The end of the year brings a welter of articles about trends, and while it’s important to have an understanding of relevant ones – which may not always be directly related to a brand’s own sector – what is ultimately most important is whether or not a business acts on them.

Trends are not actually very hard to find, according to Verity Elgee, associate director at Savanta. “Many are heard and discussed, maybe at the pub, but they go unnoticed,” she told the recent Festival of Marketing. “They’re like an untapped potential.”

Her view is that they are rather like a storm approaching. “You have to spot them early, monitor them and plan for them.”

The thing about trends, she added, is that spotting them is only half the battle. “We have to look at trends and be open to them but, more importantly, we have to act on them – and the ability to act is what will determine survival.”

Savanta places trends into one of three categories:

  • residual: looking back to trends that have already happened;
  • dominant: trends that are happening today; and
  • emerging: hypothesising for tomorrow.

The last of these are clearly the ones that are most difficult to pin down, but they are also the ones that are most valuable, allowing brands to potentially get ahead of the game. “A good way to look at emerging trends, is they are kind of a whisper of something larger to come,” she elaborated.

Retailer HMV, for example, failed to heed the murmurs that heralded the trend to digital and really came unstuck when consumers in that category started moving away from ownership and towards prioritising access instead. “Why own 20 DVDs which take up space when instead you could buy a Netflix [subscription] – that gives you access to thousands of movies – but not actually own any?”

Not only can acting on trends help a brand stay relevant and survive, “for those [brands] truly on point and determined to act on trends, they can shape culture, shape the future and really create change.”

For more advice about how to act on trends, read WARC’s report: Finding trends is easy, acting on them is hard.

Sourced from WARC