Sometimes you hear about a “trend” – in business, or consumer behaviour – and it seems like this abstract idea some academic in a sun-less office has dreamt up, a useless musing on life that is neither practical nor relevant to your business. But knowing what trends are happening out there can actually have an impact on your business – ignore a trend and you may miss a new revenue stream or new bunch of customers; embrace it and react in the right way and you may endear yourself to a new market or just reinforce to your clients why they like dealing with you.
I found a great tool this week on trendwatching.com – it helps you discern what the trend is, why it’s happening, what it means for your clients, and what it means for you. Basically, it’s a great help for getting your head around a trend and defining how it could work for your business.
First of all, you need to understand the trend. Figure out what deep consumer needs and desires the trend addresses: does it impact their status? Entertainment? Identity? Creativity? Social interaction? Self-improvement? Relevance? Then figure out the drivers of this change – why has the trend emerged; what’s changing? What shifts (long-term changes) or triggers (short-term) have made it happen? Think political, legal, environmental, social.
Now, get your head around what consumer expectations are emerging as a result of this change. What new needs, wants and expectations do consumers have? Look for the expectation gap in your industry and fill it. For example, Trendwatching point out shift away from strict formality which has led to people embracing more personal and irreverent brands rather than faceless, funless corporations. How do you speak to your consumers – formally or friendly? Trendwatching points out that consumers don’t think in silos, so don’t think that because your industry traditionally doesn’t do it that way doesn’t mean you shouldn’t – take the risk and consumers will respond enthusiastically. So, for example, banks used to be the epitome of that straight-laced, faceless corporate we were talking about before. Then they become a little more approachable: we met ASB’s Goldstein and Kiwibank introduced irreverence and quirk to their marketing with Sam Neill and a little green smart car – and consumers responded.
Then look for inspiration – how are other businesses applying this trend? Look for real-world examples, like the banks we just mentioned. Look close to home, look overseas. Keep a wide perspective, checking out companies of all scopes and styles. See how they’ve adapted and then see if you can appropriate those changes to work in your business.
Now it’s time to apply the trend. Identify what opportunities this trend has for your business. Innovation-wise, how could you make it work for you? Could you launch a whole new business venture or brand? Adapt a current product or service? Incorporate it into a new campaign, to show your customers that you ‘get it’? Discern which customer groups you could apply it to and what you’d have to change to do so then, finally, brainstorm some innovations and put them into play! If nothing else, reviewing what trends are happening gives you a reason to think laterally about your business and to take a step back and think, ‘What if…’
We do this process with our business coaching clients and it works real well! To print off Trendwatching’s awesome planner that takes you through this process step-by-step, head here (sorry for the long URL!): http://www.trendwatching.com/trends/pdf/2013-10%20CONSUMER%20TREND%20CANVAS.pdf?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=CONSUMER+TREND+CANVAS+en+New+Zealand&utm_content=CONSUMER+TREND+CANVAS+en+New+Zealand+Version+A+CID_9107f235e4e876a1f3eee47eb0942796&utm_source=Campaign%20Monitor&utm_term=download%20the%20pdf