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Trends: How Do You Know What To Follow?
Author: Marla Tabaka
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

In 1989, Lush co-founder, Mo Constantine, gained inspiration from a little, fast-fizzing tablet that had been on the market since 1931—Alka-Seltzer. Soon after his initial fascination with the antacid, the first bath bomb hit the market. Since that time, Lush has grown into an international brand respected for not only its superior products but for ethical buying practices and social and corporate responsibility. The Lush brand is known for its trendsetting image and enjoys what some call a cult-like following. Since Lush released the bath bomb many companies, small and large, have followed the trend, practically creating an industry in and of itself.

New products known to re-shape an existing consumer experience hit the market every day; some are trendsetting, some predictable. Both are important to the consumer, but predictably doesn’t necessarily translate to boring. Consumers like a stable brand, one they can count on, to be honest, consistent and authentic.

This is why it’s important to establish who you are as a brand. What values and practices are core to your brand’s persona? Knowing this will help you determine which trends to follow, and how to evolve them.

Is this trend real and will it be around for a while?
It’s rare that a trend evolves into a decades-long success story--many go away practically overnight. Watch the more established brands for hints on a trend’s staying power. If you see them investing, it’s likely there’s something to this new concept.

For instance, many brands are responding to the consumer’s awareness of environmental concerns. Consumers have more knowledge of raw materials and source origins than ever before, but they want quality and effectiveness to remain strong. Savvy buyers turn their choices to products with non-animal derived ingredients and sustainable packaging options. This “natural” trend has staying power and is not going away anytime soon--certainly worth the investment.

Will it help me remain relevant in my category?
You may offer the highest in product quality and your customers know what to expect from you. Even so, as time passes and new ideas hit the market, you may see a decline in your product’s relevance. The media is a great example: Many newspapers have a reputation for their award-winning news coverage, but in recent years readers are exposed to more and more choices. Cable news, satellite radio, growing online resources, and even Twitter are dominating the media market, so the hands-on newspaper’s relevance has declined. Think about your own purchasing preferences. Have you ever been loyal to a brand for years, only to walk away when the products no longer compete with what’s trending? I know that I have!

Studying trends and anticipating their effect on the industry and the consumer’s purchasing decisions can prepare you to take the steps necessary to meet the demands of an ever-changing retail market.

Does my brand have the capacity to respond to this trend?
Responding to a trend costs time and money. You don’t want to simply toss a totally different concept into your product line. It’s important to make it stand out and promote it to the right audience. Adding your unique spin to the product(s), branding ideas, and/or packaging will take experimentation and research. Do you have the time? Can you afford the financial risk should your audience not respond to the trend?

Will focusing on this trend affect my current positioning and therefore alienate my key consumer groups?
Your brand may currently appeal to Gen X, but you have your eye on an emerging trend that targets Millennials. Will it scare off your current customer base? If you’re known for elegance, will adding a line of fun and quirky products cheapen your brand? Will you launch a new line under your current label, or create another label to target a whole new demographic? Switching gears, as some trends dictate, is more complicated than meets the eye. If you’re considering a change, make sure to think it through with the assistance of a mentor or branding expert.

Creative minds naturally want to jump in and develop ideas based on new trends, but there’s a difference between being proactive and being hasty. Do your research and calculate risks and costs. Once your ideas pass the test, have fun and let your customers see the full extent of your creativity!



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