Asko Ahokas is a trend analyst from Finland who has led a New York-based agency and consulting firm for 17 years. He is one of our ongoing columnists, helping to ensure that you’re on the right wave, at the right time.
It’s been a steady climb for Asko Ahokas to reach a point where he is analyzing and advising the retail world and beyond about trends from his New York-based office. With a journalistic background, he is a regular writer on trends and design for a range of international magazines. Before starting his own business, he worked with one of the leading art galleries in Europe and ran a design gallery focusing on young, emerging designers. He has consulted on award-winning international design projects and curated trend exhibitions for the gift and housewares industry. In his native Finland, Ahokas has also been collaborating with giftware and furniture associations for the past 12 years.
“The scope of my work has varied widely – from urban planning to consumer trends,” explains Ahokas. “At the moment for instance, I am mapping green values in North America, as well as analyzing the impact that 3D printing is having on the consumer market.”
Ahokas loves the diversity and the multifaceted nature of his work at Asko Ahokas Consulting, and he is fascinated by the many niches of his business, and society in general, to which it leads. Design, retail, manufacturing and even politics and current affairs – the scope of his work is far-reaching and leads to many unexpected areas of expertise, so he is always learning and embarking on new ventures. “I feel truly fortunate to be able to explore such variation in my field,” he says.
Ahokas’ client base is spread far and wide across the globe, so he travels frequently within Asia, Europe and North America, which always opens his eyes to new trends and ways of thinking. “Inspiration for me is basically everywhere,” he says. “I love the energy of big cities like New York, which is my home-base, but meeting new and interesting people from all corners of the globe is always inspirational.
“I’ve been always passionate about understanding the evolution of trends and how they will impact our lives, whether we are talking about home design, urban planning or social media,” he says. “I am also inspired by great design that elevates our everyday life.”
Asko Ahokas is always advising people involved in retail to remain connected to new trends. Keep your eyes and ears wide open. Absorb everything around you because these days, with the internet and social media, ideas and trends that are often born from current affairs develop and grow at lightning speed.
“The power of social media and the internet have provided an unprecedented challenge, as well as opportunity, to the market,” Ahokas says. “Product development must happen faster and needs to be authentic, functional and innovative. Otherwise online feedback can kill it even before it has hit all the store shelves.”
Asko Ahokas explains that the industry is at a unique crossroads where price, authenticity, safety and good, relevant design are all part of consumers’ decision making. “With the abundance of information available online and through social media, consumers are more aware, and more wary, than ever before,” he warns. “And they don’t hesitate to share any remorse they may feel if products aren’t right.”
Ahokas’ advice to any retailer is to get a solid education, do your homework, be passionate and see and experience as much as you can. “Develop your sensibilities and don’t be afraid of trusting your instincts. That makes your voice unique and authentic,” he says.
Ahokas’ approach to business and life is summed up in a simple philosophy: “You are always at the right place at the right time,” he says. “It’s the positive answer to a ‘condition’ that many people suffer from – FOMO, the Fear of Missing Out.” In other words, take a good firm grip on your own destiny and stop wondering about what other people are doing and what you might be missing out on.