Henry Mason is the Head of Research & Analysis at Trendwatching.com, an independent firm that researches consumer behavioral patterns and shares their stimulating findings with the world. Here, he tells I-S what it takes to be a leading consumer analyst and where Singapore is on the trendy map.

What does it take to be a consumer analyst? Do your studies in politics relate to the job?
Curiosity! And constant reading and watching, mixed with always asking “why?” Also, much of my political study revolved around trying to understand systems as well as people's motivations, both of which are relevant when looking at consumers and how their behavior is changing.

Name some trends you’ve observed that you found bizarre.
Because we always look to ground our trends in deep-rooted human needs and wants, I wouldn’t say I find any trends bizarre, even if sometimes the manifestations might be.

For example, we recently alerted to an organic butcher’s shop for dogs in Munich, Beute Fuchs, that offers custom-made, organic raw food diets for dogs featuring beef, lamb and chicken, as well as venison, duck and goose in season. But when in the context of our “tribefacturing” trend, which looks at the opportunities to truly tailor a product or service to a specific group’s needs, it makes perfect sense.

Another example we recently saw in Brazil: Cuelcinha is a shop that offers lingerie for men. Are they for men? Definitely not! But again, when looked at in light of our “maturalism” trend (about how mature, experienced and urban customers are looking for more exotic or risqué products to tell interesting status stories to other customers), it makes sense.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love seeing innovations spread. While a large part of my job is reading and thinking, in the end, trend watching isn't about theories or abstract concepts. We always try to identify trends that we think have the power to spread across markets or industries because they have a certain level of universal applicability.

What's the most life-changing thing you've ever done?
Speaking at a conference with Kofi Annan was pretty mind-blowing. Just to hear some of his stories was very humbling.

Where are all the trend-forward people?
We're seeing more trends emerging from Asia as experienced, urban “citysumers” become not just wealthier but more demanding, confident and willing to try new things. An example of such a trend is Korea’s Homeplus virtual subway shop that was replicated worldwide, including in Singapore’s SMRT subways, by Cold Storage.

What do you think of Singapore as a city that affects change?
Singapore is so well positioned at the heart of Asia. Yes, of course everyone's talking about the potential of China, but the Singaporean society is so open to trends, which puts it right at the forefront of both regional and global trends. And we love being in Singapore because of the optimism. While Europe and American wrestle with their problems, Singaporeans just keep on moving forward! That's why we're excited to be expanding here, so we can better develop our local network.

Is this your first time speaking at Social Media Week? What do you think of the initiative?
This is my first time at SMW. The whole event is a great demonstration of the “mass mingling” trend we first looked at a few years ago. Previously, people had suggested that socializing online would replace physical interaction, and we'd all be cooped up inside tending to our virtual avatars. Of course, what's actually happened is digital connections are fueling real-world meet-ups and events, like SMW. Social Media Week Singapore has some fantastic events lined up and I'm really looking forward to attending a few.

Henry Mason will be hosting the Keynote Address at Social Media Week on February 13. Visit our live blog.