You notice that everyone is wearing pink breast cancer ribbons, or that all the coffee shops are selling free-trade organic coffee, or that obesity has become an epidemic, or that lines in the airport are longer than ever. Don't just notice – capitalize! Every trend represents a new opportunity for you, so keeping on top of trends should be a part of your business. By tracking business trends, you can:
- Create and tweak products and services to suit shifting tastes.
- Reach emerging markets before they're over saturated with offerings similar to yours.
- Create a marketing campaign that will resonate with new markets.
Ask Uncle SamIf there's one thing the government is good at, it's churning out information - much of which you can use to pinpoint social, economic and business trends.
U.S. Bureau of the Census conducts nearly 100 surveys that supplement the decennial census. State Economic Development Agencies include information on local business trends; for example, New Hampshire's Department of Economic Development Web site has a "Forecast of Summer Visitor Season" that discusses what tourists do in the state. The Census Bureau's AmericanFactFinder website offers the American Community Survey -- an ongoing survey that provides data about your community every year.
Go back to the futuristsFuturists are professionals who predict trends in various areas. Many of them have Web sites, newsletters, and books full of emerging trends they're tracking.
Keep up on industry newsNo matter what your business, there are trade magazines for your industry -- and your target market's industry, if you sell business-to-business products and services. Trades offer business profiles, industry news, and trends that affect their readers. Own a pizza joint? Try Pizza Today. Run a print shop? Modern Reprographics is for you. Target Marketing is the preferred read of marketing professionals. Trade magazines are sometimes offered gratis to people in their target industry because they're supported by advertisers.
Follow the business newsBusiness news magazines, business Web sites, and newspapers dedicated to business topics abound. Scan through these to read about business trends.
Track press releasesPress releases give you the news before it hits -- well, the news. New products, research studies, and business start-ups are typically announced to the media through press releases. And you don't have to be a member of the press to get your hands on releases -- just know the sites where the press goes to find them.
- Once you've identified an emerging market, figure out what products and services you can offer to it. For example, say you notice a growing French population in your area. If you own an ad agency, you can offer advertising that targets French speakers. If you own a materials handling company, investigate creating baguette management machines.
- Tweak your marketing to make your current offerings appealing to new markets you've uncovered.