If you do not identify trends, you do not change. Change is the only real constant in our world. Humanity keeps evolving and this creates trends. However, change also brings some risks, not just opportunities.
Companies have to be proactive. When a new product is launched, it has to meet modern demands. In order to achieve this, innovation and research are needed.
Nowadays, marketers and business owners keep talking about trends. The problem is that few people understand what a trend is. At the same time, identifying a trend that is relevant for the business is not as simple as you might think.
What Is A Trend?
We can define the trend as being an assumed future development that is going to change something or have a lasting effect on something.
For instance, take a look at these graphic design and marketing trends. These are examples of trends that are relevant right now for the marketing industry and graphic design. An older example was what happened in the sixties. Back then, fatty food was a huge part of life. The trend was an increase in the consumption of fatty foods. Nowadays, this changed and we move towards much healthier eating.
Trends are vital in all industries because their effects are far-reaching. Since I mentioned nutritional trends, a change like the one highlighted causes huge changes right now in the catering, retail, leisure, agricultural and tourism sectors.
An Important Thing To Know About Trend Research
We cannot go to the future to know what will happen. It is impossible to predict how the world will look like in 20 years. All that we say about this topic is just a series of guesses.
The exact same thing applies to trends. We can identify trends but there is NEVER a certainty that what we identify will happen or keep happening. This is why trend management is a huge part of the job. We identify some trends and we need to monitor them to see if they are still relevant, especially when a marketing campaign is launched.
This is quite simple. In trend research, systematics is all about analyzing:
- Megatrends — These are really long-term developments that cover several decades.
- Settings — Business environment changes have immediate and indirect impacts. Environment analysis involves looking at users, customers, other companies, other industries, administration, and so on.
Whenever we perform trend research, we need to know:
- The impact of the megatrends on the industry, business, and company.
- Major changes that will appear.
- The impact of the megatrends on the business environment, including legislators and customers.
- Industry trends.
If you want to identify trends, you need to ask the correct questions. Answers are oftentimes a creative process that involves so much analytical thinking, creative thinking, experience, and knowledge.
There are basically 2 types of methodology used in trends research: primary and secondary. Primary research uses:
- Interviews with suppliers, employees, users, customers, and so on.
- Interviews with experts.
- Delphi studies.
- Workshops held with stakeholders, experts, and others.
Secondary research uses the information that is available. This includes trend reports that are really common across all industries. They are used as sources to determine trends.
When you look for trends, you almost always identify many. They have to be processed in order to determine the likelihood that they will actually materialize. Simply put, you need structured results. This is why systemic processing is needed. This includes things like:
- Information collection
- Trends derivation
- Prioritizing relevant trends
- Trends assessment
- Trends clustering
All of this processing is really important because it helps make future and even current business decisions.
So How Do I Identify Relevant Trends?
Everything presented above can be a little too much if you do not understand the industry. The reason why I chose to highlight everything is that it shows that identifying relevant trends is not as easy as some people say. In fact, it is very complicated and involves a lot of work.
Fortunately for everyone, there are specialists that are already identifying the trends in every single industry. Their reports have to be taken into account but what specialists highlight is just what is very important for the majority of the industry.
What does this actually mean?
The best thing that you can do, unless you have people hired specifically for the purpose of identifying relevant trends, is to look at the specialists. Look at the trends they identified. Then, see if they are relevant for you.
As an example, if the trend in the fashion industry shows that people start to buy red shoes (obviously a very exaggerated example) and you sell dresses, it does not matter. It is not relevant for you. Are healthcare stocks going up but you are only interested in financial stocks? This is not relevant.
Only consider the industry trends that are connected with your business, your products, your services, and your brands. Then, after identifying them, see what you have to change, if you have to change something, of course.