With online competition stronger than ever, one of the ways to differentiate your business is by hopping on, or better still, leading with market trends. In this article, we explore some of the ways to identify and capitalise on market trends in your business.

Identifying market trends

Identifying a trend before it becomes a trend sounds pretty daunting, particularly for small businesses. But by following some of the tips below, you can become an early trend adopter and uncover any missed opportunities.

1. Know your audience

Having your buyer personas to hand will help you acknowledge emerging market trends. If you truly understand your audience, their preferred ways to communicate, and the ways in which they interact with you online, this will help you to hone in on trends.

For example, is your audience more likely to access your website on a mobile or a desktop? Do they use Snapchat, YouTube or LinkedIn? Do they prefer to speak to a human, or do they want quick responses to their queries? By keeping this in mind, you can gain a more detailed view of the market trends on each customer touchpoint.

Knowing your audience also means an awareness of consumer behaviour. Consumer behaviour focuses on how people choose the products and services that they purchase, and looks at the psychology behind their decision-making.

Once you have an understanding of the journey that your customers take, you can map out the touchpoints in the process and compare this to your competitors, or others in similar industries. If there are gaps between what you’re currently doing, and how others do it, these gaps might highlight some missed market trends.

2. Keep your finger on the pulse

In most industries, there are thought leaders, publications, research papers, influencers, conferences and more. The easiest way to do keep up to date with it all is to follow your thought leaders and industry giants on social media (think Twitter and LinkedIn) to discover their insights. Setting up Google Alerts for your industry, related keywords and innovations can also help you by sending you an email alert every time your keywords are mentioned in the news, in blogs or published research papers.

Not only that, but it’s also important to understand the global online landscape. An example of this is Google forecasting that more than half of searches will be done by voice search by 2021. If much of your acquisition and traffic generation strategy relies on search engines, think about how you can get your website and future content strategy ready to leverage this, before your competitors do and better still, before it happens.

3. Watch your competitor’s behaviour

While ideally you want to be ahead of the pack, knowing what your competitors are doing can help you take advantage of emerging trends. If one or more of your competitors is suddenly making moves on a new social channel, it’s important to identify this quickly, and to consider whether or not your business should be adopting a new social channel, too.

Beyond acquisition, market trends are also applicable to building customer retention and brand loyalty. Think about how your competitors keep their customers engaged. Is it with webinars, events, referral schemes or social media? Then drill down into the details of each of these to uncover competitor and market trends.

Capitalising on market trends

Once you’ve identified market trends, it’s important to understand how to leverage these and capitalise on trends within your business.

1. Validate your hunches

OK, you’ve identified a potential trend. The first step is to validate this, and there are a few online tools to support you in doing so.

Google Trends will show you the search volume over time for a specific keyword or key term – you can look up public figures, product ideas, questions and more to gauge the interest over time. Trendhunter is the ‘world’s #1 largest, most powerful trend platform’ and uses more than 250,000 ‘hunters’ to gauge the latest trends in a range of categories including art, fashion, tech, luxury and culture.

2. Is it short-term or long-term?

The next step is to think about whether this is a short-term or a long-term market trend. Market trends can be very fickle, and you can gauge the level of effort, investment and resources needed in capitalising on your newfound market trend by understanding how long it will last for. That doesn’t mean to say that a short-term campaign can’t turn into a long-term one, but it’s important to have an initial plan for your market-trend adoption.

3. Ask for feedback

So many businesses are terrified of asking their customers for feedback, but ultimately no one knows your customer preferences as well as they do. If you’re thinking of trying something new, don’t be afraid to ask the question. Asking customers prior to any time or resource investment is the perfect time to understand whether or not it will resonate with them or make any tangible difference to their experience. And just because your biggest competitor has just started a YouTube channel doesn’t always mean that you should, too.

2020 market trends

If you’re still at a loss of where to start, here are some market trends applicable to most businesses. Don’t forget that market trends also include the use of technology and automation, so they’re not always customer-facing:

  • Use of TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube
  • Encouraging user-generated content (UGC)
  • Engaging with influencers
  • Using 24/7 live chat for customer services support
  • Putting the customer experience first, and competing on CX over price
  • Conversational marketing
  • Insight and data-led marketing
  • Leading with video content on social channels
  • Optimising your website and content for voice search
  • Adoption of Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality (AI, AR and VR)

By keeping your finger on the pulse, understanding your competitor activity and keeping an eye on global, technology and industry trends, you can effectively identify and capitalise on market trends in your business.