Trends come and go at the speed of social. And with rapidly shifting consumer moods compounded by 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created every single day, brand marketers face a daunting challenge. They must sift through that noise and figure out which trends are here to stay and deserve attention, and which are fleeting and can be ignored. But they must put an even finer point on it than that, as some whacky trends should make their watch list and some viable trends aren’t worth pursuing. Yes, we’ll explain.
Which Emerging Trends Matter Most
Brands need to use consumer and market intelligence to prioritize adoption of emerging trends. It’s all moving very fast, and they can’t do it all at once. As market influences and consumer attitudes shift, brands should exercise diligence in understanding relevant conversations, competitor actions and the immediate needs/wants of consumers.
Market intelligence is gathered from a moving window which gives brands the intel into emerging trends to know whether to jump or stay put. And ongoing watchfulness helps brands sort out which accelerated trends matter most.
Here we’ll explore some accelerated trends from this year, including:
- Consumer’s playing off sustainability interests and growing their own food.
- The leap from our ongoing digital transformation to life-or-death digital adoption.
- Video chats replacing face-to-face, possibly forever.
And with sound business decisions being the aim, here are a couple related stats to keep in mind:
- Decision making is 5x faster for businesses using data analytics for market intelligence.
- In the quest for market intelligence, 40% of marketing and sales teams say that data science driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning is foundational to their success.
Sustainability Interest to Growing Own Food
Consumer interest in sustainability has been blossoming for years as an emerging trend, and has become a major factor in buyer purchasing patterns. As you can see below, consumer sentiment around sustainability leans heavily positive and remains unmoved by the pandemic.
Early in the pandemic as restaurants closed their doors and stories of panic buying filled the news, vegetable gardening became an accelerated trend that emerged from consumers’ sustainability interests.
Below is a snapshot of that conversation in Quid Social from March to the present. You can see the conversation take off quickly at the end of March and swell into April and May (green, yellow, blue and red):
As you can see, it was an emerging trend that experienced rapid acceleration fitting neatly with the coronavirus market stimulations. With extra time on their hands due to lockdowns and uncertainties over food safety and supply, market intelligence shows us that many consumers leaned into gardening at home as at least a partial solution.
Taking Advantage of Emerging Trends
Pretend for a moment that your brand had an interest in this conversation. If you were not active in your social media listening and monitoring, an accelerated emerging trend such as this one might be well upon you before you even noticed. After all, these types of situations happen all the time – especially this year.
And if you don’t see the consumers’ need in time, then you’re leaving opportunities on the table for your competitors to pick up. But that’s where brands that build their strategy using market intelligence powered by next generation artificial intelligence (AI) have the advantage.
Not only can you catch accelerated trends early, you can filter the conversational wave down to a granular level to decide if it’s advantageous for your brand to act, ignore or place the trend on the watch list.
Digital Transformation to Life-or-Death Digital Adoption
While our first example was an accelerated emerging trend that was an offshoot of a major trend, the pandemic stomped the gas pedal to the floor on the ongoing digital transformation. As schools and businesses shuttered their doors to comply with lockdown orders, people turned to the internet to get things done.
Indeed, the pandemic fast-forwarded our adoption of tech solutions in a life-or-death scramble for both brands and consumers. Employees moved online to work where they also ordered their groceries for delivery in unprecedented numbers. And delivery services are still rolling out fresh solutions – and many of them are informed by consumer and market intelligence.
Digital Transformation or Bust
In an effort to stay afloat, restaurants and fast-food chains rolled out app solutions and/or worked with web-based delivery providers like Grubhub and DoorDash to maintain viability. Likewise, hard-hit retail brands pushed all of their weight online in an effort to outlast reopening restrictions.
The online space really became a wild west free-for-all for a couple of months with consumers clamoring for answers while brands looked for solutions. But focused social listening yields competitive intelligence that not only reveals challenges, but helps you overcome them as well.
And as we move on from summer, we can look back and see a showcase of brands that saw emerging trends and needs in the digital sphere – and pivoted to meet them. Some brands helped families with their digital back-to-school solutions, while others like Spotify took advantage of the accelerating trend and formed a strategic partnership with UMG to enlarge its footprint in the explosive streaming space.
And we certainly can’t neglect the telehealth boom where tech, infrastructure and cyber security dominate the market intelligence conversation. Having kept millions from in-person hospital visits and possible exposure, it’s definitely been a life-or-death digital adoption in the realest sense during the pandemic.
Video Chats Replacing Face-to-Face, Possibly Forever
As time has worn on, video chat tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams have come to dominate the online meeting space. The need for online meetings exploded virtually overnight out of necessity seeing as face-to-face meetings were off the table; and is a great example of just how quickly an emerging trend can accelerate and gain traction. As a matter of fact, neither product made anyone’s 2020 trend predictions in our end-of-year social media trend analysis of 2019.
To get an idea of just how abrupt a trend can emerge, here’s a news and blogs analysis we ran on telecommuting back in the first week of April in the Quid product. As you can see, the consumer and market intelligence conversation in March dwarfs the previous year by an incredible margin.
But where are we going to end up with this trend? It’s a great question and will be very interesting to watch going forward. Brands have used the technology extensively when applicable. It’s still helpful in maintaining social distancing domestically, and critical for meetings abroad since the U.S. passport is still useless for entry into many countries.
From a social perspective, telework and online meetings are skewed negative in the net sentiment category. Here’s a look at sentiment drivers and emotions surrounding the subject just this past month.
What’s left to be seen however, is when the pandemic is truly put behind us – willbusinesses and employees be so entrenched in remote working that it changes the face of office work for good? After all, if production values can be maintained remotely, office space and school classrooms are a big cost that stand to be saved, if so. If that can be passed on to the consumer and in turn generates positive social traction online, then the ends would justify the means. Watching the consumer and market intelligence as it comes in there will be important.
Workers in turn, may come to find that the benefits of telecommuting in time and travel costs may outweigh the ‘always on’ characteristics that can come with telework. It’s an emerging trend that many appreciate regardless of its obvious downside.
Predicting the Future of Today’s Emerging Trends
Either way the pendulum falls in the telework conversation, there will be winners and losers -which underlines the importance of monitoring relevant trends throughout their life cycle. For example, should teleworking become the norm, then holders of office space stand to lose in the glut of unoccupied property available in a buyer’s market. Conversely, online meeting tech companies stand to lose both volume and momentum should schools and businesses go back to business as usual.
As always, it’s critical for brands to consistently capture sound market intelligence based on social media listening. Capturing accelerated trends such as these are a crucial first step in staying adaptable in ever-shifting markets. Consistent social media monitoring of them is equally important in your decisions to make a move, discern irrelevancy or decide to continue watching closely for future developments.
Is your brand ready to capture the next emerging trend as it bursts onto the scene? Our best-in-class social media listening tools help top brands filter through the noise for actionable insights that get results. Be sure to reach out for a personalized demo and see what we can do for you!