Conceptional Services

Understand. Surprise. Enjoy.

Curious what we can do for you?

Download the brochure

Click here for our trendvideo

05/02/2019 Blog by Conceptional

From signals to signafication

The term ‘trend’ is often associated with concrete perceptions. For example a fashion style, a new product or a new gadget. Everyone has their own interpretation of trends. But what are trends actually and why is trend research so important? We at Conceptional would like to create clarity regarding this! In this article we explain how we see, view and use trends during our concept process.


A trend is a change process, it is the direction in which a phenomenon develops. This phenomenon has a large influence on the cultural, social or business environment in which it develops. Recognizing trends helps us to anticipate on what is new and upcoming in the world. This ensures that we have the opportunity to discover the underlying norms and values of the consumer. Awareness of this, enables us to respond to these needs by integrating them in the concepts of the future. Trend research is a crucial element at Conceptional for the shaping of new concepts.

Trends provide a direction and from this direction you should start doing things.

Tim Schuurman, Partner at DesignThinkers Group


At Conceptional we work with a, by ourselves developed, trend map model. This model divides trends into three different levels. The primary level of trends are the product trends’. These trends show the tangible developments, for example new products and/or services. Product trends last circa 1 to 5 years, after this the trends either dies down, or it develops into a consumer trends’. Consumer trends, the secondary level of trends, show the changing values and needs of the consumer, they last approximately 5 to 15 years. An example of a consumer trend is ‘convenience’ as life moves faster and faster due to technological developments. The consumer feels like more needs to be achieved in less time. Convenience can be the solution for this, and is therefore increasingly important to them. The tertiary level of trends are the global trends’, also known as societal trends, these can last 15 to 30 years or even longer. These trends influence many different aspects within a society and are large and complex. These are trends like sustainability and technologization.

Clustering of trends

At Conceptional, trend research starts by spotting signals. These can be new products, services or ideas. These signals are saved in the Conceptional database. Based on these selected signals, similarities are observed. Then, we look at similar underlying values and needs within these signals. This process is called clustering, a technique of observing, combining, identifying, discussing and deleting. During this process we move from signals to signification. The goal of clustering is finding the relationship between signals that lead to a change in demand of the consumer. Because… several signals with similar underlying values and needs can be the beginning of a new trend.

In trend research you don’t know upfront what you are looking for. You need to dive in with an open mind and start exploring.

Kelly McKnight, Head of Culture and Trends at Join the Dots

Trendresearch as an ingredient for concept development

Doing trend research well, is crucial for forming the concept process. Consumer trends (secondary level of trends) are key in this process. The values and needs of consumer trends are fundamental for developing concepts. By emphasizing on the consumer trends, the concept process creates opportunities to develop products and services that differentiate themselves in shape and design, but which are based on the same values and needs.

However, as an entrepreneur you have to keep in mind that you should not solely be trendy, but your concept should be ‘on trend’. The danger exists that the target group does not understand the concept, which has consequences for the sustainability of the concept.

Conceptional develops, optimizes and guides F&B concepts and areas from analysis up to implementation, this is done with both the head and the heart. We are constantly looking for new, innovative signals. As 2019 just started, we would like to look back on the signals that have made an impression on us. Below we have already highlighted one, Spyce in Boston. 

Spyce – “Culinary excellence, elevated by technology”

Spyce is a fast casual restaurant in Boston. The dishes served here are prepared by robots. The experience at Space is based upon the interaction with technology and qualitative food.

technologization – convenience – feasy needs

Understand factor:

The robotic kitchen of Spyce prepares dished in three minutes or less. You order at an electronic kiosk where you can choose vegetarian, vegan and gluten free bowls. The bowl can be adjusted to your personal taste with seven options. A screen shows your order, while the robotic kitchen prepares the dish. The woks are heated with induction and the regulation of temperature ensures a perfect preparation of each bowl. The inventors of Spyce are inspired by their own experiences as a student. Each dish should be tasty, healthy and affordable. You only pay $7,50 for a bowl at Spyce.


Surprise factor:

The inventors of Spyce knew that they needed culinary delights to bring this restaurant concept to life. Therefore they have partnered with Michelin star chef Daniel Boulud, who became the culinary director of Spyce. Currently Spyce only has one location, so for now you have to travel to Boston to try a dish from the robotic kitchen!


Curious about the other concepts? Watch our trend film with five inspiring signals from the past year.

Do you want to receive more information on F&B Trendwatching? Please contact us!

Curious what we can do for you?