Whether you’re running a creative business or are part of a design team, it is vital to be one step ahead of the latest trends. We’re not just talking about fashion design trends here – we’re talking about business trends, market trends, technology changes and social networking developments. Imagine the influence you could have had if your business had been one of the first on Facebook or Twitter. Similarly, it’s no good catching the end tail of a trendy fashion accessory and hoping for the best – that’s a fast track way to losing money and credibility with your customer base. Have a read through the tips below so you never miss your chance again.
Affecting Your Bottom Line
By the time you’ve worked out that something is popular, redesigned it and produced it yourself, those items will already be saturating the market and beginning to lose their fan base. Investing in the trend at that point could see you holding immovable stock, all headed straight for the bargain bin.
Customer Base Credibility
Real competitive advantage only comes with doing something different. If you’re the first to do something, your fans will know, your fans will talk and your customer base will grow. Being ahead of the trend also offers amazing press and marketing possibilities.
Some business owners I speak to think they’ll never be able to follow the constantly changing markets – but that’s certainly not the case. Sure, some designers have a natural flare for trends and can instinctively tell what trends we’ll be seeing. But they’ll rarely notice something that wasn’t available to everyone else. There isn’t a secret app that only Facebook and Apple know about. So you have the capability to predict trends too.
Here are six questions you can ask yourself to help you discover the next big thing:
Is it simple?
Today’s modern society is complicated enough, let’s be honest. Many people are desperate for a little bit of simplicity in their lives and that is why some simple – incredibly simple – things are becoming fashionable. Just think about the Yo app. All it can do is send the message ‘Yo’ to your contacts, and yet it is considered to be worth $10 million.
Is it environmental?
Considering the environment has never been more important, and we can’t see that changing any time soon. Companies that are seen to be more earth-conscious are seen more positively. If it negatively impacts the environment – steer clear.
Is it being invested in?
If you struggle to see what is going to be popular tomorrow, watch the investors. Investors gamble their entire careers (and some, their own cash!) on new start-ups and new companies. So chances are, they are pretty serious about it. Watch them, and you’ll have a good idea of what is going to be popular soon. Look for patterns in what seed-stage startups are pitching on AngelList or in talks by entrepreneurs online.
What’s being talked about?
What and who is being talked about? You’ll soon notice that certain companies, events, ideas and people begin to get a huge amount of air time or inches in the newspaper. These are the things that subconsciously influence consumers. Coming up to the Centenary, here in the UK we saw a huge increase in war stories, photography and memorabilia. Smart fashion businesses incorporated military detailing into their lines. An even smarter company based their entire Christmas advert on it – I’m not going to say which one, because you know. And that’s how good it was.
Keep an eye out on key news channels for new developments in your industry. If you want to know about tech, for example, study the programming tools. When a new tool comes along it often predicts what kinds of technologies will be built in the future. A good place to keep on the tech pulse would be TechCrunch.
Does it solve a problem?
Find a problem. Solve it. In a business world where numbers rule, it’s the companies with the ability to harness consumer loyalty who prevail. There is little sustainability in a product that simply looks good. Customers care more about heightening their experiences and satisfaction. If you’re not a natural at this, I find that some of the best problem solvers are design graduates, many of whom base their projects on real-life problems that they have themselves. Check out a graduate show and collaborate with a brilliant mind. As well as discovering some awesome creations, you may also be rubbing shoulders with the next Zuckerberg, Page or Brin.
Is TED talking about it?
TED talks seem to be the pulse on the changing world, and so if you watch or listen to them, you should be able to see what the industry leaders believe is really important. You may even find that you are really knowledgeable in that area, and can start making the most of your insider knowledge.
Some Post-Prediction Tips
Trend or not, if you’re about to drop some of your time or hard cash on a product, you’d be totally mad not to test it out. On Offset Warehouse I always test out new products and site functionality before and after we develop them. The pre-test can come as a form of survey or quick poll. It’s easy to integrate polls into your website or social networks, so you have no reason not ask your customers what they think! Before you launch into a developing a million units, test the water with some prototypes – sell a handful to some key clients and see what the reaction is.
So there you have it. Your quick fire guide to making sure that you aren’t left behind when it comes to predicting the future. Keep your eyes and ears open and get ready for your next big move.
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