What is Trend Mapping, and what are best practices, tools and templates for teams and organizations?
Definition of Trend Mapping
Trend Mapping is the process of graphically illustrating the key trends affecting the market in which a business operates. A Trend Map is a tool designed to help individuals increase their knowledge of the relevant context, external developments, and changes over time relevant to the market and the business’ products and services in that market.
Description of Trend Mapping
Trend Mapping is typically conducted as a group activity in order to leverage the group’s collective knowledge of the market under consideration. It is not appropriate to conduct Trend Mapping with individuals who have limited knowledge of the relevant market trends.
Prior to conducting a Trend Mapping session, it is helpful to conduct preliminary research on the market by reviewing publicly available data and reports, as well as conducting a few interviews with subject matter experts in order to gather key perspectives. It is also possible, but not necessary, to ask participants in the Trend Mapping session to think ahead of time about the market trends that are reinforcing or working against the company’s marketing strategy and product portfolio. When you are ready to conduct the session, prepare the room with poster paper, markers, post-its, and sticky dots to engage participants.
Begin the Trend Mapping session by providing a brief introduction of the market, industry, and set of relevant products or services, and then initiate a brainstorming activity whereby participants are asked to write down 10-15 different trends that are either supporting or impeding progress with respect to the company’s product portfolio, each on a separate post-it. Have each person share one of the trends with the group before placing it on the poster with the market written at the center. Related or overlapping trends should be placed together; those that are disparate should be placed separately. Once all of the post-its have been placed on the poster/map, draw clusters around the groupings to identify the themes. Participants are then invited to place their five sticky dots on the trends they believe are of the highest priority, either as supporting trends that must be exploited, or impeding trends that pose significant risks to the company.
Once all of the dots have been placed, engage in a discussion about the results of the prioritization process. What are the outcomes and potential implications? How can we move forward strategically to address these areas? What are the appropriate next steps? Attempt to deepen the group’s understanding of the various impacts on the business. Following the Trend Mapping session, ask the group for any final inputs on finalizing the Trend Map and propose a plan for disseminating it in the organization. Create an action plan that follows up on the outcomes of the map and group discussion.
Tools & Templates
Trend Mapping is often conducted on whiteboards or on flip charts, but more and more teams use online tools and templates to capture and articulate key trends that will impact their markets and organizations.
upBOARD's Online Trend Mapping Tools & Templates
Unlike most traditional Trend Mapping techniques, upBOARD’s online Trend Mapping collaboration tools allow any team or organization to instantly begin working with our web templates and input forms. Our digital platform goes far beyond other software tools by including progress dashboards, data integration from existing documents or other SaaS software, elegant intuitive designs, and full access on any desktop or mobile device.
Learn more about upBOARD’s portfolio of other marketing best practice tools and templates, including:
7 Cs Compass Model, AIDA Marketing Model, BCG Matrix, Brand Identity Prism, Brand Pyramid, Closed Loop Customer Feedback, Content Marketing, Content Marketing Metrics, Customer Experience Maturity Model, Customer Relationship Management, Customer Journey Mapping, Digital Marketing, Environmental Scanning, Ethnographic Research, Four Ps, Market Sizing, Net Promoter Score, Personas, Positioning, Segmentation, STP Model, Trend Mapping, and Value Propositions.