Innovation and enterprise blog

21 August 2013

Trendspotting in a Nutshell for Innovators to Laggards

A few weeks ago I attended a Business & IP Centre workshop by Cate Trotter of Insider Trends on ‘Spotting Trends and Opportunities’ during our ‘Cooking up Success’ series of events.

It was obvious from the beginning that the attendees were really on the cutting edge of the food business. During the icebreaker an attendee’s insight was that ‘food is trendy now and we want to be a slice of it!’

Cate helped us identify techniques for trendspotting as an essential strategic process that helps organisations and individuals anticipate change, plan more effectively, introduce more successful initiatives and spot niches in the market. Doing this means a business can focus on what to do next, make better decisions quickly which saves a lot of energy and money in the long run. 

Cate started by showing us a clip of a single person dancing at a festival but slowly…gradually…one by one… the dancer was joined by other people to form a mass gathering of something that they all enjoyed.  It was obvious from the clip that there may have been persons who didn’t want to participate or who may have needed that extra push or help to take part. 

Trend curve

Based on Rogers, E. (1962) Diffusion of innovations. Free Press, London, NY, USA. Source: Wikimedia

The moral of the story – trends takes a bit of passion from an innovator for it to move through the ‘Roger’s Innovation Curve’ from an innovator to laggards, gathering impetus to the mainstream where even the laggards eventually come on board. 

 For the food business we discussed innovators and early adopters who would go to the most obscure places to eat and sample new trends. Mostly, these persons are connectors and like to keep at the cutting edge of the industry and would attend foodie events from their social network or in their local area.  Cate reinforced that if you have your business cap on, you would use these experiences to gather information by observing, talking to people, brainstorming new initiatives and conduct informal market research for your next business idea or spotting the trend.  

Two practical exercises used were:

  •  The use of Google Trends to find out what people are taking about or what is ‘common knowledge’, for example cupcakes have far more hits than dosas
  • How to use trade and consumer magazines to find out what those ‘in the know’ are writing and talking about. Have a look at our popular Food Industry guide for resources available from us in the Centre.                    

Here are some tips for trends and opportunities spotting:

  • Know why you are spotting trends – the clearer you can be on what idea you’re looking for, the easier it will be to find it
  • Observe – trendspotting begins with an in-depth look at the various areas of influence such as new and old media, research, networking, scoping, everyday observations and problems highlighted
  • Connect the dots – after gathering the nuggets of information, make sense of it by connecting the dots with tags like Delicious, Freemind, Evernote or even Post-it-Notes on a wall or whiteboard.
  • Assess – investigate trends to assess the level of opportunity inherent in tools such as Google Trends & Keywords and Facebook Ads, which has how many people are interested.  Work out where they are in the Innovation Curve.
  • Ideate – Produce ideas that tap into the trend that you deem to have the most potential.  Identify and engage with the target group with the right balance of effort and reward that can help you have a more thorough understanding of the level of potential in each idea.
  • Test – Get feedback from the real world! Keep looking at your sales data, web analytics, press coverage for traction, monitor your social media or basically, speak to your customers.

In conclusion, we were reminded that trendspotting is something that should be continuous and you should formalise the process every 12 months or so to make sure that you are aware of all opportunities or risks ahead and the best position to take advantage or avoid them.

Find out when the next Insider Trends workshop takes place.

Seema Rampersad on behalf of Business & IP Centre

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