The Future of Insight, Henry Mason, CEO of TrendWatching

The Future of Insight, Henry Mason, CEO of TrendWatching

TrendWatching is the go-to consumer insight and strategy platform reaching 260,000 subscribers in over 80 countries with over 1,200 company clients.

Henry Mason studied Politics & International Relations at the University of Nottingham and joined TrendWatching in 2010. Today, Henry is the CEO of TrendWatching, running global activities and driving the company’s strategic direction forward. 

If you have been following our recent Living in the Creative Zone interviews you might have caught our feature on Reinier Evers, founder of TrendWatching, and his take on the strategic insights industry.

impactmania’s Jody Turner caught up with Henry Mason as a follow-up on how the CEO has taken the reigns from the founder. Henry shared on where the insight industry is going and what he is doing in response to the current changes in the marketplace. 


Interviewing from the West Coast, USA, trendwatcher, Jody:

Henry, we have known each other for some time, having met in a number of cities while presenting up and coming trend insight! Initially we met through Reinier Evers, founder of TrendWatching. I have enjoyed watching you take the reins setting TrendWatching off in new
directions. Before we speak further, what in your background led you to, or prepared you for, leading (at such a young age) the top global insight engine TrendWatching?

The Londoner and CEO of TrendWatching, Henry:

I am interested in, and seriously passionate about, politics and business. I wanted to know how things in the business world worked. Today, I am driven daily by a mission to demystify TrendWatching. Many people try and create an air of mystique around what they do. For us this is not the case. While very focused on our content and the way we approach asking question about the future, we are passionately intent on sharing how we do what we do. We are making trend driven innovation and trend driven thinking very much like design thinking or human centered design. It’s an ideology, methodology and mindset that is useful and applicable in business, we want this broadly accessible to everyone.

Jody: Where do you think trendwatching as an overarching practice is going?

Henry: For the big challenges we collectively face, people come to us for answers. People historically come to trend for answers, but we help them ask the right question about the importance of what they are seeking. The impact.

With the questions people bring, we see that they are trying to capture a way to think and process for better outcomes, particularly in what they create and do. Design thinking is very today and very IDEO. But, it is more than IDEO, it is a collection of businesses seeking and driven by people and teams reaching for higher outcomes.

To have a meaningful impact as a business you cannot always be there in the room. You have to foster a community of thinkers and doers who are empowered to work on their own. Trend thinking, or how to know when and where to spot the trend opportunity is vital in growing a business. This is where we sit, between the opportunity space, the idea, and the larger outcome than ever imagined.

This approach came from growing our own business…we realized as we hired people around the world, we had to lay out our success thinking and our approach in a realistic, clear, and accessible manner.

The more we worked with those in São Paulo, Laos, and Singapore, the more we saw them apply our ideas and gain a certain human-driven empowerment. We realized this is what we could do for our clients — teach them how to successfully take our approach and run with it. Currently we have designers, teams of people, working on taking this to scale.

Jody: This is very new since you have taken the reigns from Reinier Evers, founder of TrendWatching. 

Henry: Yes, we have historically been a content publisher, and yet the natural evolution of publishing a book on this content found us also capturing the end-to-end methodology. We have been using our own trend methodology for a very long time and now we get to help organizations around the world; create relevant content and a mindset to go out there and be better equipped to survive the forces of change.

Jody: After working with you at TrendWatching, working in the insight industry for many years, and even working on projects with IDEO, I know this is not design thinking or human centered design. I see its deep value; can you explain to us the difference?

Henry: The difference for us is the level of analysis. We are driven by micro, small groups of consumers, their deep behaviors, emotions, and triggers. It is deep. Concurrently, we are looking at the macro level, the sweeping insights about future opportunities within industries. We are at the divergent thinking stage driving forward that opportunity space everyone is seeking and fill it with the detailed information, context, and synthesis of insight right where the end-user lives.

Design thinking is about refining what emerges from trend analysis. We can help each other here, ask questions as to where the industry is heading which dovetails beautifully into design thinking process and production.

Jody: Beautiful Henry, you have and are modernizing trend thinking into insight and strategic thinking/doing.

Henry: Yes! In a world where industries are totally overturned, in which the old world is shattering quickly, our approach is highly relevant. TrendWatching provides powerful early warning systems, ways to see the big shifts coming and how to react positively, proactively, and appropriately.

By helping you understand which questions you are finding answers to, showing you what you could be doing at the business level to bring ideas forward and having them stick, is our biggest passion. This is our work.

We are opening people’s minds to future opportunities, THEIR future opportunities, personally and professionally, with meaning and relevance.

Jody: And your goal with this?

Henry: That within five years the TrendWatching process is recognized on a level that design thinking is in business today.

Jody: We ask frequently what were your biggest personal learning, teaching, and surprise in this work you are doing?

Henry: Jody, my biggest surprise is how much I enjoy watching other people develop trendwatching skills. I never saw myself as an educator and it is an enjoyable discovery about myself.


Living in the Creative Zone, Transforming the World One Idea at a Time is a book featuring 101 innovators from around the world sharing their personal and professional creative journeys. Living in the Creative Zone will publish the full collection of global interviews in the fall of 2018.