I wouldn’t consider myself a trend-follower. As much as I think drop-crotch trousers look cool on my teenage son, I’m not about to get myself a pair (I’m sure it wasn’t that long ago I was wearing them as a teenager myself?!) And while wallpaper feature walls may be in-vogue, they’re definitely not making an appearance in my house. But I am a big believer in being aware of what the current trends are in business. It’s important to know what it is that’s important to your customer RIGHT NOW. What are they looking for in a business? What is influencing them? What values are they living by and considering when shopping around for products or services?
There’s a website called trendwatching.com that I follow. Its business is to discover, define and then declare what trends are happening – or about to happen – and it always makes for a good read. Not only is it interesting to see what is influencing the behaviour of consumers, but it’s also a good starting point for some brainstorming, to reevaluate what we know about business, the future of business and what we need to do to get ahead. Have a look at these trends and then think about what you can do with them. Can they influence or shape your company’s vision or goals? Will they lead to a new business concept, venture or brand? Could it give you an idea of a new product, service or experience? Or will it help with your advertising, marketing and PR, by showing your consumers that you get it and you’re excited by what they’re excited about…
Trendwatching.com have regular trend briefings, but recently released their massive yearly one – all 109 pages of it! A few trends in particular stood out for me, so I wanted to share them with you Business Coaching followers in the hope that they’ll be helpful to you. (It’s a long read though, so make sure you have some time up your sleeve and a comfortable chair!)…
But first, no matter what area of business you are in, we’re all dealing with customers who want the same thing. Well, customers all want six things, from each product or service they buy…
One: We’re status seekers, which is basically about ego. We’re all looking for products or services that will differentiate us from others, and make us look better than others. Make sure your offering does that!
Two: There is an abundance in choice for every product out there – so consumers are determined more than ever to make the right choice, every time. There’s no “settling” for today’s customers. Don’t underestimate any customer.
Three: All businesses should be doing good business, in that consumers expect businesses to act ethically and sustainably in every way. Do you do good? And do you tell your customers that you do good? It’s not the kiwi way to highlight our good deeds, but in business you kind of have to…
Four: Consumers are so well informed and have a long list of high expectations for every offering. They expect quality… don’t offer anything less.
Five: The tide has turned and the more well-off consumers are less focused on owing shiny status symbols. Instead, they’re interested in exciting experiences – doing rather than owning.
Six: Consumers are obsessed with mobile technology and the associated superpowers. They want, drum roll please: instant information, total choice, complete control, personalization and relevance, and full transparency. Can your business offer a few, if not all, of these things?
And now into my pick of 2013’s biggest trends:
NOUVEAU BRICHE: Think outside our two islands – it’s time to start catering to the new globe-trotters, the intrepid travelers. Vogue Paris created a bi-annual written entirely in Mandarin for Chinese visiting Paris; NZ Tourism created a Halal guide for Muslim travelers; Florida’s Disney World hired 54 Portuguese-speaking super greeters. COULD YOU: create a new version of your product targeted at a consumer from China, India, Turkey etc?
BOTTOM OF THE DEVELOPED PYRAMID: There are many Kiwi consumers who may not be affluent but who aren’t willing to sacrifice quality – think of struggling uni students wearing Karen Walker. Win these BODPers over now, and they’ll be with you forever – including when they are (possibly) at the top of the pyramid. Speaking of Karen Walker, she ticked this box when she created a lower-priced diffusion range called Hi There. COULD YOU: Reinvent, repackage, reshape your product or service for a BODPer? Lower price? Smaller packets? An economy option?
GAMEPROVEMENT: Consumers want more fun in their life – and they’re competitive. Think of all those boot-campers out there, The Biggest Lose, or even that bloody Candy Crush and Farmville! COULD YOU? Create a competitive game around your product? Get users to unlock points or goals or special offers at certain road marks? Incentivise using rewards they can redeem in the real world?
ED-YOU: Forget going back to the classroom – consumers are willing to go elsewhere to learn about things they might have only dreamed about. Becoming skilled in new areas is huge – think of consumers looking to get better at their hobbies (ie blog-writing, photography, cooking, garden design, yoga). They don’t care about credits or certification (yet) – they just want to get a bit more professional at their hobby. COULD YOU? Offer up an expert to do some lessons? Ladies nights for a local mechanic? How to decorate a kids’ birthday cake for a small kitchen shop? Build your own outdoor table lessons by a timber manufacturer? You don’t need a classroom: your workplace, Skype, webinars – anything will do.
ACCESSIP: We all know what it’s like to try a new hobby, buy all the equipment, then forever avoid looking at the spot where it’s stored, gathering dust and reminding you of your failure. Or something that you know you’ll only use once so can’t justify buying it. Accessip is about leasing out equipment to offer consumers ultra-flexibility. Overseas it’s happening with everything from sports equipment (those SUP boards!) bikes, smartphones and even BMW electric cars! COULD YOU? Hire any of your products out, rather than simply selling them? Offer rent or pay-per-use?
MAXIMIZED MOMENTS: Mix and match experiences to provide a mega-perience (sorry, getting a bit caught up with these crazy names!). Time is short for consumers – they want to cram as much as possible into every moment. What if you can combine experiences? Love the movies? Love a good spa? What about hot-tub cinema? Sorry, it’s already been done, in London. In Finland they have a four-course meal… 80m underground. In New York they have Manicube – a 15-minute manicure in your office cubicle. The key is to remember that “more” shouldn’t replace “good” – both should be good. COULD YOU? Combine you products or services into an amazing experience? Mix your product or experience with that of another business for a mind-blowing-time?
UNCRAMMED: Such busy lives, consumers also crave an off-switch. Time out. For some it’s not FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), it’s JOMO (Joy of Missing Out). It’s like dodging that friend’s dinner party for a quiet night at home on the couch. It’s finding an unexpected place of tranquility. COULD YOU? Rescue your consumers from the bustle and chaos of life for a few minutes? Give them something that delivers them that Zen-like feeling – even if it’s only for ten minutes? Free coffee? Magazines and a comfortable chair?
PRESUMERS: Get your consumers involved on a product before you launch. They’ll feel included, special, valued, listened to and flattered (think back to the status seeking – this will do it!) Ask them what they think of a new product, ask for ideas, improvements, input. COULD YOU? Course you could! Get yourself a research panel made up of current fans and you’ll reap the rewards: free input from people who are passionate about your product, who will buy it and who will help spread the word when it’s finished (it’s a great thing for them to show off on their Facebook page) and who will BUY it!
MADE HERE (STILL): People are still big on locally made products. Do you make your offering here? Would you consider it? How would your product be different if you made it at home? What innovations could you introduce? COULD YOU: Celebrate what you do make locally – shout about it with campaigns, content, apps and events.
MADE FOR ONE: Consumers want truly unique, individualized products – from homeware, clothes, toys and more. We’ll see a lot of that as 3D printing grows. COULD YOU: Offer individualised products, a chance to co-create?
TOUGH LOVE: This is a big ask. It’s about asking, no – demanding more from your consumers. Get them to be involved, get them to do good htings. But you need to be sincere and you need to be transparent about your role in all of it. COULD YOU: Get them to contribute to their community – a clean up day, perhaps? Get them to sign up for a meaningful charity or social responsibility program?
AUTO-ME: All the information we gather on our customers should be used to show them we know them – and we care about them. Personalised, bespoke products always feel more relevant and special – and so do personalized, bespoke services. For example, Accor randomly identifies loyalty program members staying at one of their hotels then presents them with a surprise gift, based on their interests (which they find via social media); gifts have included spa trips, sports game tickets and fishing trips. British Airways are developing a ‘Know Me’ program, where Google Images sources photos of their VIP passengers so staff can greet them personally. COULD YOU: Personalise your retail experience, customer service and after-sales service somehow?
SURFACE RETAIL: Where etail is retail is etail. Online meets offline, smartphones meet QR codes, and consumers get virtual baskets and home delivery options. Need some examples? British etailer Made.com has a showroom displaying its most popular items. As well as full-size items, they also have miniature 3D-printed models with QR codes that shoppers can scan for more info. Mexican supermarket chain Superama have kiosks in shopping centres that have photos of groceries alongside QR codes – consumers simply scan to shop. No traipsing up and down aisles for them. Similarly, Peapod.com in America do the same thing – but their virtual stores are at train stations. A good example of cramming in more to your life! Chinese supermarket Yihaodian has a kiosk at the Great Wall! Supermarkets aside, Viralica Bee in Chile enables consumers to access discounts by scanning QR codes at certain merchants, then posting to social media – once it’s tweeted or posted to their Facebook wall, they automatically unlock a reward which is shown on their phone screen to use then and there. COULD YOU? Make shopping for your customers easier with a QR code? Could you downsize your retail space and do the same thing in smaller but smarter positions?
I hope they got you thinking! If you want to get on board the trend train and need a hand deciphering what that means for you, Business Changing can help via our business coaching work out how you can apply “trends” into your business and life! Flick me an email at email@example.com