At this point in the year, the one trend that has remained steady is this: anything goes. As some trends moved to the back burner and new ones came on unexpectedly, brands have had their hands full making informed predictions around emerging trends.
We’ll explore why brands shouldn’t get complacent in their market research with a focus on:
- Ways in which 2020 predictions where a bit off.
- How pandemics can defy planning.
- Having emerging trends at the ready when it’s time to pivot.
And here are some stats that no one saw coming last year:
- So far this year, 26 major U.S. retailers have filed for bankruptcy protection; up from a total of 17 last year.
- The U.S. telehealth market is predicted to top 80% year over year growth in 2020 due to the pandemic.
- Digital behavioral health startups have attracted $588M in funding so far this year; up from $539M for the whole of 2019.
2020 Predictions Were a Bit Off
At the end of every year, the internet loves to predict emerging trends that are sure to take off the following year. However, a global pandemic wasn’t a factor that most people included in their predictions. Here’s a look in Quid Social at that conversation back in December:
Little did we know that all of it was going to get turned on its head. But with the aid of hindsight, perhaps we can glean a lesson or two from how the pandemic put some trends out to pasture while putting others on fast forward.
As 2020 has played out, whether a trend goes hot or cold has hinged mostly on necessity for many – especially during the early days of the pandemic. Chatter about the latest hairstyles waned as people lamented online about how long it had been since they’d seen a stylist.
Mocktails and CBD-infused beverages were gaining heavy traction going into this year. And while the trend caught a hiccup as alcohol sales soared in March and April, ongoing health trends indicate it will renew its upward mobility.
And who would have thought that we’d see the fashion industry drop everything to make masks. Or that we’d see a virtual-only Paris Fashion Week.
Dopamine fasting and screen vacations took a backseat as Zoom became our workplace; streaming services held the tedium of quarantine at bay and rideshare services delivered food instead of people. Tech-based trends have largely seen unprecedented growth as the pandemic repressed brick-and-mortar operations. The meteoric adoption of telehealth and our embrace of virtual worlds in the absence of in-person events are great examples.
And they’re built on trending holdouts from December where the artificial intelligence and gaming clusters took up 8.6% of the social conversation.
Pandemics Defy Planning
Unfortunately for many companies, the pandemic tide came in too fast and proved too strong for them to pull through. Bankruptcies are accelerating for those unable to maneuver their business model into a workable solution. The restaurant and retail industries have been particularly hard-hit – as have travel and hospitality.
Rental car giant Hertz, saddled with debt, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy towards the end of May on the heels of diminishing demand, and is currently on the ropes seeking a $1.5B bankruptcy loan. They are the largest company to file bankruptcy this year so far.
The once up and coming shared-office company WeWork was preparing for its IPO this time last year, but has seen nothing but trouble this year. Troubles between investors and management were already creating turmoil prior to the pandemic; which left it on shaky ground as the coronavirus (and Zoom) sucked the air out of the shared-office business model.
Well … almost. One niche of the shared-office model doing really well right now are ghost kitchens. These are common kitchen spaces used by two or more restaurants to prepare food for delivery. And since there’s no storefront, they can be located anywhere that is convenient from a delivery standpoint. During the pandemic they’ve been a lifeline for both restaurants closed to dine-in service, and for owners of increasingly unoccupied commercial real estate.
These are just a few examples of the topsy-turvy effect that the pandemic has had on industry trends, so let’s look at what brands should be doing to be in the best position ahead of any market upheaval.
Having Emerging Trends in Your Back Pocket & Always Ready to Pivot
Brands engaged in persistent market research are consistently in the best position to uncover emerging trends and react decisively. If the pandemic has taught us anything marketwise – it’s that adaptability is king. There’re quite a few brands that could be staring at bleak balance sheets right now as the coronavirus pulled the rug from under their business model. But instead they were on top of their market research, saw the tsunami building, and shifted their direction so they could survive the storm.
Uber is a great example. As the world went into lockdown mode, ride-hailing dried up quick. That coupled with the fact that restaurants were scaled back to just delivery and carry out, Uber quickly shifted its weight to Uber Eats. The move offset the blow to its main revenue source while filling in white space in the restaurant industry in the process.
Likewise, as travel ground to a halt, AirBnB looked to be in quite a pinch. But in a shining display of adaptability, they put all of their resources behind quickly growing their nascent AirBnB Online Experiences, which saw it through the worst of the lockdowns.
Instead of hosts offering homes for rent, talented hosts offer online classes and virtual tours that have been a hit for would-be travelers stuck at home. It was a brilliant move that saved AirBnB quite a financial headache and is a masterclass in adaptability for brands.
Adapting Quickly to Emerging Trends
Catching trends and adapting quickly pays dividends. AirBnB could have been scrounging for change right now, but here they are in August discussing an IPO during a pandemic.
Baseline metrics for many brands have moved repeatedly this year and having emerging trends in your back pocket has never been more important.
As economies continue to reopen, kids return to school and looming elections exert their own influences into the marketplace, your brand needs to know exactly where it stands relative to its market surroundings – in case a quick shift becomes imperative.
Is your market research up to date? Through the power of next generation artificial intelligence (AI) we help top brands spot emerging trends that keep them nimble when the going gets rough. Make sure your brand is poised to pivot at a moment’s notice – reach out for a personalized demo and we’ll show you how!