As a small business it is important to be aware of the trends occurring within your market in order to assist you with your future business and marketing plans. Identifying the market trends that will impact on your business enables you to gain a competitive advantage by identifying future opportunities before your competitors, protect yourself against possible threats to your business and most importantly identify how you can better meet the needs of your customers now and in the future.
A trend is any significant change to your market (both positive and negative) that your business may need to respond to. For example, a trend in the food market may be a move to low GI products due to an increase in health consciousness amongst consumers. A trend in the accountancy market may be a move to clients wanting additional services such as management consultancy.
The impact of specific trends will vary considerably by market or industry so it is important to only identify the trends which will have an impact on your business performance in the future. Trends that may impact your business include changes to:
- Customer demographics eg. changes in age, marital status or income
- Customer needs eg. customer attitudes and/or behaviour eg. changes to customers purchasing habits
- Product or service features and benefits eg. innovations
- Market pricing eg. move to discounting or permanent price reductions
- Technology eg. internet usage, electronic ordering, global access or production improvements
- Economic factors eg. changes to exports, imports, employment, inflation, economic growth or interest rates
- Government regulations and policies eg. taxation laws, tender processes, pricing restrictions or change in government
- Global factors eg. terrorism, wars, free trade agreements or developments in Asia
- Social behaviour eg. changes to health, safety, environmental concerns, multiculturalism or workforce make-up
- Types of media people use eg. internet, pay TV, changes to readership and viewing patterns or the introduction of new media such as social networking websites
- Cyclical patterns (one industry impacting on another) eg. a change in housing demands impacting the construction market
When trying to identify the market trends that will impact on your business it is often helpful to look at overseas information and see which trends are occurring in an equivalent market to yours. Trends may occur a year or so ahead in an overseas country and knowing about them now enables you to plan for the future. If you don’t currently have access to overseas information, the internet is a great place to start your search.
Trends can also be identified by profiling your customer and looking at what their needs and wants are now and how they are likely to change. Conducting a survey with your existing customers that specifically covers these issues will enable you to start identifying your market trends.
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