Keeping up with consumer trends is essential to building a profitable product line for your E-Biz. It’s a common misconception that trends are random, popping out of nowhere; but this is seldom the case. According to veteran trend spotter Lisa Suttora, founder of WhatDoISell.com, most major trends are the result of a process she refers to as “trend blending”. Explains Suttora, “Multiple trends often merge to form the next big trend. If you look closely at today’s hot items, you’ll recognize evolved versions of products that were popular yesterday.”
The reason trend blending is so important to the online retailer is that the resulting products are readily accepted by consumers. Most buyers aren’t consciously aware of why they’re drawn to these new items. But the reason is that these items tap into what consumers already want and provide a cross section of the underlying trends with which they’re already familiar. For example, buyers want high-tech products, and they want products that relate to their favorite entertainment – so when they see Spiderman, Transformers, or Pirates of the Caribbean backpacks with iPod docking stations, it’s a no-brainer for them.
Know Your Market
Blended trends often give rise to extremely specialized niche items that appeal to very specific, very targeted groups of consumers. It’s important to realize that not every niche market is looking for the cheapest deal. There are certainly those consumers out there, but one of the biggest trends in online shopping is actually the movement towards luxury goods.
Advises Suttora, “Statistics show that most online shoppers have annual incomes of $75,000 or more. In fact, the newest big demographic of online shoppers is millionaires. So don’t assume you can’t sell a niche product because it’s not under $25. If it’s on-trend, you may do just as well, or better, with a niche product that costs $5,000.”
Know Your Trends
Think about some current trends – out-door living, fitness training, incorporating technology into everyday products. Other big trends include character-related products and children’s toys that provide educational value. The following are just a few examples of products these trends have spawned:
• Fitness training meets advanced technology in shirts and shoes fitted with a transmitting device that sends your speed, distance, and heart rate to a monitor wristwatch, or even to your iPod. Your monitor, in turn, displays your training zones, elevation, calories burned, cadence, etc.
• Character items combines with educational toys in Spiderman laptops designed for children under four.
• Outdoor living, fitness training, and advanced technology all contribute to the demand for watches that track the tide – designed for the surfer, boater, fisher, or outdoor enthusiast.
Cracking the Code
To help sharpen your ability to spot blended trends, Suttora recommends a simple exercise: Flip through any industry publication, and study the various articles and advertisements. Try to determine which trends gave rise to the products and industry developments you find. You may be surprised at how easy it is to “crack the code” and figure out the origin of any given trend.
Once you realize that trends move with rhyme and reason, you’ll be well on your way to identifying where today’s trends are going and what products you should be sourcing next. As you calculate where current trends are heading, you can talk to your suppliers and find out what products they carry, or have in development, that will appeal to those niche markets. The information is already out there – all you have to do is put the pieces together.