In popular culture, people think of a trend as something that pops up, has a short period of success, and then disappears quickly. A trend in business, though, can be a vital clue to long-term customer behaviors, needs, and desires. Knowing what’s trending in your business can give you an insurmountable lead over any competition that ignores these signs that point to the future.
As a current or potential entrepreneur, it’s not enough for you to have an idea or product. You must market it in a way that excites people enough to make a purchase. There are a number of trends you need to understand and follow, depending on what it is you’re selling.
Here are a few examples of trends that illustrate what I’m talking about. Whether they are paths you should follow depends greatly on what kind of business you’re in. You’ll have to research trends for yourself, but the following should give you some things to think about.
Fewer advertising dollars are being spent on print ads while more are being spent on digital. That’s a trend that can’t be ignored. Did you notice it? Have you developed an advertising strategy that takes this trend into account?
One of the reasons digital is a big trend is that digital ads can be personalized to a degree that was impossible just 20 years ago. Just log on to some of the biggest players, such as Amazon or Facebook. Amazon’s algorithms look at your buying and search histories and then makes pretty accurate guesses as to what you’d probably be enticed to purchase. When I open Amazon, I’m greeted with “Hi, Paul,” Paul’s Amazon.com, recommendations for products, and a host of other personalized features. This has made Amazon one of, if not the, largest retailer on the planet.
Facebook also targets you through personalization. Using Facebook by liking posts, pages, and groups tells them what type of consumer you might be. This results in all those sponsored posts showing up in your feed. You didn’t think it was all random, did you?
In these examples, you can see that personalization has propelled their bottom lines in ways that print, and even broadcast, advertising can’t match.
Fitness and beauty
Though a perennial trend, its component parts have evolved and are still evolving. It piggybacks onto another trend – aging populations. Smart marketers recognize the trends and look for unique opportunities to exploit them.
In the past eating healthy and regular exercise defined the trend. But recently the focus has shifted to other areas: quality of life as we age, wellness, and feeling energetic. That’s spawned entire new industries and the need to convince people they need those industries’ products and services.
Today we don’t have just exercise clubs. We have full-service “spas” that allow members the chance to do more than use their equipment. They feature smoothie bars, massages, aroma therapy, and yoga. We don’t only go to our family physicians. We do online research on health issues, the latest cancer-fighting foods, and eating organics instead of processed foods. And looking and feeling younger is no longer about dyeing our hair and taking our vitamins. Now there are nutraceuticals, energy drinks, anti-aging creams, and even BOTOX® injections.
Successful operations recognized the trends, found new niches, and prospered.
Ever since the first Earth Day, environmentalism has caught on. As the trend picked up steam, so have environmentally friendly products. It’s no longer just about fluorocarbons and coal. It’s now a thousand other things, such as energy efficient appliances, electric cars, and non-fossil fuels.
Yes, this is an easily recognizable trend, but who has the capital to start an appliance factory, car factory or build solar panels? For the small entrepreneur, finding a niche in the trend that hasn’t already been exploited is the best option.
Entrepreneurs have found niches to exploit in the green movement. There’s the “grow your own” trend in vegetable gardening; zero waste packaging; stay-cations; green shopping bags. The possibilities are endless.
What’s the next big trend?
That I can’t tell you, though I’m investing in a number of areas I feel are promising. The point is, you’ll have to look for current or future trends and find ways to exploit them. Look at how other successful companies made it to the top. Then work hard to be the kind of entrepreneur your always dreamed of being.