Keeping Pace with Market Trends
By Emma Rainville
Keeping pace with market trends is never easy. Every day you have a business to run, and any number of time-consuming tasks to carry out. Who has time to spend regularly doing a deep dive into trends?
It’s important to acknowledge that both the world and industries are always changing. To stay ahead of the curve and stop your competitors from dashing past you, you must be able to move with the times, particularly for long-term business planning.
Market trend analysis doesn’t need to be as scary as it sounds. It’s simply comparing industry data over an amount of time, aiming to recognize any consistent trends or results that can be used to map a business strategy aligned with your industry’s general direction.
Market trends tend to be heavily influenced by consumer habits and buying behaviors. By carrying out the following types of industry trend analysis, you’ll be able to determine moves that can have a direct, significant impact on your overall business performance.
Keeping Track of Industry Influencers/ Publications
As a busy business owner, being pressed for time is by no means unusual! I know I don’t have the time or bandwidth to read through every interesting leadership article within our respective industries, so how can I keep track of industry developments? I not only can, but it is also imperative that I do! Social media is a powerful tool to keep track of industry influencers, their points of view and ensure you remain part of the conversation. Make time for this.
Look through Industry Research & Trends Reports
To get a real picture of your industry trajectory and determine the direction it is heading in, you need to be reading up on the wealth of industry reports readily accessible to you. Quick searches that are industry-specific can keep you relevant. Understanding your internal data is essential. However, you will achieve a new level of mastery when you start to understand your industry’s data locally and globally, if applicable.
Make the Most of Digital and Analytics Tools to Assess Industry Behaviors
If you’re a bit of a numbers geek, you’ll love the wide variety of analytical tools and systems available to you. It’s great because you can let these tools do all the legwork to help you understand the bigger picture of your marketplace much more quickly.
Digital analytics can help you discover trends increasingly searched for by consumers online. For instance, Google Trends displays a long-term overview of niche trends. At the same time, Google’s Keyword Planner allows you to search the most popular keywords used by your target demographic online and the potential scale for using and bidding on them for your business as part of a digital advertising campaign.
Listen to Your Customers
It pays off to know what your customers know and think about your products. After all, without them, you wouldn’t have a business. Their collective opinion matters more than yours. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and talk with them to learn more about why they purchased your product, why they returned your product, and discover what more your business can offer to them.
Regularly QAing your existing customers will provide valuable insight into their thinking. People hear me talk all the time about my favorite Saturday evening pastime. I will, almost every Saturday, fill up my bathtub, grab a bottle of wine and my laptop, and listen to customer service call after call after call. The tile around my bathtub has dry-erase notes (sorry to my wonderful husband who cleans it all off every Sunday) that I take as I’m listening in my bubble bath, so I don’t forget any points. I’m looking for common phrases both good and bad that customers are using.
This analysis drives a great majority of my marketing decisions involving pivots and readjustments. There are two things that cause me to ignore split test end dates and just make a shift, and those are high chargeback rates and customer support calls.
Most successful businesses aren’t led by sheep; they innovate and break new ground in order to stand out from the other hundred mediocre companies that are all doing the same thing. However, observing your competitors can often give you a good look into their market positioning and whether they are reacting to what could be seen as an emerging trend. Competitor analysis doesn’t have to cost an enormous amount of money. By simply reviewing their website, customer reviews, and social media channels, it is possible to understand how you compare to your competitors.
Buy one of their products, get on their email list, call customer service and ask them a bunch of questions. There are so many free to low-cost options for observing the competition. Do your homework!