Tom Palmaerts Spots Trends Observing Young People


Tom Palmaerts Spots Trends Observing Young People

To know how a new trend will have an impact on culture, you need to look at young people.


Summit Speaker Tom Palmaerts, Trendwolves

Tom Palmaerts is a trend watcher, future forecaster, and partner at Trendwolves, a trend, and a marketing agency with a focus on young consumers. He is a worldwide keynote speaker and trend consultant. Tom works for brands like Callebaut, Clariant, Coca-Cola, HP, Palm, PwC, Sony Music, Hello Bank, and BNP Paribas Fortis. 

Tom Palmaerts CMG Summit Speaker


These creatives, entrepreneurs, and vibrant youth are creating thrilling waves. Most of these thrills stay underground – at the edge of society – but some of them cause disruptions and will influence your business.”

Tom Palmaerts, Trendwatcher of the Year 2013/2014


Summit Guest Speaker, Tom Palmaerts is coming to the 2018 CMG International Summit, November 9 – 11 in Philadelphia, PA


What is the hottest/coolest place to be at right now and why is this spot so inspiring?

Two weeks ago I was visiting Maxime Willems. He has a food lab in a very little town in Belgium. This is a cool place to be right now. Ran Van Ongevalle (the best cocktail maker in the world) is experimenting there with new smells, technology to age rum, … There are startups creating a cheese with no milk, experiments with bacteria, … This place is not your traditional ‘cool place’, but it surprised and energized me.

I think the cool hubs don’t need to be in the megacities anymore. It’s the world of the Internet. But a more traditional answer is, I love Berlin. The rawness, the creativity, and the startups are very inspiring. The rent is still pretty low for a European city, and that allows more experiments for retail, hospitality, and art centers.

The city that surprised me the most this past year is Dubai. I met incredibly talented youngsters from all over the world with the goal to make the world better. I also met a mermaid, but that’s another story.

In Hong Kong, a fashion designer took me to a new club called Ophelia designed by Ashley Sutton. That’s the hottest place in the world right now. It’s a nightlife destination for the sophisticated, serves intriguing cocktails, and has tantalizing entertainment. Hong Kong is a great place to escape to.  

I had the opportunity to work together in Jo’Burg and Athens with a community of marketers and creatives in the media and entertainment industry. Marketing is education there. Because of the high unemployment rates, people search for new ideas, values, and businesses. Brands don’t do traditional marketing but are helping people in their life, struggles, and job searches. These are interesting places to keep an eye on.

When you research for thrills/novelty what is the first thing you do?

Where do you start and is there a red line in your methodology of research?

I search for new stories. I’m not interested in the newest Pinterest or Instagram friendly shop. I want to know who the people are that are pushing the boundaries.

So the first thing I do is a search for the right people. Who is creating the stories of tomorrow? I love to get in contact with them and get a taste of their passion, drive, and maybe frustrations. It’s wonderful how many people are very open to a chat.

Places are a great start, but only if it’s the beginning of a great conversation. Cool has a few rules. Two of them are: ‘cool can only be seen by cool people’ and ‘cool is never a product, always a person’. So the people surrounding you are extremely important.

Thanks to my job I can travel a lot and meet talented creatives, rebels, and entrepreneurs. During my travels, most of the time, I only see the walls of hotel lobbies, conference halls, and companies. But my clients are very open to me. I get to know all their innovations, dreams, and frustrations. This way I can see the future unfolding, and also the differences on a cultural level.

I teach students and employees how to see the future. But to be honest, I can explain methods, but that’s doesn’t mean someone can grasp future opportunities. It’s a weird combination of methodology, an analytical mindset, dedication, numbers, and a lot of good, old intuition.

Summit Guest Speaker Tom Palmaerts

Experience Summit Guest Speaker, Tom Palmaerts first hand at our International Summit in November.


As a trend watcher of Youth Culture, what can other generations learn from today’s youth?

The great thing about youngsters is that they are young. What I mean is that for a 16-year-old boy, a 3-year-old service is really old. But for us older people (with a young mindset) 3 years is still new. At the moment we still are finding out how stuff works, it’s outdated for younger people or it’s already part of their routines. So if you want to know how a new trend will have an impact on culture, you need to look at young people.

Today youngsters are action-focused, realistic, ambitious, and individualistic. But they have the belief that you need others to get it done. The short attention, greatly networked, and entrepreneurial mindset of this new generation is an answer to the fast changing world that we live in.


What do you expect will be the greatest impact of youth on businesses in the next 5 years?

In 2030, 1 out of 3 youngsters worldwide will be Muslim. The young Chinese middle class is also growing. These two groups will have an enormous impact on business. We started with a research program on young female Muslims. We need to better understand this group and help them push things forward.

I also expect that in 5 years Generation Z will be more active in companies, and they will be soon responsible for changing mindsets at the office. More and more companies start to hire a small group of highly talented youngsters with the mission to rethink their business. It’s fun and impressive to do exercises with them.

Just how bright or how dark is our future?

I believe in a bright underground. At the edges of our society, we find bright ideas on the future. The future is not written yet and I like to work with people and companies that want to build the future.

For this mindset, I always need to look for bright opportunities, but with my feet on the dirty ground. The past was ugly, so will the future be…but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great drink.

Trendwolves Tom PalmaertsTom Palmaerts


In 2008 Tom Palmaerts was awarded “Youth trend specialist of the year” by the Dutch trend-watching platform Second Sight, as a result of his drive, originality & passion.

Since 2012 he teaches ‘scenario thinking’ and ‘trend watching’ at the University College Ghent.

In September 2013 Tom Palmaerts received the award Trendwatcher of The Year. The jury explained: “He is activating and can bring things in motion.”

In 2015 he published a book ‘Futures’ (Lannoo – Dutch) together with Herman Konings and Joeri Van den Bergh.


Experience Summit Guest Speaker, Tom Palmaerts first hand at our International Summit in November.



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