Are You Trending or Dead Ending?
By Laura Vandiver, TVG Vice President of Research and Strategic Insight
I recently attended a conference for market researchers, and a prominent theme emerged from the discussions: global trends. Data on trends is nothing new. But since the economic meltdown in 2009, emphasis on collecting and analyzing trends data often went by the wayside, as many businesses went into “preservation mode”—paying attention to customer service only, and trying to keep the clients they had. But one of the most important tasks a PR professional can do for their clients is to be aware of industry trends. Not only will keeping ahead of the trends make you a valuable asset to your client, but it can also keep you employed.
Consider the following statement by Tom Goodwin of Havas Media:
“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.”
Something interesting is happening, indeed! Consumer attitudes about where they can find a hotel or a taxi are changing. But it’s more than that- society is changing. These patterns of how people make decisions and use resources are the kinds of trends we want to access. Here’s why:
It gives meaning to data. Full disclosure: this is the researcher talking. The purpose of market research is to gather perceptions, attitudes and behaviors from target audiences. But once you have that data, you need to make sense of it. Having a broad understanding of global market trends can help give meaning to those data points, and fill in a broader narrative of human behavior.
It can prevent a crisis. Trend data can sometimes point out potential red flags for your clients. As a PR professional, your job is to spot these and prepare your client in case a crisis occurs. It’s always better to be proactive than reactive when it comes to crisis management. And, your client will thank you for keeping them out of hot water.
It can position your client as forward-thinking/a thought leader. Most of the time, PR professionals are doing things to make their clients look good. It’s what we do. By following global and industry trends, however, we can more easily position them as thought leaders. They most likely do not have time to do this- that’s why they hired us.
It can help with the innovation process. One of the biggest global trends at the moment is around food- specifically, healthy food. Maybe you’ve heard the term “gluten-free” a time or two. So what does a trend like that mean for a fast-food company? Well, it can mean that you do what you’ve always done while your customer base dwindles, or you can come up with some innovative solutions before you disappear. Knowing that a particular trend is gaining traction can help businesses plan for the future.
Knowledge is power, as they say. So now is the time to start putting an emphasis on trends again, and looking around the corner at what’s coming next. It’s the best way for you and your clients to survive and thrive.