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Trend analysis… types, benefits, and examples

Trend analysis… types, benefits, and examples

Do you dream about finding the next big consumer trend? Management consultant Peter Drucker said, “You cannot predict the future, but you can create it.” Trend analysis will help you understand future consumers, and the products they’ll want. Discover and analyze market trends, and turn them into actionable insights that’ll enable decision-making across all teams.

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Talkwalker Quick Search for consumer trend analysis, shows results over thirteen months - 2.9M results around air fryers, with spikes seen in Q1 2021 as people are stuck in lockdown.

Quick Search results over 13 months show 2.9M results around air fryers, with spikes seen in Q1 2021 as the appliance along with OTT platforms became essential during lockdown. Source: Market Pulse.

First up, I'd like to ask you some questions...

  • Are you worried that you're using out-of-date or inaccurate data to make business decisions?
  • Do you struggle to back up your trends report so stakeholders understand its importance?
  • How much pressure are you under to find the next opportunity in the market?
  • Do you have sleepless nights worrying that you're missing a major trend?
  • Is your data analytics platform falling short?
  • Would you like a crystal ball?

I feel your pain. Your entire organization is relying on you and your team to provide relevant insights, to enable data-driven decision-making.

So much pressure…

Check out this post. It'll equip you with analytics and data expertise, so you'll be able to comprehensively present the latest industry and global trends intelligence, to your board, and technical/non-technical audiences. Along with performance measurement and reporting that you can share across your entire company.

Understanding how the past affects the future is necessary across all industries. This is why trend analysis, like predictive analysis and cash flow forecasting, is essential.

Trend forecasting will help you to…

  • Monitor emerging market trends
  • Find new market opportunities
  • Create data-driven business strategies
  • Identify which products will be in high demand
  • Develop a consumer insights strategy based on business goals
  • Analyze the impact of trends in your brand and industry
  • Understand the social values that matter to consumers
  • Turn research findings into actionable insights
  • Benchmark against your competitors

Sounds good?

Table of contents

What is trends analysis?

Trend analysis allows you to predict what's going to happen, based on what’s already happened.

It provides businesses with information regarding marketing and sales performance, product development, spending, and more. Enabling businesses to make data-driven decisions with regard to future events.

For example… retailers can use consumer trend analysis to find patterns in revenue and drops in sales of particular products for specific demographics and locations.

If your business is only monitoring current trends, there’s a danger that decisions will be based on what’s popular now. This is not sustainable. Consumer behavior and perceptions can change in the blink of an eye.

In marketing, for instance, analyzing emerging trends ensures that your content strategy will evolve and continue to attract your target audience. With regard to product development, you’ll be able to predict what consumers want, and be ready to launch.

Trends can be slow burners, meaning that constant monitoring is essential, so your business can evolve. Ignore these trends and your business will have to battle to catch up, or disappear.

Remember Polaroid cameras? The brand failed to appreciate the oncoming storm of digital cameras, so didn’t explore new products.

Your consumer trend analysis strategy will also show you when a trend is losing its sparkle. This means you can realign your efforts without losing traction.

Monitoring both traditional media and social media will give you the full picture. What consumers are talking about and how much engagement those conversations are getting. Increases in traffic or shifts in demographics are crucial to your competitive advantage.

But, trends aren’t always positive things you can steer your business towards. Your trend analysis will also reveal potential threats or a looming crisis. The earlier you spot these, the quicker you can prepare and protect your brand.

Consumer trend analysis post COVID

There aren’t many businesses that didn’t take a hit during the pandemic. Some industries suffered worse than others, with lockdowns closing restaurant doors and grounding flights. How will brands plan for an uncertain future?

Customer trend analysis from 2019 is redundant. 2020 and 2021, won’t do you much good either. Consumer behavior changed. It had to. And, it continues to adapt to our off-kilter world.

Trends analysis is the only way forward, if you want your business to survive.

How businesses use trend analysis

To keep your brand relevant and avoid off-key marketing messages. To read the room… you have to listen to global conversations. Consumer intelligence gleaned from technical analysis of trends will identify insights that can/should impact your business decisions.

Speed to insight and being able to adapt to changes is crucial. Otherwise, you’ll forever be playing catch-up with your competitors. A consumer intelligence platform built on AI-enabled technology will ensure you’re able to find and analyze trend data quickly.

Consumer trend analysis example…

Consumer buying behavior is always changing, pandemic or not. We want... we need different things, and we want them now.

Quick commerce is a trend that's taken mainstream media and social media by storm. If you're not sure what q-commerce is, it's a small grocery delivery that arrives with the customer within 10-minutes.

Conversation Clusters was used to map the conversations surrounding the biggest players, to understand the trending topics.

Conversation Clusters for consumer trend analysis, shows top discussions included the growth of the gig economy and new partnerships between supermarkets and quick commerce brands.

Top discussions included the growth of the gig economy and new partnerships between supermarkets and quick commerce brands.
Source: Market Pulse.

In January, chat about experiences with delivery apps represented 33.5% of the total conversations. Consumers talked about tipping for deliveries, safety, speed, and quality.

Brands in this sector need to use these consumer insights to enable them to make data-driven decisions and improve their offerings.

Looking to expand into new markets, share of voice across geographies reveals the potential for short-term and long-term strategies.

Talkwalker world map for trend analysis, shows DoorDash reign supreme in the US, Deliveroo dominates the European market, Rappi in Latin America, and Foodpanda in Asia

The world map shows DoorDash reign supreme in the US, Deliveroo dominates the European market, Rappi in Latin America,
and Foodpanda in Asia. Source: Market Pulse.

Let’s take a look at business intelligence trends and how they’re used…

Crisis management

I’m starting with crisis management, because… it’s crisis management. Right?!

Every brand should have a crisis management plan and be prepared. A crisis either of its own making, an unforeseen event taking place in its industry, a product launch that flopped, or a pandemic…

Monitoring the ebb and flow of conversations will alert you to a crisis on the horizon, giving you time to set your plan in motion.

In 2020, we were all put to the test. While many businesses closed their doors for good, brands that analyzed the trends were able to adapt, and survive.

Customer trend analysis gave food for thought, with more restaurants offering delivery or takeaway services, and retailers introducing click and collect. Brands raced to meet new consumer demands, brought about by the pandemic.

US based Grubhub - a food ordering and delivery platform - turned to trend analysis and consumer insights, to meet people’s needs and address their fears. Restricted household budgets, disinfection protocols, and safe food delivery being major concerns.

You can’t afford to hesitate when a crisis threatens. Trend analysis will keep you on red alert, prepared to react immediately.

Brand loyalty

Consumers are in charge. If they don’t get what they want from a brand, they’ll bounce to another. Brand loyalty is no longer a given. If a brand fails to read the room and posts insensitive content, doesn’t support a worthy cause, lacks the human touch, consumers won’t hesitate to walk away.

Following trends will help your brand remain culturally relevant, and in this day and age, that’s critical to survival. Warning… trend analysis is constant. This month’s craze will be old news soon.

Brand health

While exploiting trends will keep your brand current, knowing when to abandon a trend is equally important. You’ll know when it’s time to jump ship, when mentions start to drop.

Consumers spend a lot of time on social media, scrolling through their feeds looking for fun, interesting stuff to read. If they keep seeing brands milking a dying trend…

Boooooooooring!

Monitor the conversations surrounding a trend so you know when it’s time to leave, otherwise your brand health will be compromised.

Marketing

This one’s a cinch…

What are your intended consumers talking about? What’s the buzz?

Please, don’t guess. Don’t follow a trend because you think it’s cool. Listen to your target audience.

Gen Z are all over TikTok, but you don’t get what all the fuss is about. Are you selling to Gen Z or yourself?

The changes in consumer behavior will ignite new consumer trends. Recognizing these trends means you can target your content strategy. Trend analysis uncovers consumers demands and changes in buying habits, along with who’s saying what and where they’re saying it.

Track these valuable conversations and you’ll be able to understand if it’s a trend that’s going to disappear quickly, or if it’s going to rock your boat.

A biggie means watching how the conversation is evolving, allowing you to adapt. Update your messaging, branding, change your influencer marketing campaign, target your social media strategy, adjust product packaging, ingredients, sources, prices, etc.

Starbucks used consumer intelligence to find out what people are saying about the brand. Collecting valuable feedback to
enable brand and product improvement.

Influencer marketing

While your trend monitoring will identify current and emerging trends, you’ll also be able to identify influencers surrounding those trends.

How do consumers feel about particular influencers? Love ‘em or hate ‘em? Can you capitalize on their popularity, or dodge a bullet?

Trend analysis example…

Last year, Brad Pitt became the latest brand ambassador for the De'Longhi Group. The campaign featured a video ad showing Brad riding a motorbike in search of coffee beans. It quickly received over 200K views, with conversations brewing about the brand, actor, and director.

Talkwalker's Influencer Network shows that Brad Pitt fan sites jumped on board, along with celebrity and fashion news sources across geographies.

Influencer Network shows that Brad Pitt fan sites jumped on board, along with celebrity and fashion news sources across geographies.

Using such a high profile and popular actor meant that celebrity and fashion media picked up the campaign and expanded its reach. De'Longhi found an influencer that worked with their target audience, while reaching a new audience.

Product development

Plant-based meats is a trend that’s not going away. Brands listened to consumers and realized they couldn’t ignore the increased interest in veganism and sustainability. The food industry has to remain on the ball, as people ask for new flavors and better sourced ingredients.

KFC listened to consumers and launched its plant-based fried chicken - Beyond Nuggets - in the US. It generated 15.6K social media mentions, with 210.6K engagements. Sentiment was split evenly across positive, neutral, and negative.

Talkwalker sentiment analysis for trend analysis. Eyes and chicken emoji in the middle of the spectrum indicate that many - brands and consumers - have their eye on KFC and other plant-based meat ventures.

Eyes and chicken emoji in the middle of the spectrum indicate
that many - brands and consumers - have their eye on KFC and other plant-based meat ventures.

This is a great example of a brand with a trend monitoring strategy. KFC could have ignored the online chatter, and spent time and money developing a new product - chicken and fries muffins, for instance - only for it to fail. While there are some people who clearly don’t rank Beyond Nuggets - see vomiting emoji - the positive sentiment proves the brand is on the right track.

Voice of the customer

Listening to the voice of the customer will help you learn their demographics - age, gender, language, occupations, interests, location, etc. You’ll understand their needs and wants, their emotions towards your brand, competitors, industry, and their pain points.

These consumer insights along with your trend analysis will keep your brand aligned with your target audience. Ensuring your brand messaging and product development is on point.

Trend analysis example…

Hand hygiene became a matter of life or death during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumer trends reflected this as people cut down on makeup and shaving, and looked for natural products.

Listening to consumers helped brands understand the change in consumer perception and needs, enabling them to reposition their product lines to meet new demands. Using trend analysis to collect consumer insights proves faster and cheaper than traditional market research, potentially saving $$$.

Customer experience

Knowing your target audience, and all their quirks and foibles, means you can tailor the customer experience to their pleasure.

Consumer trend analysis will allow you to continually monitor their preferences, so you can tweak your CX strategy to increase trust and avoid customer churn.

Types of trends

Trends are defined in three ways - mega, macro, and micro. You’ll need to understand what each is, for the best trend analysis

Mega trends

Trends aren’t always fun things. They can be devastating…

A mega trend grows over a period of time and has a long life. It’ll impact global society, and most industries. We can all see it. We all know what it’s about. Sustainability, climate change, population growth, urbanization, technological advances, health, diversity, inclusivity, financial crises, COVID-19, etc., are mega trends.

While we’re all aware of them, and they’re regularly featured in the news, it can be tough understanding how they could/should affect your business. They often change the way consumers behave, demand, and buying habits.

It’s vital that your business strategy considers these trends, so you’re prepared.

Macro trends

Related to mega trends, macro trends include shifts in consumer behavior that’ll change businesses in the long-term.

Understood by most of the population, macro trends would include social media, Internet of Things - IoT, machine learning, artificial intelligence, big data, etc.

Micro trends

These wee trends are lively, and many. They’ve been around a while, impacting early adopters. An example would be Facebook when it first launched. A service initially only open to students, growing into one of the leading social media platforms.

Other examples of micro trends would be subscription-based meal boxes, cheap fashion items designed to only last one season, and - don’t shoot the messenger - veganism.

“At HelloFresh, data is at the center of everything we do. It was only natural for us to turn to social media listening to improve the performance and efficiency of our marketing and communications teams."
Jordan Schultz, Social Media Manager at HelloFresh

Micro trends can become mainstream, such as Facebook, and as we’re seeing with veganism - phew! saved.

In 2020, the global value of the meat substitutes market was worth $6.67 billion. This number is estimated to increase and reach $16.7 by 2026.

Fads

I’m going to mention fads, even though they’re not trends. They’re very popular for a short period of time, and could be a style, interest, or activity. They start quickly, and are usually limited to a single industry or demographic.

Whereas a trend builds slowly, and grows. It lasts longer and ordinarily involves multiple industries and demographics.

But, it would be foolish to ignore a fad. Examples include fashion, new diets, exercises, dance routines…

Yep, looking at you, TikTok.

Fads are often found on social media. If you spot one and it’ll resonate with your target audience, get in there quick.

Where did all the unicorns go?

Types of trend analysis

Here I’ll explain the different types of trend analysis that you can conduct, if you’re looking for a clear understanding of consumer behavior and how it impacts your market…

Consumer trend analysis

Consumer or customer trend analysis looks into the factors that drive product consumption. Understanding the needs and behavior of customers and what influences their buying decision.

Collect preferences, opinions, customer satisfaction, dislikes, etc., and use these insights when you’re set to launch a new product, to see how it impacts the market and your target audience.

Historical trend analysis

It’s important to have visibility of emerging and future trends, along with past trends. Historical data can be yesterday, last week, or several years back.

Looking at historical trends will show you how a trend evolved. How it impacts your current market, and how it could affect the future. This will help with future planning.

Seasonal trend analysis

Seasonal or temporal trend analysis looks at shifts in market trends that are related to external factors - holidays, climate.

For instance, leading up to Christmas, consumers purchasing behavior shifts dramatically. The retail and CPG sectors are hit with a boost in demand. Studying this buying behavior will enable brands to create a plan of action in advance.

Events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday happen every year. They’re trends you know are coming, so you can create campaigns and ads to entice consumers in the build up.

Having an understanding of seasonal trends means you can update your marketing campaigns and offer promotions or special deals at relevant times during the year.

Geographical trend analysis

Geographical trends analysis studies variations in trends in particular locations. You’d compare trends across regions, states, countries, and continents, to learn how they develop in each area.

For instance, if you’re looking to expand your business into France, it’d be foolish to move forward without knowledge of the country, consumer behavior, market trends, etc. You’d be doomed to failure.

Example… TikTok kicked off in Asia at the end of 2019, and younger generations loved it. During lockdown in 2020/21, it’s popularity soared, and now it’s a global phenomenon.

Social media trend analysis

The very nature of social media means that consumer trends hit social channels before they impact the market. A consumer intelligence platform such as Talkwalker will enable you to do technical trend analysis, so you can understand how this data could impact the market’s future.

Social media is a popular platform for consumers when researching products they want to buy. Reviews left by peers and influencers are highly trusted by consumers. More so than brand posts.

The consumer insights gleaned from consumer conversations will benefit several teams. Marketing can create messaging that talks the same language as consumers, joining conversations and getting a feel for the sentiment. Product development will learn what people really want, rather than guessing. Customer service can find out the pain points, so they can address them before they escalate.

Consumer intelligence platforms, like Talkwalker, provide a way of listening to conversations on social media and understanding the consumer sentiment.

Be ready for future consumers

These consumer trend analysis tips can be used to confirm your business strategy, target your marketing communication, and improve your product development.

The pandemic stirred up trend mapping. Consumer behavior shifted dramatically, and brands were forced to follow. What worked in the past is now redundant.

Our consumer intelligence dashboard is an example of how you can perform trend analysis and identify accurate consumer insights. To back up your trends reporting, and find the next opportunity to hit the market.

Download your crystal ball…

Consumer intelligence dashboard for trend analysis