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Will predicts such demands long before they hit the mainstream, guiding client organisations to:
- Pick winners. Discover which new behaviours, audiences and investments offer the biggest opportunity.
- Foster champions. Develop more successful new products, services and communications campaigns.
- Build loyalty. Improve customer experiences across platforms and encourage allegiance.
- Save money. Capitalise on cost-effective new production, distribution and funding models.
Will removes this problem. He gives clients a clear vision of the future, helping them:
- Understand tomorrow What will life be like in the shopping malls and workplaces of the future?
- Predict demand. Reliably anticipate customers’ expectations, media platforms and purchase drivers.
- Future-proof strategy. Answer key questions e.g. Will shops survive? How will tech impact supply chains?
- Embed innovation. Develop innovation culture, agile approach to change, and effective foresight pipeline.
Will provides robust, insightful futures data that helps his clients avoid:
- Failed products. Ensure NPD is informed by what tomorrow’s customers will actually want.
- Falling behind. Be more aware of potential challenges from inside and outside the client sector.
- Losing credibility. Safeguard brand values against changing market attitudes.
Will supports clients to:
- Embed innovation. Develop an innovation culture, agile approach and effective foresight pipeline.
- Improve efficiency. Capitalise on cost-effective new production, distribution and funding models.
- Develop skills. Ensure the workforce has the right abilities to thrive in the future.
- Avoid me-too strategies. Innovating, not following, is becoming the key to profitability.
- Outpace competition.Implement innovative new strategies ahead of industry competitors.
Will's consultancy Next Big Thing offers a complete Futures and Strategy service, providing benefits across functions:
- providing data to support and inform commercial strategy
- inspiring more successful new product development
- predicting future sales and consumption demand
- identifying the most effective comms and sales platforms
- supporting investment and diversification decisions
- informing recruitment, comms, marketing and sales strategy
Our popular future-proofing tools are designed to answer our clients' biggest strategic concerns:
How do we predict the future?
Behavioural changes are typically triggered by attitude changes, which themselves are triggered by specific (environmental) events. By identifying an attitude change – or, better yet, identifying an event that’s likely to trigger an attitude change – we can confidently predict a behaviour change …
Next Big Thing Quiz #1. Take a guess.
In 2005 25% of Brits said they like to be first to try something. What's the figure now?
What proportion of Chinese consumers now view slowing down as a luxury?
What percentage marketshare did Nokia lose in just one year in the early '90s?
What proportion more products globally used the word ’ancient’ from 2011-2016?
How much did Britons spend at festivals from 2010-2014?
“Will really stands out from other future specialists.
He translates trends into commercial opportunities.”
Alex Owens, Head of Insight, Sainsbury’s
Will Higham is one of the UK’s most popular and trusted speakers on Futures and Strategy.
Will combines passion with usability and strategic inspiration with reliable insights. He paints practical pictures of tomorrow’s business and consumer landscapes, and explores the implications.
He delivers keynotes, seminars and lectures; moderates and appears on panels; and chairs conferences for a wide range of industries: from finance to fashion, luxury to leisure.
To book Will to give a talk, or find out more, click here
Will’s inspiring talks:
- help audiences make friends with change: identifying the commercial opportunities disruption offers
- act as a powerful wake-up call: alerting audiences to unexpected threats, disruption and competition
- offer insights and examples from multiple industries and 15 years of trends experience
They address key concerns:
- price vs privacy vs convenience
- skills needs and shortages
- online vs offline vs omnichannel retail
- ownership vs access-ship
- new luxury and premium drivers
- how to appeal to new consumers
Make friends with change.
Will’s talks explain how:
- to take advantage of new opportunities
- to avoid getting left behind
- to embed innovation into the enterprise
- to anticipate and fend off outlier competitors
- new trends will impact specific industry sectors
Audiences come away from Will's talks:
- more informed about the future
- with practical, forward-facing ideas they can action immediately
- feeling confident they won’t get left behind
- excited, inspired … and ready to innovate
“Will got the brief exactly and delivered just the kind of speech we wanted.”
Laura Kozasvili, Head of Events, British
Talks for all occasions
Will chairs, moderates and speaks at a wide variety of events,
run by global brands, industry bodies and media leaders: from
Barclaycard and ABTA to The Financial Times and Retail Week.
Events this year took Will from Manila to Austin TX.
Below are four of Will’s most popular keynotes.
To book him to give one tailored to you, click here.
This talk helps business leaders adapt their strategies to new consumer trends:
- Understand the importance of innovation to performance, longevity, brand and infrastructure.
- Learn about the biggest emerging consumer trends and the threats and opportunities they pose.
- Discover practical ways to utilise them to create appealing new products, services and marketing campaigns.
This talk helps audiences anticipate and appeal to tomorrow’s new ‘Smart Consumer’:
- Discover what will motivate and appeal to your customers in future.
- Learn how to create products, services and strategies which they will want.
- Gain actionable insights to implement into marketing, communications and strategy.
This talk provides practical insights into hiring, motivating and retaining the new ‘smart employee’.
- Better comprehend the future wants, needs and drivers of your workforce
- Obtain a practical roadmap to improved employee motivation and efficiency
- Discover how to future-proof your hiring, retention and rewards policy.
Don’t be distracted by success. Success today is no guarantee of success tomorrow.
We've been fortunate to work with some of our favourite global brands
We've inspired and informed effective strategy decisions in a variety of sectors:
- we identified behaviour trends that convinced a Top 10 global telecoms provider to create a global broadcast strategy
- we inspired one of the world’s biggest banks to create a successful new pensions product based around Baby Boomer trends
- our research on early ‘hipster’ culture helped a Top 3 global beer manufacturer switch to a more successful brand image
- we created a luxury trends report for a global media agency which they used as a successful sales tool for almost two years
- our research on changing Youth attitudes helped an international media company significantly boost their advertising revenue
TestimonialsWhat Our Clients Say
Head of Insights and Future Communications / Telefonica (O2, Movistar)
Director of Insight, Foresight & Innovation / AOL
Senior Content Editor / Financial Times Global Conferences
Head of Insight / Sainsbury’s
Head of Digital / Levis Europe
You can view change as a threat or an opportunity.
Successful companies view it as an opportunity.
Next Big Thing Quiz #2. Give it a go.
What proportion of citizens globally distrust their governments, businesses, or both?
How much money has been pledged to projects on Kickstarter so far?
What percentage of Spanish consumers typically sleep holding their handsets?
Which company could have bought Netflix for just $50 million in 2000
What percentage of US Millennials self-identify as “foodies”?
Sep 05 2017Article by Will on the workplace in The Economist. "The traditional office environment, where a set number of salaried employees work 9-5 in fixed silos, feels increasingly at odds with the contemporary world ..."
Jul 17 2017We live in an era when the right innovation at the right time can make or break any company. When it comes to innovation, today no company is too big to fail ...
Apr 05 2016Article by Will in Ad Week on demographics. "Standard age-related targeting can't be relied on any more. Today many adolescents act like they're 'middle-aged', while older consumers maintain 'adolescent' interests, outlooks and behaviours ..."
Mar 29 2016Article by Will on trends for 2016 in Director. "In the year ahead, UK consumers will increasingly reject the technological in favour of the traditional, creating new opportunities for business ..."
Mar 13 2016Article by Will on trends in Huffington Post. Today's youngest generation happily embraces the 'uncool', swords and sorcery are no longer dirty words and technical skills are being lauded. Is Prog Rock due a revival?
"The brain is the most rational thing in the universe.
But the way it solves problems is ad hoc and very local."
Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science, Warwick Business School
Next Big Thing Quiz #3. Try your luck.
What proportion of CEOs expect major disruption in their sector in the next 3 years?
What proportion admit their organisation doesn’t have the means to respond?
How many requests per week does Apple’s voice-activated service Siri get?
One billion. ** Voice activated assistance is a huge growth area **
How many Germans think social justice more important than the economy?
How many Americans say their ‘family’ now includes friends who aren’t relatives?
Sep 05 2017Interview with Will on retail futures in The Times. "Futurist agency founder Will Higham says: 'We’re seeing a merger of retail, hospitality, entertainment and education ...'”
Apr 10 2016An interview with Will in The Daily Mail. "Trends analyst William Higham says life's becoming more complicated today. 'We begin one life, but we're increasingly starting a second, through choice or accident...'"
Apr 10 2016Interview with Will in The Financial Times. "Trend forecaster Will Higham believes the beard is a reaction against the idea of the metrosexual ..."
What actually is a consumer futurist?
Consumer futurists study evolving consumer attitudes and the influences on them, and predict how consumers’ behaviours, expectations and needs are likely to change in future.
Can anyone predict the future?
Everybody forecasts the future to an extent. Predicting whether an event will be worth going to, a shopping mall will be busy or a supplier will deliver what we need. We make judgement calls based on the facts we have, our knowledge of human nature and our previous experience. Futurists take a similar approach. And like all skills, the best in class tend to (a) have a natural affinity for it and (b) spend a lot of time honing their craft.
How do we predict the future?
We analyse available data (from research reports to box office receipts), combine it with an understanding of social psychology and consumer behaviour and explore how similar situations have played out in the past, to build potential future scenarios of how consumers are likely to respond to changing environments, technologies and economic situations.
Have we ever got it wrong?
When Will first started, he’d sometimes get over-excited and expect trends to hit the mainstream more quickly than they did. But he soon learned that the leap from Early Adopter to Early Mainstream can take a long time. The trends we predict today have typically already begun somewhere: the skill is to tell our clients how quickly – and how widely – they’ll spread.
Do all our predictions come true?
No-one can guarantee the future. But we only highlight trends that are likely to occur. And to enable clients to manage risk, we base each of my predictions on most likely outcomes, and give a percentage chance of if/when/how strongly each trend might happen.
Will you get the same advice as everyone else?
No. Every client has different needs. So every project or presentation is at least partially tailored towards a client’s individual needs. Workshops, audits etc are almost entirely bespoke.
Will you be able to deal with Will Higham directly?
Yes. Will only takes on projects he has the time and knowledge to fulfil himself. When you hire him, you get him. But the team provides him with all the data, analysis and/or administrative assistance he needs. Scouts scan news, reports and other media to help identify trends.
Can your company afford to use Next Big Thing?
Probably. We offer a broad range of futures services, and are able to offer strategic benefits to suit most budgets.