The only thing we can be sure of is change. Nowadays, we’re facing changes at a pace that’s faster than ever before, thanks to all the technologies that keep progressing. The thing about change is that it brings both risks and opportunities. For a business, a change might be a risk if the market shifts and suddenly does not need the products/services it produces. However, a change can also bring many new opportunities for innovations and expansion.
If a company decides to be proactive, it can help shape and change the future by bringing products to the market that meet customers’ needs and are in tune with the latest trends and changes in the world. For that to happen, a business needs to identify all the current relevant trends and then be able to capitalize on that knowledge.
In this article, we will be talking all about how to identify relevant trends by doing trend research. We will be sharing essential tips and tricks, as well as some of our personal experiences.
What’s a Trend?
Let’s start with the basics. A trend is basically an assumed development in the future that is expected to have a lasting effect on something. It essentially represents current developments in their advanced stage.
Let’s take an example. In the 1960s, fatty foods were a signal that you had a good quality of life. However, now in 2022, healthy eating and proper nutrition through whole foods are more popular than ever before. Typically, trends in any industry tend to have long-lasting and far-reaching effects. If we take the nutritional example, we can safely say that it is impacting and causing changes in leisure, tourism, agriculture, and catering.
How to Manage Trends
Most trends tend to be multidimensional; you need to pay a ton of attention to them. Essentially, multidimensional means that many of the trends you don’t see in your industry at first glance are nevertheless relevant due to chain effects. Additionally, directions in one industry tend to have many different effects.
Knowing all that, we can say that you must pay special attention when dealing with trends, and that’s where the management of trends comes into play. It includes
- Identification of trends: “Which trends are likely to happen in the future? Which of them are relevant to you?”
- Analysis of the effects: Here, you have to make projections and scenarios of what changes might happen. “In which direction can a trend develop? What impact can this trend have?”
- Analysis of the implications: What will happen to your industry or your company as an effect of this trend? How can it impact you?
How to Do Trend Research and Identify Relevant Trends
The future can only be guessed. We cannot travel forward in time and find out what the future holds for us. In order to guess well, you have to rely on a solid foundation of expertise, and facts are vital. The best source for such characteristics and predictions of trends is to bring together and listen to as many expert opinions as possible.
If you want to be able to obtain a good foundation for the future with which you can work and develop innovations, then you need a systematic approach, some sort of a process and methodology. Let’s look at the approach we recommend.
Systematics for Identifying Trends
Systematics in trend research are not that difficult to understand. Systematics involve the intensive analyses of
- Megatrends: These are typically long-term developments that span over several decades and considerably affect all areas of human life, including the economy.
- Setting: Any change in the business environment can indirectly impact your own company. Analyzing the environment includes users, customers, customers of your customers, suppliers, neighboring industries, etc.
Additionally, when doing trend research, you need to find an answer to all of these questions:
- What impact do megatrends have on your business, company, and entire industry?
- What impact do megatrends have on your surrounding environment (customers, suppliers, etc.)?
- What significant changes will there be?
- What does that mean for your business and industry?
- What are the current trends in your industry?
Methodology for Identifying Trends
The initial part of identifying the trends in the questions is shown above. Finding answers to them is a creative process that requires a lot of information, knowledge, experience, and analytical and creative thinking. Methods that give you information on trends and their effect are divided into two: primary and secondary research.
Primary research is a first-hand approach to trends that use the following methods:
- Interviews with LEAD users, employees, customers, and suppliers
- Delphi studies
- Workshops with stakeholders and experts that are able to offer creative techniques and their expert opinions
- Expert interviews with representatives from both the business and science industries
On the other hand, secondary research uses information that is already available. There are a ton of trend reports for most industries, and they can be used as a source for determining future trends.
How to Process Trends
Answering the questions mentioned above will help you get trends, predictions for significant changes that might happen in the future, and fields of innovation. In order for those results to be useful, you need to apply a systematic approach to their processing. That means
- Collecting the information
- Deriving the trends
- Placing the trends into thematic clusters
- Assessing the trends: Relevance to your company, impact, timeframe
- Prioritizing trends
- Preparing trends for further processing
By following this kind of approach, you will know which trends will affect you the most, and so you will have a better idea of where to put your effort. That way, you will be able to make the best possible current and future business decisions.
Doing Trend Research is Key
It is vital for any entrepreneur to deal with what might happen in the future and identify what changes might occur and how they are likely to impact his or her business. That is why doing trend research is a must-do task that you should pay attention to. If you’re able to do it well, then it might be what turns your company into the next world changer, like Apple or Tesla.