Interviews

Published on May 8th, 2019 | by Darren Paltrowitz

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Trend Hunter’s Shelby Walsh On Future Festival, The Role Of Influencers, Trends & More

With 20,000,000 monthly views, TrendHunter.com is the world’s largest, most popular trend community. Behind the scenes, the company leverages big data, human researchers and AI to identify consumer insights and deep dive opportunities for the world’s most innovative companies. Its research and workshops have recently empowered more than 500 brands, billionaires and CEOs, including Coca-Cola, Adidas, Victoria’s Secret, IBM, Cisco, Microsoft and NASA.

Beyond studying more than 350,000 cutting edge ideas using over 3 billion choices from 150,000,000 people, Trend Hunter also presents the Future Festival series of conferences. Future Festival aims to bring together a city’s leading innovators — from large companies to start-ups — to discuss and experience the biggest up-and-coming trends. Upcoming Future Festival events include Seattle (May 13th), New York (May 21st), Minneapolis (May 23rd), Berlin (June 27th) and Los Angeles (July 15th).

I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Shelby Walsh, President at Trend Hunter, about Future Festival and more. Additional info on Trend Hunter and its major upcoming conferences can be found online at both www.TrendHunter.com and www.FutureFestival.com.

For someone who’s unfamiliar, what exactly is the Future Festival?

Shelby Walsh: Trend Hunter’s Future Festival is a place for the world’s top innovators can come together to prototype their future. 97 percent of brands who’ve attended which range from Netflix to Nestle rate it the best innovation conference ever. What’s great about this 11-city event is that it allows attendees to experience next year’s trends and get ahead of the curve to be better prepared for the future. Whether you’re interested in generational, retail, technology, marketing, etc. trends, we have something for anyone interested in consumer insights and innovation.

Future Festival is in a lot of different cities. Is each festival different from the last?

Shelby Walsh: Every year, we make sure to showcase the freshest case studies available and dive into the most relevant insights we’ve uncovered with our three billion views of data in categories such as food and beverage, CPG, technology and entertainment. Our 1,000-person World Summit, which will be taking place in Toronto this year on October 1st-3rd is going to have dozens of new educational trend safaris. These are essentially field trips we take attendees on to experience the trends we speak about on stage first-hand from the people creating them. We’ll also have a ton of new immersive experiences at our Future Party this year. Last year we partnered with NASA and created a dome with Igoo Vision where people could feel like they’re having a cocktail on the moon!

As the President and Head of Research at Trend Hunter, how much of your average day goes to actually seeking trends? Or these days, do most of the trends simply come to you?

Shelby Walsh: I wish the trends could “just simply come to me,” but it’s not that simple or easy. That’s why we have a whole team of over 60 people and 200,000 global contributors that help Trend Hunter and our clients to find better ideas, faster. Our editorial team and our insights teams are truly the heart of our organization and they help me to keep in the loop with the most critical shifts going on with a monthly newsletter and a large daily dose of content for our website.

To you, how important is traditional media like print or network television when it comes to discovering interesting new things?

Shelby Walsh: There is still a place for traditional media, but Trend Hunter was created to really leverage the power of crowd instead of relying on gut instinct or a select few gurus. The Internet has really changed the way trend research can enable brands to validate decisions, assess upcoming trends and innovate more confidently.

Sort of the inverse question, are social media influencers really that important when it comes to finding long-term, influencing, important concepts? I ask, because a lot of publicists seem to view social media influencers as being a way to make a short term impact if any.

Shelby Walsh: The truth is, it truly depends. How and why you leverage social media influencers will be different depending on what you’re looking to accomplish. Will leveraging an army of micro-influencers work for seeding your product and establishing trust with a larger consumer base? Alternatively, will leveraging celebrity allow your brand to leapfrog competitors and create a sense of aspiration among consumers? Many dollars have been misspent when it comes to influencers, but with spend on Instagram influencer marketing alone this year predicted to reach $2 billion, it’s clear that spend here will not slow and some brands who have been strategic here are seeing big ROI.

Future Festival aside, what are some of things that Trend Hunter is currently working on?

Shelby Walsh: We’re constantly working turning around custom trend reports for our hundreds of clients, so that keeps us busy on the day-to-day. We do have a couple really exciting things in the pipeline and one of them is our E-Learning platform which will allow teams to complete modules surrounding topics such as the Future of Technology and the Future of Consumer Behaviour to better educate themselves on topics that are most interesting to them and relevant to their work. We also have just launched our Futurist keynote speaker program, which allows anyone to get an engaging Future Festival speaker at their own event.

When not busy with Trend Hunter, how do you like to spend your free time?

Shelby Walsh: There are few things I love more than travel and food. I’m always looking to visit somewhere I’ve never been before and have a bucket list of countries and cities I’m slowly ticking off.

What was the last concert you went to for fun?

Shelby Walsh: The last concert I went to was a friend of mine’s, Kendal Thompson. She’s an incredibly talented Toronto-based artist and her music has a fun vibe.

Finally, Shelby, any last words for the kids?

Shelby Walsh: Come and find out the latest trends at one of our many Future Festivals!

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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident (and Long Island native) with over 15 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his favorite band Superdrag. In the years following, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer.Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Format Magazine, Businessweek, The Improper, the L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. He is a member of the SATW and the IFWTWA organizations as a food and travel writer.Darren is also the host the recently-launched "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast, as co-produced with PureGrainAudio.



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