Well if they can master the art of one-simple 6-letter word they would be well on their way to achieving their goals.
This seemingly innocuous or harmless word can be very harmful and quite damaging to a brand’s long-term success if not been followed properly and consistently.
The word is “trends”.
Each year following trends gets more complex, and 2012 will be no exception.
With the widespread adoption of new technologies allowing consumers and users to be connected at all times, marketers have new channels to consider, and higher expectations to meet.
The new channels and expectations are changing continuously. The consumer priorities change rapidly as well.
But even the consumer preferences seem to change rapidly but in the reality only few changes are there for long term.
The other ones are just fast adaptation fast decline movements.
The marketers are challenged to know what is a real trend or what is a FAD.
The definition of Trend is: 'long term' movement in a time series without calendar related and irregular effects, and is a reflection of the underlying level.
FAD’s show the same symptoms but they are not long term. So they are only waste of money.
A FAD is any form of behavior that develops among a large population and is collectively followed with enthusiasm for some period, generally as a result of the behavior's being perceived as novel in some way. A FAD is said to "catch on" when the number of people adopting it begins to increase rapidly. The behavior will normally fade quickly once the perception of novelty is gone.
For trends you need to follow them and develop strategies and tactics for effective utilization.
For FADs you need just to close your eyes and ears.
Spotting a trend is not enough. Marketers need powerful tools for gaining richer insight into customer’s experience in what’s trendy.
Really knowing what influences and drives customer behavior and makes it trendy, requires one walk a mile in the customer’s shoes. You can’t build empathy with your customers by only sitting behind the glass in a focus group, or putting them through long complex surveys. Research is a must but only a step in the miles of walk.
Good trend followers have the following attributes:
They are not brand managers, they are continuous brand builders. There is nothing to manage, as nothing is constant for them. They continuously build never manage.
They don’t only listen but they live the consumer. Empathy is a genuine strength of theirs. Thy do not follow but share experiences with customers.
They build relationships as a basis for creating greater value in the marketplace.
Brand builders engage with customers in real life!
They are driven to deeper action toward sharing the customer experience first hand across all touch points.
They must be effective communicators in order to ascertain the needs of the public, talk with them, and to be able to get their ideas across in a clear and concise manner.
They have to have good analyzing skills. Must perform a lot of data analysis in order to keep track of consumer data and to notice important and useful market trends.
They have to posse’s good research skills. It’s important to keep an eye on the market, consumer likes and dislikes, as well as successful marketing campaigns. Good research skills are important in keeping up-to-date with the most recent information. If you can not do it, have a good research agency who can do it for you..
They have to have good strategy skills. Good strategy skills help marketers turn a trend to an actionable insight.
So how to spot a trend and differentiate it from the FADs.
- Identify key influencers
The moment you spot the trend, try to identify the key influencers, the opinion leaders. If you find a strong group of real opinion leaders, who have a proven track of being key influencers, there’s a better chance the Trend is a real one an is here to stay. Be careful, some are obviously out promoting themselves so aren’t hard to find. But others, arguably some of the key influencers in any market, take time to find. Take the time to find them and see what are they saying.
- Monitor relevant mentions
All trends will not be relevant for your business. You can workout only the relevant ones. Have a social tracking company monitor the mentions in the social media. Check whether the mentions are relevant to your business and made by customers your brand is or will target.
- Determine the impact of upcoming trend
Do some mathematics. Some of the trends may be relevant for the brand but not actionable enough. Meaning there’s no economic of scales for your brand in that trend.
Try to estimate what would be the size of customers effected by the trend in question.
- Analyze consumer sentiment
Ok now you are sure the trend is relevant and actionable enough, now we have to know what would be the consumer sentiment if we go after the trend.
Do research in order to understand how people would feel about your brand and product if you go after the trend in question.
- Detect changes may follow
Look whether the trends will change the social universe. Is there bigger picture you have to think about? As soon as the housewives hit the Facebook, twitter became more popular among the Turkish youngsters. The moment Blogspot became more mass, the higher SEC youngster move to Tumblr
- Don’t just follow, engage
If you want to own a trend, just following and applying will never be enough. You need your brand to create platforms for of engaging the customer. Become a mediator and Increase customer participation with the trend.