Trends can be a huge hit or miss for small businesses. By definition, trends tend to be fleeting fads or changes in a given niche, but their popularity shouldn’t be ignored. Some trends last longer than others, and neglecting to participate could mean you’re leaving money on the table. But how do small businesses with small budgets jump on trends without endangering the financial health of their company? Here’s how you can successfully spot and utilize trends the smart way.

Know Where to Look

In some cases, by the time you’ve noticed a trend, it’s already too late to capitalize on them. This isn’t always true, especially since some trends have longer lifespans than others, but if you want to be among the first to discover these new opportunities, you need to know where to look. Where do trends in your industry come from? For a lot of people, the answer is influencers. These are the people not just discovering but creating trends, and their audiences are rabid for them. You should also look into comment sections and other online communities to see what your consumer base is talking about and what they wish they had. This is how you spot consumer needs, and those often form the trends that last.

Brand Relevance

Going after every big trend you spot can be tempting, but brand relevance plays a big role here. If you try to jump on a trend that doesn’t easily meld with your brand, you could set yourself up for disappointment. For example, when many people were forced to start working from home, sales for equipment like desk chairs and webcams boomed. There are many ways to pivot your product line offerings to trends, but if your consumer base doesn’t already go to you for those items, you might not be their first choice. Switching up products and services to meet trends can also require shifts throughout your business. You might need an updated shipping API, new equipment, or storage spaces.

Lifestyle Relevance

If you want to spot long-term trends, look for the ones directly impacting consumer lifestyles. These trends cater to a specific need instead of a want. When people incorporate these trends into their daily lives, they’ve noticed a positive impact and plan to continue for a long while.

Products from Competition

There are plenty of reasons to keep an eye on your competition, and spotting trends is one of them. Pick a handful of companies you would describe as your competitors and notice which trends they’re picking up. If they are implementing a trend somehow, it’s a good sign you should also consider it. Pursuing trends always comes with some risk, even if it’s small, but if successful competitors are pursuing them, you can add this data to your research notes.

Research Tools

Before you get too invested in implementing a trend, you must do thorough research. This means looking outside of the comment sections and online communities to online journals and other reports that actively track trends to see if the trend you’re looking at has been picked up. Many of the biggest trends can be spotted across industries, even those that seem to have little connecting them at first glance. You can track sales or searches for big retailers, check data on sites like Pinterest or Google Trends, and even websites that estimate webpage traffic. Look at how much money is being spent on this trend to solve a specific problem, then decide if your company could be the latest one to offer a solution.

Utilizing trends can be tricky, but they’re much easier to spot once you’ve had some practice. By finding and analyzing upcoming trends and how your company can utilize them, you can offer modern and exciting products and services to your customers.

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