milkbox trendspotting

How to Spot Trends and Ensure Your Business Stays Ahead of the Curve.

A big part of running your own successful business is spotting trends in the market you’re operating in before they happen. Accurately predicting market trends and developing new products and marketing strategies around these trends is one of the single most effective ways that you can give your business an edge over the competition.

Sounds easy, right? But, the catch: predicting market trends before everyone else is, well, tricky. But it’s not impossible, and if you’re discerning about which trends you follow and when you adopt them, you can learn how to make the zeitgeist work for you. Here are five tips to help you spot those game-changing trends before your competition does.

Identify the real value of trends

The most important thing to consider when you’re trying to predict lasting trends is whether a new craze is really a trend or a fad. A fad might look like a trend at first, but it’s short-term and passing, and investing money and resources into chasing a fad will only cost your business in the long run. A trend is permanent, and by embracing real trends early on, your business can reap the rewards for years.

When you’re weighing up whether new products, services, or marketing tactics are worth investing in, ask yourself whether they bring real value to customers and businesses. Are they making a difference in people’s lives, or fulfilling a need that wasn’t being met before? Are they about substance over style? 

If the answer is yes, this is a trend that may be here to stay.

Stay in the loop

There’s a reason why networking is touted as one of the most important skills in business, and it’s not just useful when it comes to hearing about new job opportunities. Networking is how you’ll hear about the products and lines that other businesses are working on, and when you start to see a pattern, this might indicate a trend is incoming.

Stay in the loop in your industry by networking, reading industry news, and attending conferences and events and you’ll find it’s much easier to track upcoming trends in your market.

Here are 8 tips on successful networking from Forbes magazine.

Only invest if it’s on-brand

Just because you’re convinced a trend is going to be big, it doesn’t mean it’s right for your business. The trick to knowing when to throw resources at a new movement and when to step back is in identifying those trends which fit with your existing brand and business strategy. At any given time, there are hundreds of business trends taking off, but some will be so far from your corner of the market they are all but irrelevant to you. The last thing you want is for consumers to think you’re just jumping aboard the next big thing.

Pay attention to your competitors

When in doubt, look to your competitors. If there’s a trend in your industry that nobody’s paying attention to, it’s possible you’re the first to see its value – but it’s also possible that your competitors have considered it and discarded it.

Think twice before going ‘all in’ in trends that none of your competitors are exploring. Likewise, if there’s a trend in your field that all of your competitors are adopting, this probably means there’s something to it.

Read more on the power of competitor analysis in eCommerce.

Look for widespread adoption

Finally, keep an eye out for trends that are cropping up across multiple fields and industries. As with your competitors, trends that are being adopted by various independent sectors most likely offer real, lasting value to customers and businesses. If the trend you’re thinking of has already gone mainstream, it’s a little late to become an early adopter, but you can still reap the benefits by adopting this technology or strategy in your own business now. You know what they say: it’s better late than never.

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