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Fuck the data base predictions

Report from The Greenhouse 004, general - cosmetics - fashion

Databases do not allow you to predict the unpredictable. Corona is a good example of this, there was no data telling us this was going to happen.


Trend forecasting based on data is predicting the future based on history.

The point is this: you cannot predict with data, that which has not yet happened.

Report from The Greenhouse "Fuck The Data Base"Part 01

Note This is one of the first video's made in the quarantine studio The Greenhouse. The quality and format were all "a 'improviste" - typical Corona lockdown.


In the past years, the last 5 to 10 years, companies have been developing business and product strategies driven by data (records)


Trend forecasting based on data:

01 The world became data driven, internet (cookies) provided a lot of data. As a result data monitor companies that collected and sold data emerged. The database companies started predicting the future based on the data of last season; data of the past.


02 Most people prefer not to take risks in their professional life, as they risk losing their job if something does not work as planned. In the business world data is seen as safe, numbers, proven facts. If you take a decision concerning the future direction of the company and you do so based on data, facts, and numbers, you can always justify it by falling back on those facts. And thereby protect your own position.


Conclusion Trend forecasting based on data is predicting the future based on history. These database companies even started predicting the future based on the data of last season, data of the past.


Result

This resulted in a pattern repetition – if green pants sold well last season according to the data, it’s an easy decision to put green pants in next seasons collection. We end up repeating ourselves and many clients already have the green pants– there is no real innovation, no trying of anything new; we stay in a repeating bubble.


Databases do not allow you to predict the unpredictable. Corona is a good example of this, there was no data telling us this was going to happen.


Next to that, the data from last year is useless…comparing

The World Before with The World After does not make any sense. The fact that green trousers or green handbags sold well in April last year, says nothing about sales during lockdown, nor The World After Corona.

Report from The Greenhouse "Fuck The Data Base" Part 02

Note This is one of the first video's made in the quarantine studio The Greenhouse. The quality and format were all "alla improvise" - typical Corona lockdown.


That is the case for many trends.

An example: I predicted a growing appreciation in the cosmetics industry for the elderly -

Cool to be old”

We age, but we still have good jobs. Anna Wintour (Vogue) still sits on the front row at fashion shows. In the past, the elderly were relegated to retirement homes. And while we never wanted to be seen as “old”, now we see that being old doesn’t mean you can no longer work or lead a life in the spotlight. As our level of education increases (, even more so for women) we have better jobs. And crises have kept us in the workforce for longer.

The prospect of being old is not as bad as it was in the past, as our preconceptions change. You can still participate in the world and undertake activities while you are old. Concurrently, we see anti-aging, think Botox and anti-wrinkle products – to the point that it becomes foolish even.


For example: Donatella Versace. No one can look at her face and think that was a good idea. She is an example of what we do not want.


It makes us realize that we can age, and that aging comes with wrinkles, and our attempts to stop aging can in fact make us look worse.


As aging gracefully gains appreciation, the impact for the cosmetics industry is that anti-wrinkle creams will sell less. A wrinkle once signified something bad, but it is no longer such a problem to look old anymore. Rather some beautiful wrinkles than a foolish face.


I predicted this to the cosmetics industry, and especially warned the raw material ingredient suppliers for anti-wrinkle cream, which is a billion-dollar industry. I told them that the trend will move away from anti-wrinkle creams, to other functionalities. I first mentioned this in Barcelona (2010), and it was not received well as the anti-wrinkle industry did not want to face the facts, and lose their billion dollar business. The reality is you had better accept the coming changes. You can keep on selling anti-wrinkle creams as your cash cow, but you also have to be prepared for the future, one in which consumer demands might be different.


Prepare your business to be ready for that change: if a cream is not anti-wrinkle, what will it be? Whats next?


Ask yourself some questions: ‘what is my main product?’ ‘what do we have in development?’ ‘what do we have in stock?’ ‘what are old products, that do we not sell anymore? Think about the opportunities to connect those to the next trend after anti-aging. If we were to only look at the data at the time, we would say: “it’s impossible, look at the diagrams, we are selling more and more and more.” And the people dealing in the raw ingredients were even less willing to hear it because their jobs and futures were at stake. Two years later I was quoted in the London Times as having predicted the downfall of anti-wrinkle creams; nobody had a clue what I meant, and now it is happening.

The point is this: you cannot predict with data, that which has not yet happened.

But you CAN predict it with visionary thinking and watching what is going on in the world.

The rise of the Corona virus has shown us that there are many things we cannot predict. And you can ask yourself ‘Could a trend forecaster have predicted that?’. And in a way they could. Looking at an over-pressured economy, overcooked industries, 10% year on year growth, and a general belief that there was no way to hold back the growth, I said: “We cannot continue like this, we are ruining the earth, something is going to happen.” I even predicted it might be an illness.


Everybody loves data, because they are numbers, they are fixed, and we like to work with facts. But data are facts from history. And they don’t tell us about the future. We need to use our feelings more, and I predict that trend forecasting feelings are going to be even more important. Companies can no longer rely on databases; todays reality is not the same as a year ago.


We have to rely on our own visions. I can help you with that, but you can also do it yourself, you know your business.


This is a big change. Corona fucked up database predictions and innovation pipelines designed based on what sold well before. Now we need to start thinking about what people might need, what your company can do, and what it needs to change.


Understand The Future; Know what changes are coming to the world.


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For every door that closed, new positive and creative opportunities have emerged.




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