Love them or hate them, trends are an essential part of marketing any business and keeping you relevant to your customers. Whether or not you choose to follow a trend is up to you, but as a promo products professional, being aware of what’s hot in the industry as well as in the marketing world at large is integral to offering your clients the best experience possible.
But who decides what’s trending?
Well, it’s not as simple as it might seem. There’s not one single authority that determines the trends for everyone worldwide – instead, trends are predicted by market researchers and industry experts through a process called trend forecasting.
So what is trend forecasting?
Trend forecasting is the process of using market research and consumer data to craft predictions about consumers’ future buying habits and preferences. Trend forecasting is a type of quantitative forecasting, meaning that it’s based on tangible, concrete numbers from the past. Essentially, it’s not magic – there’s actual data to back it up.
There are two significant types of trend forecasting that help researchers decide what products and marketing services will be hot: long-term and short-term forecasting. Long-term forecasts, also called macro trends, look at the broader implications of societal trends that impact consumers’ daily lives. This type of trend analysis predicts prominent, overarching trends that affect the market overall and across multiple trend categories. Short-term forecasts, on the other hand, focus on specific time frames and provide an overview of customers’ potential habits for the next six months to one year. Short-term forecasts, also called seasonal forecasts, can provide more specific insight into trends and dive into more niche categories than long-term forecasting can.
Why is trend forecasting important?
Especially for the promotional products industry, understanding what products are hot now and what products will be in demand soon can help you better direct your time and resources to the solutions that your customers will be asking for. With this past year’s supply chain delays and shipping problems, having an eye on the future can help you stay flexible and offer hot products before your customers even know they’re on-trend.
Additionally, trend forecasting can help you avoid spending valuable resources on things that aren’t going to be successful with your audience. Having a good grasp on trends can help you save time and money by directing your energy to emerging opportunities and by increasing the likelihood that you will help your client find the perfect product for their brand.
Where can promo professionals get trend information?
Staying in touch with what’s going on in your industry is the easiest way to keep on top of what’s trending. Reading industry publications, being part of an association, attending webinars and educational opportunities, and participating in discussion groups are all great ways to get a feel for what trends are hot and upcoming in the promo world.
Here on the #SAGEBlog, we post a wrap-up of each month’s hottest products in SAGE Total Access. Reviewing what the top products were each month and comparing the months to each other can help give you an idea of what trends are emerging and which ones are beginning to slow down. You can read all our previous Top 25 blogs here.
How can promo professionals stay on top of trends?
Keeping up with what’s trending is just a piece of the pie. To really make the most of trend forecasting, you have to take the information and use it to your advantage. Try and react quickly where you can. Trends by nature are fleeting, and no one wants to be the last to hop on the bandwagon. Once you begin to recognize a new trend that aligns with your business and customers, start offering it to your clients as a potential option.
Additionally, make time to stay abreast with what’s happening in the industry. Don’t only utilize discussion boards and connections when you’re trying to identify a trend – make reading publications, interacting with colleagues, and taking advantage of learning opportunities a part of your daily or weekly routine.