How to read the future as a starting point for innovation (Antoinette van den Berg Interview)

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“See the trends as a running horse: it starts moving on a certain day and then accelerates. You want to jump on that horse, but the trick is how…”

I managed to catch up with future trends guru, Antoinette van den Berg, at the recent in-cosmetics Barcelona show who let me into the secret of how she reads future trends. It’s all about knowing how to grab opportunities for your business before it’s too late.

How do you work with companies looking for the next big trend?

Companies need to innovate, so we use the future as a starting point for innovation. Our goal is to know what the future is, but doing something with this knowledge is another thing. Sometimes we work with what is already there –such as using a production line that isn’t used any more and starting manufacture of an innovative product. That’s particularly important during tough economic times. We go into companies and help them look at their business in a fresh way.

Can you give examples of trends you have predicted that have come true?

A few years ago I predicted the trend for fluorescent nail polishes and that women would start wearing contrasting nail colours on different fingers. I was also showing the trend for skin colours in nail varnish which some companies didn’t want to believe would happen. Now you see them everywhere.

What has been the reaction to your prediction of the men’s cosmetic trend?

I was talking about men’s make-up two years ago and everyone said I was crazy! This is often the case with something that is difficult to understand. But if you look at history, men have always worn make-up. I have a google alert on new men’s cosmetic launches and it’s a hugely growing business. If you look at what the early adopters are doing, such as the trendy guys with their blogs, you see a lot of decoration out there already, on the nails and around the eyes.

Body decoration is also very interesting. Piercings and tattoos are totally normal today amongst men, so why not use a marker, liner or stick that you can put on and easily take away?

The men’s trend is here, right now. It’s how you interpret it that counts. Jump onto that running horse with the knowledge that the trend will happen.

Tell me about some of the trends you have just shown at in-cosmetics in Barcelona.

“Mystery mix” is a trend I’m seeing for beads combining colour and a pearl finish. For example, the bead is gold on the outside and when applied to the skin breaks open to reveal purple, and the two colours mix together.

Again using beads, “Colour Fun” is a trend which is very strong right now –bright primary and contrasting colours. I can see innovative applications, such as toothpastes with multi-coloured beads which could be aimed at young kids.“Cool to be Old” will be an important trend. Young is special, which is why the old want to be young. But it’s changing- there will be a time when a woman of 55 will have no problem with looking her age. I see in 10 years time the end of anti-ageing. So we must find new horses to jump on and use them to innovate and turn them into new ingredients and new products.

You can find out more about Antoinette's work here

Watch out for my next blog when I'll be bringing you a full review of the In-Cosmetics Show...