How will consumer trends impact your business in 2016?

It’s that time of the year when marketers and business owners think about what the New Year will bring with respect to continued success.

It’s that time of the year again when marketers and business owners start thinking about what the New Year will bring with respect to continued success. The challenge of course is to be able to zero in on the trends that will impact their business.

Many will need to focus or perhaps refocus on some of the trends that have been with us for a few years. Some of them are fairly obvious like the growth of mobile devices such as smartphones, which will continue to provide greater opportunities for interaction with customers.

This in itself will lead businesses to ramp up their relationship marketing strategies. Building stronger loyalty and long-term engagement with customers rather than one-off sales will create greater opportunities for developing brand awareness.

Social networking will continue to grow and occupy a great deal of people’s time. Businesses that find ways to become part of their customers’ conversations and create brand advocates will also find that they need to be able to develop shorter and more compelling ways to attract attention.

According to various studies, the average user picks up their smartphone more than 1,500 times per week, spends close to three hours per day, or accordingly is online for nearly 45 full days per year. Given these kinds of statistics, it becomes increasingly important to be able to provide content that captures their attention.

This of course is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Trying to isolate trends that affect your business can be a daunting task, but fortunately today we have an incredible tool at our fingertips … the Internet. A quick search reveals a plethora of overarching trends that will affect buying decisions not just locally but on a global scale.

Here’s just a few that need to be considered when making marketing decisions. Consumers will continue on their search for value while at the same time take a more cautious approach to credit. There will be greater focus on ethical issues and a rise in social responsibility.

The quest for products that are more natural or organic will heighten the chemical backlash movement, and the fight against obesity will continue to preoccupy health concerns. So too will the focus of postponing old age for boomers and the blurring of age boundaries as more and more people place greater emphasis on living a healthy lifestyle.

The growth in mobile device use will promote what is being labeled ‘mobile cocooning’. Trending research shows that the next generation of users will increasingly rely on digital devices for more than basic communications, social networking and Internet browsing. We’re already seeing that in the number of apps that do just about anything that can be imagined … from turning out the lights, to depositing a cheque to keeping tabs of your exercise program.

While there is a focus on technology and social values, marketers and business owners should not forget the other trends that can affect their businesses. For example, colour trends will impact fashion, home décor, graphic design and even influence product packaging, store display or your booth at the consumer or trade show.

Although there does not seem to be anything life changing on the horizon to create another one of those paradigm shifts, we will however continue to see many of the current trends and products accelerate in terms of development. As a result they will take a greater role in helping people make decisions on the purchase of products and services. Positioning your business to play a key role in this decision-making process will ensure continued success.

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at joesmith@shaw.ca

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