The one thing I think a lot of people miss when creating their strategy/business model for a company they’re working for is in consumer trends. The big thing in today’s culture is how we communicate through social media. Theres constant buzz on how close personal relationships have gone between the consumer and brand. Every marketer wants to get closer to their consumer, they want to engage, listen and respond in a personable manner. This in turn builds trust and something that wasn’t there before. Through social media channels, everything is instant and public, there for the world to see, admire or critisize. It looks better when problems are taken care of publicly in a timely manner, as well as in private. Word of mouth is a great means of building brand trust as well. All of this is a great way to to market, but theres one thing highly overlooked that can possibly be even more helpful to what you already have going on. This would be consumer trends.
To some, consumer trends may just be made-up words with nonsense meaning. To others it can very useful. If you don’t know what they are, consumer trends are future (and present) insights into what people are and will be doing today, tomorrow, next month, next year. There are companies dedicated to analyzing the trends of today and what might be going on in the future. If you can get a jump on what the next trends may be, you can start preparing yourself. Even looking at reports of past and current trends can be very useful.
A great place to get started is TrendWatching. Here you can get a free monthly overview of a trend that is going on. Before the beginning of the year, the company puts out a report of the forecast future trends of next year and the meaning behind them. The free reports are somewhat minimal. They can be helpful nonetheless, but don’t give you as much data and information as the paid version. For a complete in depth report, look at paying $1600 for a year. If you’re a good-sized company, its a well worth investment to look into. If you want to meet eye to eye with your consumers, its best to know what they like to do, how they act, respond, think, eat and even sleep. Every little detail can be important and useful in your strategic planning. Trends are currently evolving, whats here today is gone tomorrow, it can be hard sometimes to keep an eye on whats going on all the time. Why not go to a company that has all five senses dedicated to reporting on whats trending.
How do these companies record and report on these trends? They use trend spotters of course! TrendWatching for example has hundreds of people all over the world in major metropolitan areas reporting back to them on what they see. Can you be a part of this research, of course you can. Happy Spotting is the website where you can register to become a trend spotter. Remember though, its not something to joke around about, sure, you can have fun doing it, but make sure your reports are thorough and concise. As you report, you earn points, which can then be redeemed for rewards.
There are many other reports out there as well you can use to find out more about consumer trends going on. Many ad agencies have their own in house reports done. JWT has a really great report you can check out. Check out their 10 Trends for 2011 in 2 minutes video here:
Other sources to check out are TrendHunters or TrendsSpotting.
The next time you are trying to study the consumer, your followers, do a little research first. Use the resources available to you. Consumer reports can be a lot more helpful then you might think. Sure, there a lot of made up words found in these reports, like urbanomics, wellthy, social-lites and twinsumers, but once you read the actual report these terms will make more sense to you. So go out there and learn everything you can about those you want to build better relationships with.