Our UP trends philosophy

Brands often tell us that they are looking for a better way of using the trends they have. They have access to good trend information, but working future trends back into something consumer facing is difficult. At the same time, primary research tends to focus on the here and now – it doesn’t give the stretch brands need to identify the new. This is creating a gap between the now and the next, and we have found an elegant way of bridging this gap.


What is UP Trends?

UP Trends is the new applied consumer trends model from the Culture + Trends team at Join the Dots.

It combines a deep understanding of people (that’s what the ‘UP’ stands for!) with our trend expertise to help clients design for changing consumer needs. ­­The model is unique because it bridges the gap between the now and next, and in doing makes trends easier to apply and ultimately more useful.

Our 14 trends are grounded in Positive Psychology, and are backed up by data. They are fully profiled UK trends, launched January this year. You can download the trends here.

We have designed UP Trends to support clients with their strategic mid-term planning cycles (1-3yrs). Currently it is aimed at UK brands, but we are looking to roll it out to other markets in the future. ­­

You can also head to our blog to discover articles about individual trends, as well as the macro forces that sit behind the them.


How did we develop them?

We have established a process of identifying and quantifying consumer trends, drawing on Positive Psychology to ensure our trends are rooted in genuine consumer needs. We incorporated mainstream, leading-edge (provided by our Illume Guides) and far future thinking to create a rich picture that connects the now and next.

Taking our model further than most, we’ve quantified our UK trends. We’ve done this through a nationally representative survey of 2,000 UK consumers. This allows us to measure how developed a trend is – for example some trends are ‘Nascent’ while others are more ‘Established’. By cutting the data we can dig even deeper and analyse the trends by generation, gender or location. By doing this, we can create populations that reflect our clients’ target consumer.

Graph shows 14 UP Trends plotted against their development stage


How do we use it?

The true value of our UP Trends is in their application to real life challenges and briefs.

We use a modular approach when applying our trends. This consists of three elements designed to help clients unlock commercial opportunities. Each module can be used alone, or more powerfully, in combination:


The above modules can be used alongside other research streams. For example, we can combine them with a programme of secondary research that looks into a particular angle or topic, or we can combine the modules with primary research such as depth interviews or ethnography.


How can it be applied?

UP Trends can be applied to a range of commercial challenges:

Examples of our work in UP Trends

Example: Building on trends to offer clarity and foresight

A leading food and drink company approached us looking to refresh their existing macro trends, as a way to inform their market execution plan. They wanted to understand how these broader global macro trends were ‘showing face’ out-of-home, how each was evolving and if there were any emerging shifts to watch out for.

We benchmarked their macro trends against our UP Trends model, uncovering the underlying consumer need they addressed. Working with our leading edge Illume Guides we uncovered evidence of how the trends played out on the ground and where they were heading next.

Armed with this deeper understanding of their trends, our client was able to forge a clear strategic vision and plan for the future.


Example: Future planning for confectionery  NPD

We worked with the internal brand marketing team at a major confectionery manufacturer to explore the societal changes that have the potential to affect their business in the coming years.

Through our UP Trends model – we identified the emerging trends that held the greatest potential for opportunity, providing an understanding of how the trends were playing out in people’s lives, and predicting where they were likely to head next.

We shared our insights and brought the trends to life through an immersive workshop, using props ranging from champagne to baby powder! Co-creation activities during the session generated future NPD and activation ideas.


Example: Developing a new high street entertainment concept

Our client approached us with an exciting challenge – they were developing a new high street gaming concept and wanted to ensure it was future-proofed with consumer trends at the heart. They had carried out initial work to map the future of the high street, but the output was too conceptual and lacked a human connection.

Using our UP Trends model we mapped consumers’ changing needs and expectations of the high street. We went on to identify what the new concept would need to do and offer in order to meet these evolved requirements for out-of-home entertainment.

The findings were used to inform the primary research, including a series of co-creation sessions with consumers and the client. The concept is now live at three UK sites.


Get in touch

Ultimately the exact way we apply our thinking will come down to your business challenges. If you’d like to talk about ways we could help you, or if you have any questions, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

Kelly McKnight – Head of Culture and Trends