” marketers have created for us are becoming obsolete. Hold on! What? Individuals are acting, individually? What does this fragmentation mean for designers, election campaign managers and, perhaps most importantly, for innovation?

Henry has also written a “field guide” for building our own muscle memory for trendspotting. As the world is in constant change, we can’t really rely on others to notice early shoots for us. The team at Trendwatching believe that honing our eye for spotting trends is everybody’s business. So listen along as Henry and I discuss taking the collective pulse of the global business community, subverting the narrative around consumerism, and our greatest strength as instigators.

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