Art & Design

Trend Forecasting With The Future Laboratory: The Future Is Now

By Mitchell Oakley Smith
14th Feb 2014

With clients spanning Microsoft, Louis Vuitton, Mr Porter and BMW, UK-based group The Future Laboratory is the leading trend forecasting agency in the world. 

Co-founded by Chris Sanderson and Martin Raymond, The Future Laboratory offers consumer insights and trend forecasting services to brands, helping them harness new trends and realign their strategies to stay ahead of the pack. 

The group holds regular seminar series around the world, presented by innovative thought leaders who are at the forefront of their chosen fields, inspiring new ways of thinking. Next week, The Future Laboratory will return to Sydney with two days of insightful, cutting-edge knowledge to share, tickets are still available. 

On Wednesday, Carriageworks will host the group's 2014 Trend Briefing, Gen Y Women vs Gen Y Men, looking at new ways in which to market, sell and retail to a generation where both genders are empowered and work, play and shop in new ways.  

On Friday at the Paramount Building, The Future Laboratory will present its half-day Luxury Futures Forum, an annual event for those in the luxury retail, branding, design and product innovation sectors. Speakers here include Net-a-Porter co-founder Megan Quinn, Sneakerboy founder Chris Kyvetos and Louis Vuitton Oceania CEO Philip Corne. 

We caught up with co-founder Chris Sanderson to find out what you can expect from the seminars and for insight into what the future holds . . . 

TUL: The Future Laboratory is regarded as the most important authority in trend forecasting. Can you explain the unique art of trend forecasting?

Chris Sanderson: It's all about joining the dots—observing the anomalies in culture before they become mainstream and understanding their potential impacts when combined with other influences.

TUL: How does trend forecasting affect what we as consumers do and buy?

Chris: Good trend forecasters are not influencing consumers, they are pre-empting the decisions consumers will make in the future

TUL: You have worked with a broad range of clients. Why do businesses come to you for consultation?

Chris: Why do you visit a therapist? It's the same thing. Either there's something wrong, something that could be better, or you want to feel reassured that you're doing things right

TUL: You are bringing a series of briefings to Sydney on Monday. How does the Australian market relate to your global forecasting? Do we consume and respond differently?

Chris: Australia is an interesting hybrid of European and US sensibilities with an increasingly Asian edge thrown in. But at its core it has its own distinct cultural style that makes retail here unique. And of course Australia has been hugely influential on the global scene, giving us boarding culture and its lifestyle, and what is affectionately known as ModOz: outdoor living, fusion cuisine and a clean design look and feel.

TUL: One of your seminars articulates that this is the female century, with women responding differently to brands and products than they have in the past. And how are brands responding to it?

Chris: Most: badly. Brands still think that catering to the female market means to offer it in pink. Successful brands such as Apple really understand the female consumer and you see this clearly in their designs.

TUL: Similarly, you suggest that men are in unchartered territory in terms of a new definition of masculinity. 

Chris: As women become the major economic creators and leaders, men will have to adapt and change their ways of behaving. This process has already started. Most of us are altering our behaviours without noticing; some of us are finding it more difficult. Some brands are capitalising on how men are responding—interesting to see how VB has seen sales rise (5%) at a time when most beer sales are flat or in decline—because its nostalgic, blokey approach strikes the right balance of humour and straightforwardness.

TUL: What can we expect from this seminar, and what might we gain from it?

Chris: Insight, information and inspiration. or your money back.

TUL: On a more specific level, are there any trends we should anticipate for 2014?

Chris: Convergence—it's all about things coming together—whether that be technology, people or seemingly unrelated circumstances. The key to is to expect the unexpected.


Date: Wednesday 19th February

Time: 8am – Registration and light breakfast

9am – 12.30pm – Trend Briefing

Venue: Carriageworks, Eveleigh

Tickets: $395 plus booking fee (inclusive of GST).

To book visit  


Date: Thursday, 20th February 2014

Time: 1:30 PM to 6:30PM

Venue: Golden Age Cinema, Paramount House, 80 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills

Tickets: $1000 plus booking fee (inclusive of GST).

To book visit 

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