Dialogue Q3 2018

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How to be a trend spotter Successful leaders analyse the world outside their window, writes Joe DiVanna

Trends in customer behaviour and technology are moving faster than most organizations can cope with. Anticipating them, tracking changes and reacting in time to make substantive revenues are major challenges. The future of an organization’s profitability and sustainability is determined by many factors – some of which are beyond the control of the organization. Yet how senior management assesses macroeconomic adjustments, demographic shifts, technological advances and new levels of customer demands – based on behaviours and other social dynamics – will determine their organization’s long-term viability. Thus, senior managers need to find more efficient ways of interpreting the world around them and prioritizing the application of resources to remain competitive. Here’s how... QUALITATIVE TREND SPOT TING

Listen to your customers: collect ideas

The least costly way to gain market intelligence is to create a dialogue with your customers. The goal is to discover customer preferences, needs and wants. Above all, try to quantify the frequency at which they engage with your company. Rising frequencies are strong indicators that leaders should give a trend greater attention. Equally, falling frequencies are also strongly indicative that more investigation is required. Dialogue Q3 2018

Once preferences are identified they must be consolidated into similar and dissimilar properties (segmentation). These become the basis of new products or, at least, identify gaps in the existing product portfolio. Customers’ frequency of engagement with their supplier helps to determine the relevance of a trend to an organization’s value proposition. Customer trends can be placed in three broad categories: consumer lifestyle/lifestage (subtle shifts in behaviours and attitudes) consumer products (indicating a new preference) consumer engagement (frequency or intensity of the experience)