The start of every year is littered with what industry experts and others foresee to be the biggest things to happen in the year. They cite trend upon trend and many brands use these as a barometer of their relevance and some even go on to execute those trends phenomenally. Then there are those who also climb on the bandwagon but don’t quite reach the desired destination. Why is that?
Everyone begins to crib their own version of the initially stellar idea, but is the idea the best thing said brand could have done? Maybe-and maybe not. I’d like to venture that trends especially in
tech, kill creativity.
Creativity is the ability to link thoughts in new ways, however what happens with trends is that many brands merely copy and paste an idea and assume it will garner the same impact. There is nothing wrong with observing consumer behaviour and the trading environment they present the Zeitgeist so that brands become creative in context, capitalising on the macro environment. It is when trends and accompanying case studies begin to be the end goal of all brands that the problems occur.
Trends will tell you about co-creation, conscious citizenship, mobile integration in retail and more, all accompanied by beautifully executed case studies and we go to our respective boardrooms and try to recreate the case study instead of understanding whether and how the trend can impact our specific business.
Self-check questions to ask when analysing consumer trends
Passing fad or game changer?
Is the current industry buzz word a real consumer behaviour driver or just the flavour of the month? There is usually enough data available for brands to be able to determine this.
Niche or mass?
Is the trend something that will have widespread impact on consumers, or is it actually for a niche group? Bear in mind that not all trends are opportunities for YOUR business.
Seth Godin brings a different view, saying that when you pay attention to the big trends, you’re playing a numbers game and treating the market as an amorphous mass of interchangeable parts. Thing is, that might not be what your market is.
Cool vs impact?
Finding new opportunities and executing them well are two different things. Be ready to self-assess whether the trend is just cool (and techies love cool) or cool with impact.
It’s also vital to consider that trends can’t be compartmentalised, they are linked and feed into each other. The ability to link trends is where the real value lies.
Digital strategist Greg Satell says that sometimes what we view as trends not even trends at all, but an increase in diversity the availability of more choices within the marketplace. He goes on to give some stellar advice, asking brands to rather look for problems to solve, instead of looking for predictions. Most importantly, he suggests that we should not focus on the trend, rather focus on the underlying value — look at the engine of the car not the body.