William Higham

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Consumer Futurist & Trends Expert

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William started as a marketer in the music industry, then became a trends forecaster. He now focuses on the implications, opportunities and threats that a wide variety of trends present. William explores how cultural attitudes manifest in behaviour, focusing on phenomena like the Slow Movement, why consumers are seeking out more sustainable, ethical and authentic brands, and what businesses need to do to respond.


‘Behavioural futurist’, William Higham is a forecaster, writer and acknowledged authority on consumer and business trends. William provides insights into all types of cultural and commercial trends, and the areas that might influence them, from technology to media use to the economy.

William started his career in the music industry, first as a press officer and then marketing acts from The Rolling Stones to Smashing Pumpkins. He moved to a research consultancy working on high profile brands, before specialising in trends forecasting. William analyses how prevailing attitudes and cultural perceptions turn into patterns of behaviour, which manifest themselves as consumer needs. He applies this process across retail and services (for any and all demographic groups), and advises how companies can be at the forefront of culture.

In his book
The Next Big Thing: Spotting and Forecasting Consumer Trends for Profit, William shares the sociology behind trends, how to see them emerging and how to use them. By continually researching the latest shifts in consumer tastes, new products, innovations in marketing and communications, William builds a picture of the key issues an organisation will have to address in the coming years, or even decades. With these insights he offers strategic and tactical advice on reaching customers; what they expect, and what shifts in culture, technology, spending and attitudes mean.

In his talks, William analyses the changing nature of the relationship between consumers and businesses – the digitalisation of this relationship and the normalisation of certain trends across different socioeconomic groups. William looks into the connection between the public trust deficit and the growing need to engage in brand loyalty, shown by the way in which people seek out transparent, authentic and ethical narratives. Notably, the search for more meaningful brands matches an equal growing desire for purpose in the workplace. William discusses the changing nature of workplace culture, employee expectations and how to engage and retain millennial and Generation Z staff.

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JLA Speakers Breakfast - April 2013