William Higham

Consumer Strategist, Futurist, & Founder of the Next Big Thing
William Higham
  • Global authority on how to monetize emerging consumer behaviors
  • Serves as a strategic consultant with clients spanning every industry
  • Talks are full of fresh approaches to historically overcomplicated problems

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A global authority on Innovation and Strategy, Will predicts how future customers are going to behave, and recommends the best strategies clients should use to reach them.

He’s the man who championed Strictly Come Dancing to the BBC, warned the drinks industry about the New Sobriety, and saw the Wellbeing Consumer coming a mile off.

His engaging and inspiring talks leave audiences excited to face the future: armed with new, smarter ways to handle tomorrow’s consumers; and an arsenal of opportunities for innovation-led growth.

His keynote talks have inspired thousands globally: from conferences organised by the Financial Times and Harvard Business Review to corporate events for Walt Disney, Barclaycard, Marks and Spencer and Primark.

Will runs strategic consultancy Next Big Thing, helping clients from Amazon to HSBC, Sainsbury’s to MTV understand what their customers (and employees) will think, do, expect, demand and buy in future.

He wrote the first practical handbook for trend strategists: ‘The Next Big Thing: Forecasting Consumer Trends For Profit’ (Kogan Page, 2009), which has since been translated into five languages.

He’s been interviewed across media: BBC to Bloomberg TV, Fast Company to The Times. He presented a TV show for CNBC, and written for The Economist, Advertising Age and Huffington Post.

He’s taken part in academic programs like Cambridge University’s Open Innovation Forum and been a judge on prestigious panels such as WARC Innovation Awards.

Will made his name in the Music industry. Working at Sony, Virgin and Universal, he marketed artists from Michael Jackson to The Rolling Stones. His fascination with music fans led him to the Research industry, as a consumer trends consultant for brands from Levis to BT: and later as managing director of research company OnePoll, whose clients include Kelloggs and Findus.

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What Happens Next: 4 Practical Ways to Prepare for the Post-COVID Future

Will Higham: The Next Big Thing

Post-Covid Consumer Talk

When Money Can’t Buy You Engagement: 3 Ways to Grow & Inspire a Post-Covid Workforce

In a nutshell, the pandemic has changed the way people approach their work:

  • from demanding the much-talked about hybrid work models
  • to being prepared to resign in order to pursue their own business ideas. 

As a result, it’s never been more important to engage employees and contractors alike:

  • making sure the best talent arrives, stays and grows with you
  • working in a way that minimises friction within the HR function for the coming years

Audiences will leave the talk:

  • fully understanding the post-Covid employee; their needs and expectations 
  • equipped with ideas to attract and inspire employees over the next 2-5 years
  • able to create a much more future-proof HR strategy

Three ways to reach the Post-Covid Consumer. Many of your customers’ behaviours and attitudes changed during Covid. But which will they retain after lockdown ends? Will family, locality, community and safety still matter? And how might that impact your company? What threats and opportunities might it offer? 

In this inspiring talk, Will takes you on a journey into the future to show you the three macro trends that’ll drive what your customers will want and expect from your brand over the next two years. For each trend, he will:

1. Analyse what’s behind it and how it will manifest

2. Explore the implications for the individual audience’s specific industry

3. Identify the opportunities to:

  • Boost sales
  • Build customer loyalty
  • Acquire new customers

4 Great Ways to Get ‘Post-COVID-Ready’: Look to the future now. Thanks to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, many companies are having to spend most of their time dealing with the day to day. That can mean finding ways to integrate new working and sales practices, or just trying to juggle cash flow.

This topic will cover the four things any company can do to better prepare themselves for this post-COVID landscape:

  1. Track the Trends. The pandemic and subsequent lockdown have created several new behavioural trends. But which, if any, will continue once the pandemic is over? Observing trends around previous crises has enabled us to build a three-tier analytical system. Segmenting new behaviours into one of three typologies makes it much clearer how each is likely to develop post-crisis.
  2. Identify New Needs. Understanding customer needs enables companies to provide products and services to satisfy those needs. But creating such products takes time. Companies that can predict customers’ new needs ahead of their competitors not only give themselves time to properly develop them. It can also gain them a first-mover advantage.
  3. Become Change-Ready. The pandemic has impacted businesses in many ways. We believe its biggest impact might be acting as a wake-up call for CEOs to build more adaptability into their companies.
  4. Diversity What You Do. The pandemic highlighted the danger of maintaining just one supply region, revenue stream, or model. Companies that relied upon a single region to provide their materials were massively disrupted when access to that region was denied during the pandemic. Worse, many companies with a single sector or platform focus - airlines to cinemas - were devastated when access to that sector or platform ended.

Changing Fortunes: How you can make sense of and monetise consumer change. We are living in turbulent times. Few industries or parts of our lives are safe from change. But change offers possibilities as well as threats.

This topic takes you on a tour of emerging trends, drivers, and ideas shaping tomorrow’s customer, identifying implications and opportunities for individuals, and helping you anticipate and adapt your strategies to all these changes.

 You will also:

  • Learn about emerging global trends across sectors and the threats and opportunities they pose
  • Gain profound insight into new consumer drivers to help you create more informed strategies
  • Obtain practical action points that will immediately help ‘future proof’ your business

Future-Proof Your Business: Create products strategy to appeal to tomorrow’s Smart Consumer. Everything we create in business succeeds or fails due to consumer demand.

But how can you predict what that demand will be? This topic helps you take the guesswork out of planning by helping you identify the key needs, attitudes, and behaviours of tomorrow’s Smart Consumer.

You will also:

  • Gain practical insights into new customer needs that you can use straight away
  • Marketers will learn how to appeal to future consumers
  • CEOs will learn to better focus future company strategies
  • Product designers will gain insights into what consumers will want from their products

Customer Revolution: The rise of the new Smart Consumers and how to appeal to them. Once brands and advertisers drove the business agenda; today consumers are taking charge. Aware of their power, they seek greater control over their purchasing and media behaviours, and are subsequently developing a whole new set of attitudes, expectations, and needs.

This topic shows you how to anticipate and appeal to tomorrow’s new Smart Consumer. In this talk, you will:

  • Discover what will motivate future customers and how best to appeal to them
  • Gain insights into a new consumer type that will be here for years to come
  • Be given actionable consumer insights to implement into marketing, communications, and strategy plans

Customer-Driven Innovation: Develop business models to resonate with new Smart Consumer. Innovation is increasingly being driven not by company needs but by those of the consumer. As part of an Innovation program, this talk offers emerging foresights on future consumer needs. Audiences will learn about key trends and future thinking to inform and drive business innovation in a fast changing market.

You will also:

  • Learn how tomorrow’s Smart Consumers will think, feel, and behave
  • Gain the strategic clarity to develop a more effective market strategy
  • Prepare your services and products for the needs of the new Smart Consumer

Smart Staff: Adapting to the opportunities and threats of new employee attitudes. Employee attitudes to work, schedules, hierarchies, and rewards are changing. Tech change is driving individual empowerment. Traditional ways to attract or retain staff are failing. How can you please employees while improving bottom line?

This topic helps you understand how to get the best out of the new generation of ‘Smart Staff’. By the end of the day, you will:

  • Better understand the new needs and drivers of your employes
  • Gain a roadmap to improved workplace motivation and efficiency
  • Learn how to future-proof your hiring, retention, and HR policy to secure motivated employees

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