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  • Writer's pictureWhitney Dunlap-Fowler

Part III: Tapping into Cultural Insights for Futurecasting

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

There are several ways to employ Cultural Insights to help brands gain the right amount of Cultural Intelligence to solve for larger questions. When the right cultural insights methods are utilized, marketers are able to create solutions for today, and also plan for how their category will likely be shaped in the near future.

This is one of a series of posts that dives into the many ways cultural insights can be used for branding needs.


The most common (and most fun) way to use cultural insights is to highlight what’s to come. Emergent trend spotting, futurecasting, futureproofing and forecasting: it has many names but one main goal- to provide clients with the tools and knowledge they need to develop products, services and messaging that will continue to remain relevant for years to come.

Often clients seek immediate solutions for problems occurring today, but marketers who desire outcomes that yield long-term success must also consider leaving room for cultural insights opportunities in their RFPs.

When marketers center their plans and innovation strategies on consumer insight, they may find ripe new opportunities to deliver on unmet needs, however, it is just as common for those same brand leaders to find themselves seeking more answers a just a year later. This is why pairing consumer insight with cultural insights is such an integral piece of the puzzle. Cultural Insights guarantees that the products and innovations created to meet unmet needs are developed in a way that ensures cultural relevancy beyond just today.

By pairing the two together, marketers are able to build futureproof brand strategies, culturally aligned activation plans and strategically informed innovation pipelines that center on their customer’s needs while also remaining a relevant part of the cultural zeitgeist.

Cultural Insights to Inform Futurecasting

Before identifying what’s to come in the future, a smart cultural strategist first needs to understand the past. This is why immersing marketers into the cultural context of an idea, category, or concept should always be the first step of any futurecasting or emergent trends analysis exercise. Once we understand how a central concept or idea has shifted overtime, we can begin to think about how the cultural shifts of today will likely continue to evolve in the near future.

Successful Futurecasting is never solely built on trends. Trends are fleeting and have weak staying power however, they are still often the symptoms of larger cultural shifts that may not have yet been fully identified. By identifying the macro shifts occurring in culture, strategist can successfully plan for the future of a space, category or brand strategy idea.

Cultural Insights to Build Innovation Pipelines

It’s important to note that innovation without cultural insights or cultural nuance can result in a product or service that seems cool but has no actual practical use or traction with key audiences. Great innovation does not happen in a bubble – it must be informed by an intellectual ecosystem of inputs and considerations.

Although we may start with a deep dive into consumer insights and unmet needs, it is the job of cultural strategist to move beyond consumer input to mine trends and innovations that can deliver on those needs in new and interesting ways.

It is within this step that marketers find the most inspiration from products and services in categories outside of their own. Once the emergent themes have been identified strategists are able to build a staged pipeline that innovation teams & developers can take on overtime.


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