As a small business owner, it’s sometimes hard to keep up with the latest trends and fashions, let alone look ahead to what might be hot next year.
Which is precisely why we like Trendwatching* so much.
While the company provide very detailed (and very expensive) reports for global brands on predicted trends in consumer behaviour, they also let us smaller businesses in on the major trends for the year ahead.
These parent mega-trends (their words, not ours!) are not a ‘must do’ for smaller businesses, but they do give an idea of what the big name brands might be aiming for...
Five Consumer Trends To Take Notice Of
If we, as business owners can emulate some of the techniques the big brands are using to ride these trends, and scale them down to suit our own products and services, it can only be a good thing.
1. Status Test
Like it or not, our behaviour as consumers is driven by status. If someone asks you “What sort of car do you drive?”, chances are you’ll give a brand name and model rather than a generic description like “A green truck”. And the more you’ve had to pay for that brand name vehicle, or wait for it to be customised to your specific requirements, the higher the status of that car.
So far, so good.
Status tests take that one stage further, with brands demanding more of consumers to achieve their desires. If you want something special from a brand, you have to work for it, not just pay for it. The surprising result is the more stringent the test, the more people love it because of the status it imbues. Social media allows all sorts of tests to be set, and the resulting ‘graduates’ easily contacted as an exclusive group with special offers, event info, etc.
2. Contextual Omnipresence
Bit of a mouthful, but it basically means putting your content into the right place at the right time. The trend is for providing what consumers want within a very specific range of circumstances. So, when Spanish telephone researchers developed a way of analysing when phone users are bored with over 80% accuracy, they then sent messages suggested content to read on Buzzfeed to entertain them. Right content, at the right time. Very neat.
3. Insider Trading
No, not the kind that’ll bring down banks and get you jailed, but giving consumers an insight into your own internal business culture. It can be highlighting the benefits you offer workers, or the ethical origins of your products. It can be more drastic too, such as outdoor clothing makers REI closing all their stores on Black Friday so staff could spend a (paid) day outdoors. This cost the company a lot of money. Yet, despite the move, Black Friday was one of the retailer’s highest-grossing days of the year (presumably due to online sales). You do the math(s).
4. Beneficial Intelligence
This is technology thinking ahead - what might you as a consumer need or want? Initially these solutions will be designed to save you time, money and hassle, but could, frankly, solve any little problem too. It’s a big trend to tackle if you’re low on funds, but the aim is to think of neat little digital ways to solve problems your customers might have. It could be as simple as being able to book a tire change while on the road, to a tool that tells home buyers how far each property is from a school, for example.
This trend is about reframing your product or service in a way that captures the imagination of consumers. The example Trendwatching gave was French airline Transavia, which created “Branded packets of chips, candy and cereal bars that doubled as tickets for a Transavia flight. The products were sold at participating Carrefour City shops, in Selecta vending machines at two Paris metro stations, and at an Mk2 cinema in Paris, and cost between eur 30 and eur 40.” The message was simple; buying an airline ticket could be as easy as buying some crisps. Be cheeky, clever, and as the article suggests, ‘playful’.
While some of these trends are probably for larger organisations, we’ll be looking hard at the ways we can improve our website design and functionality so you and your business website can be truly on trend in 2016.