Stay on top of consumer trends that may affect your small business

In a post last week, I wrote about demographic trends that may have implications for your small business. Population changes, of course, are far from being the only trends to which your small business may need to respond. Consumer behavior is constantly shifting, making it incumbent upon you to consider how emerging consumer trends will affect what you do. Some of these trends may present opportunities to take your business in an exciting new direction with great potential; others can pose a threat to your basic business model.

The sharing economy, in which people earn income by sharing their physical assets (think Uber or Airbnb) or their skills and time (think TaskRabbit), is an example of a trend that could affect a wide variety of small businesses in numerous ways, some positive and some negative.

Another interesting emerging consumer trend is the fact that as middle-class incomes continue to stagnate, people are rewarding themselves by indulging in affordable luxuries. This explains the large number of fancy cupcake shops and donut stores that have opened in my town. It seems that hardly a month goes by without an announcement of a new bakery or an expansion of an existing one. The beauty of this consumer trend for small business owners is that people are willing to pay higher prices for small yet still affordable items that look, taste or feel luxurious. After all, whose day isn’t improved by a tasty cupcake?

Also, prognosticators are pointing out that baby boomers are increasingly seeking comfort in products and pursuits that remind them of their youth. Is there a way for you to tie one of your products in with a theme from the ‘50s or ‘60s? If so, you might find a ready market for it among nostalgic baby boomers.

Consumer trend resources

Faith Popcorn is my all-time favorite consumer trend forecaster. She has been doing this for decades and has a proven track record. I always find her trend topics to be thought provoking and I’m sure you will, too. Bookmark her BrainReserve website and check out its weekly trend reports. These weekly missives provide great input for brainstorming sessions with your staff.

Here are recent prognostications from other sources on changing consumer behaviors:

In “10 Hot Consumer Trends for 2015,” from Ericsson, the mobile network giant, you’ll find broad trends that offer a multitude of opportunities for small businesses.

Six trends in food brought about by changes in consumer habits and values

3 Consumer Behavior Trends Shaping the Future of Retail

Made in American Fashions More than a Trend

Finally, here is an article on what you should do when you spot a trend that might affect your business: “5 Strategies for Keeping Pace with Changing Customer Buying Behaviors” 

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