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The explosive rise of the coaching culture

Last week, the Dutch news site AD reported that there are currently 2.5 times more coaches than 10 years ago. The number of lifestyle coaches has even multiplied by 13 (!). Why is there such a growing need for people to help us direct our lives?

One explanation that we provide through our trends is the growing need for guidance. Traditionally, people were surrounded by close-knit communities (often in smaller towns and villages) and generally were part of a church that answered the big questions of life for us and gave us a neat set of morals to follow. But in recent decades, due to rising welfare, globalization, and individualization, people have increasingly broken free from the social and ideological restraints that once guided us. In exchange, we received an ocean of freedom to lead our lives in any way we desire.

The flipside of this freedom, however, is that we ourselves – and no one else – stand in the way of our happiness and success, but also our sadness and our failure. It’s our personal choices and efforts that decide whether we win or lose in life.

When the stakes are high and the choices are overwhelming, people look for guidance outside themselves. Both to receive insight, but also simply to place a little responsibility in an external entity and reduce pressure on themselves. In this context, it is not so strange to see that in our modern society, the role of the priest is replaced by the life coach, and the role of a close friend by a psychologist.

Even just helping people set priorities in their life can guide them towards what they find important and provide more peace of mind. Like this commercial by Thai life insurance company. So, how can you guide your customers and employees in life?

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Douwe Knijff

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Kim Pillen


Before Kim Pillen started as a trend consultant at TrendsActive, she worked for four years as a creative strategist at Dept. For brands such as Philips,, Beiersdorf, JBL, and the Consumers’ Association, she built (online) campaign, brand, and social media strategies. After four years, she decided that she wanted to better understand people and society in order to advise brands more effectively. That’s how she ended up at TrendsActive. Here, she can do what she loves most: digging into people’s needs and then working with brands to see how and where they can be relevant and meaningful.

Douwe Knijff


Douwe is fascinated by how people work. With a background in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (Bachelor) and Psychology (Master) and an analytical mind he tries figure out how societal shifts manifest themselves through social culture and human behaviour.

Aljan De Boer

Keynote speaker

Aljan has been widely recognized as an inspiring professional speaker on the critical trends that will shape society in the decades to come. He works as the Head of Inspiration at TrendsActive, a trend consultancy from the Netherlands using social science to human-proof business decision for brands like

  • Disney
  • Vodafone
  • Hugo Boss
  • ASR
  • Rabobank

Next to his role at TrendsActive he is the Community Director at the Institute for Real Growth where he inspires and connects a global community of +400 CMOs.  

He has been on the board of the Dutch Platform of Innovative Marketing for almost a decade. Regular speaker and moderator for the Dutch Marketing Awards and 3 times winner of the best of MIE. 

Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist

Kees his purpose is to help ambitious leaders and brands to human-proof their business. In 2003 he founded TrendsActive, a trend consultancy enabling brands to become more human centric.

Kees consults global brands like

  • Disney
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • Asics
  • Discovery Channel
  • Swiss Life
  • Vodafone

and many more.

Next to being the founder of TrendsActive, he is also initiator of the first academic trend master for executives at the University of Utrecht and is initiator of various trend studies and white papers on subjects like trust, meaning, visual culture & generations.


Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist

Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist