This page has an average rating of %r out of 5 stars based on a total of %t ratings
Reading Time 5 Minutes Reading Time 5 Minutes
Created on 10.07.2024

Develop product ideas with the help of megatrends

You can develop new product ideas from trends. But where can you find information on trends and how can companies work with trends? Trend radars are a useful tool. They help companies to react systematically to changes in the market and make their business fit for the future.

At a glance

  • Trends and megatrends are catalysts for innovative product ideas.
  • Companies can use a trend radar to identify the trends that are relevant to them.
  • VNTR, PostFinance’s innovation and venturing unit, uses a specialized innovation platform to identify and analyse trends.

Keep informed about innovation topics with our business newsletter. Or subscribe to our payment newsletter if you are specifically interested in payment.

It’s worthwhile for companies to have a look at current trends. Generally speaking, a trend is an observable change in the market that indicates new customer requirements, expectations and behaviours.

What are the differences between trends and megatrends?

Trends and megatrends differ in terms of their extent, duration and impact. While trends are often short-term and specific, megatrends have a long-term and comprehensive impact on society, the economy and/or technology.

Specific changes within a particular sector, market or consumer behaviour
Comprehensive and significant changes that span multiple sectors
Can occur quickly and disappear again after a few months or years
Are long-lasting and have a lasting effect over several years or decades
Often have a limited and specific impact on certain areas or groups
Have far-reaching and profound effects on many areas of society, the economy and/or technology

The following examples illustrate the difference between trends and megatrends.

Trends include:

  • Consumer trends: food delivery services, e-bikes and zero-packaging shops
  • Technology trends: self-driving cars, using drones in logistics and the smart grid
  • Fashion trends: skinny jeans, animal prints, etc.
  • Sociocultural trends: slowness (e.g. soft tourism), simplify (desire for simplification)

Megatrends include:

  • Demographic change: ageing population and falling birth rates in many parts of the world
  • Neo-ecology: increasing importance of ecological and sustainable thinking
  • Technological revolution: new technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and automation
  • Globalization: growing worldwide networking in business, culture and politics

Useful information

Trends are often driven by megatrends. The zero-waste trend, for example, is primarily part of the neo-ecology megatrend.

Who researches megatrends?

There are various institutes and companies that research megatrends and make the results available. These include the following:


The German Zukunftsinstitut is known for its comprehensive analyses and publications on megatrends, covering various areas such as society, technology, the economy and the environment.

Roland Berger

Roland Berger, the international strategy consultancy, regularly publishes reports on global megatrends and their impact on various sectors and markets. Roland Berger’s Trend Compendium is published in English.

Why are current trends important for the development of new products?

Trends are catalysts for innovation. For example, technological trends such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of things (IoT) have triggered the development of new gadgets, smart devices and networked solutions. The increasing focus on health has given rise to products such as fitness trackers. The increasing demand for sustainable product ideas, meanwhile, has fuelled the spread of environmentally friendly packaging, sustainable fashion and renewable energy sources. What this means for companies is that if they systematically analyse trends and integrate them into their development processes, they will be able to launch more innovative, more marketable and more successful products. This in turn gives them a competitive advantage.

What are the benefits of a trend radar for product development?

A trend radar is a tool for systematically identifying and analysing trends. It can play a valuable role in product development by helping companies to identify emerging trends at an early stage and integrate them into development processes. In other words, it serves to identify changes in customer requirements and expectations and, with it, market opportunities. This allows companies to respond to trends by developing products before the competition does. However, a trend radar is also a useful tool for deciding which product developments need to be prioritized and which resources should be allocated to them. Projects that have the greatest potential impact on the market move up the development pipeline. And above all, trend radars provide inspiration at the very beginning of the development process.

How can SMEs create a trend radar? A short guide in five steps

We explain below how an SME can create its own trend radar in five steps.

  • Firstly, the trend radar objectives should be clearly defined. If you want to work on developing a product idea, the goal can be as follows: we want to know which current trends will be relevant for our company over the next ten years and how they will influence our customers’ behaviour. To create a trend radar, the company plans the required resources such as time, budget and staff, and brings on board all the relevant stakeholders who are to be involved in the process.

  • The company identifies various internal and external sources from which relevant data can be obtained. These include industry reports, market studies, scientific publications, patents, social media and trade journals. Tools such as Google Trends, Google Alerts, social media monitoring tools and databases (e.g. Statista, Google Scholar) can also be helpful. The collected data should be organized in a structured form, e.g. in an Excel spreadsheet or a database.

  • The collected data is analysed to identify relevant trends. The aim is to identify recurring patterns, emerging technologies and changing customer needs. Possible assessment criteria are:

    • Topics: which topics does the trend affect (e.g. politics, economy, society, technology, environment, law, etc.)?
    • Influence: what influence is the trend likely to have on the company?
    • Time horizon: when will the trend be applied within the sector by the
    • majority of market participants?
    • Risks: what are the risks if we (don’t) take the trend into account?
    • Degree of innovation: what potential does the trend have to develop innovative and marketable products?
    • Strategic fit: how does the trend fit into the company’s strategy?
    • Market acceptance: how is the trend being accepted by customers?
  • The company is now “drawing” a trend radar to visualize the identified trends. Diagram tools such as Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets or specialized software can be used. The radar is usually illustrated as a circle or semi-circle in which the trends are arranged according to their proximity to the company (central or peripheral) and the need for action (observation, planning, action). Short descriptions and examples should be added to each trend to better illustrate their significance and potential impact.

  • The SME derives specific measures and strategies from the trend radar in order to respond to the identified trends. It is important to continuously monitor the identified trends and regularly adjust the trend radar − for example monthly, quarterly or annually, depending on the sector’s dynamics.

What does a trend radar look like?

How VNTR systematically identifies trends and manages the early innovation portfolio

Innovation teams at larger companies often work with specialized software solutions for innovation management to identify and analyse trends. This is also the approach used by VNTR, PostFinance’s innovation and venturing unit. VNTR uses the ITONICS platform (which is now also used throughout the company) to support cross-functional teams in promoting innovative projects.

More on the subject

This page has an average rating of %r out of 5 stars based on a total of %t ratings
You can rate this page from one to five stars. Five stars is the best rating.
Thank you for your rating
Rate this article

This might interest you too