{Business Tips} 12 Trends to Watch in 2012

The word “trend” can sometimes be seen as a polar opposite of “green”.  A trendy outfit can be one that is worn once or twice and then discarded into a landfill….or hopefully upcycled into something beautiful and new!   However, for me, the word trend encompasses business opportunity.  Understanding trends in consumer behavior can open new doors for your business and expand your creativity.

As we enter the new year, I thought it would be the perfect time to highlight some of the consumer behavior trends that are predicted in fashion, health and beauty for 2012.  Hopefully, within these trends you will find a few sparks of inspiration to make some positive changes in your business this year.

#1 – Focus on Green

There is no surprise to this team that each year consumers are becoming more and more focused on purchasing products that are “green” and living a greener lifestyle.  I loved this quote that I found from TrendWatching.com:

Consumers’ interest in eco-friendly goods and services will continue to create huge opportunities for brands that deliver more sustainable, iconic, fun, cheaper, better, easier solutions. As more and more consumers want to be the GREENEST, brands will have no choice but to deliver.

As you plan your messages for this consumer, there are several angles that messaging can take to resonate with these consumers.  They are:

  1. Green=less expensive….This trend is typically seen with lowering utility costs or increasing the fuel economy of a vehicle and saving on gasoline expenses.  Many of the EcoEtsy team products won’t fall into this messaging focus.
  2. Green=healthy….The trend away from products that contain a wide variety of toxins is a huge driver of the green movement.  Expressing how your products are organic, toxin free, etc. can go a long way with buyers.
  3. Green=reducing waste….For those who’s products are made from recycling/upcycling materials that has a “prior life”, stressing how you are keeping products out of landfills will definitely resonate with this group.
  4. Green=cool….There is a group of consumers out there who just like to buy green products because of their unique designs and the stories behind how the products were developed.  They see the other benefits (health, waste reduction) as an added bonus.

#2 – Brand Stories

Customers are continuing to look for brands that they connect with to provide an extension of their view of the world.  The EcoEtsy team is in a unique position on this one because we have the opportunity to tell the backstory for each item in our shops.  Our backstories provide the buyer the perfect conversation starter in any situation – at work, at home, or out and about town.  When someone asks “where did you get that….”, they are able to say “from this wonderful shop on Etsy, did you know that this brand uses all organic materials?”.  From there a great conversation and possibly a referral to your shop ensues.  What are your brand

#3 – Giving Back

Brands that have a philosophy of giving back are growing and becoming more appreciated by customers.  These buyers want to be associated with companies that are supporting causes that they believe in.  Giving back can take many different forms from volunteering, to promoting a cause, to donating a percent of sales to an organization.  Finding a cause that aligns with the philosophy of your company and is something you are passionate about can be a powerful combination.  The partnerships can provide you with a sense of pride in  making a difference and give your customers another reason to love your brand.

#4 – Curating Consumers

As Etsy shop owners, many of us have been curating products we love into collections through treasuries for quite some time.  With the advent of Pinterest, customer curation is becoming really popular, really fast.  Individuals can quickly find people with design styles they like and “follow” them as they add to their boards.  This visual form of recommendation will continue to evolve social media and the way news about new (or established) artists spread across the web.  Are Pinterest or Etsy Treasuries a part of your strategy this year?  If not, you might want to consider adding!

#5 – Pop-Up Stores

Pop-Up Retail is becoming more popular across the world.  A brand comes in and occupies a storefront for a short period of time – one day to three months.  Social media lets fans and followers know that the store is in town and they become a shopping destination.  If the “For Lease” signs are hanging around your town like they are in mine, a pop-up might be within your financial reach this year.  Imagine having a storefront during a festival, over the holidays or any other high traffic time in your downtown area!  Your sales might be great with the added bonus of increased awareness in your local neighborhood.

#6 – Information Overload

With information available on any topic in an instant, consumers are feeling overwhelmed.  Anything your brand can do to simplify information and save them time is greatly appreciated.  Is your communication as straightforward as it could be?  How can you make the process simpler for your customers.

#7 – Life is a Game

Games, challenges, and contests are more prevalent than ever.  Companies should look for ways to create engaging games around their brand.  Possibly start with a giveaway, move on to challenges, maybe a scavenger hunt.  Think out of the box on how you can get your customers involved in the fun of the game.

#8 – Make it Yourself

Following in the Do-it-Yourself pattern, consumers are interested in spending down time making things.  Depending on your business, patterns or kits could begin to provide you with another revenue stream.  Determine if there are parts of your process that are proprietary and come up with ideas to leverage the techniques that are not.

#9 – Need it Now

Mobile devices have shifted customer expectations to the “now”.  I text you….you text back NOW.  I have a question, I get an answer NOW.  Because of this new normal, consumers have higher expectations on the responsiveness of companies.  What strategies do you have in place to respond to customers questions and requests in a quick, timely fashion?

#10 – Personalize It

Customization continues to be desired by many consumers.  While a product does not need to be one of a kind, individuals want to feel like products have been personalized just for them.  Do you have products in your shop where personalization can be applied?  Can customers choose the colors, add a name, etc.?  If not, can any of your designs be adapted to allow for this customization?

#11 – Healthy Life

Striving for a healthy lifestyle is becoming even more prevalent as consumers are gardening, removing processed foods, and exercising more.  For any shops that have products that support a heathy lifestyle, ensure that those messages are coming through. Many EcoEtsy shops also have the opportunity to communicate products that are organic and toxin free.

#12 – Try it Out

For brands with a product that you can “test”, sampling is bigger than ever.  Customers are looking to test a product before they invest in the purchase.  Do you have any sampling plans in place this year?  Getting your product in the hands of your target can definitely get the buzz started.

Summary

Trends are emerging around the world everyday.  Hopefully, these 12 can inspire some new ideas for your business.  The next time you are out and about your downtown, watch and see if you can discover some local trends of your own.  Have you implemented any business changes based on trends?  If so, we would love to hear them here!

The beautiful vinyl purse in the post photo is from the awesome EcoEtsy shop – ReinventedVinyl.

This post was written by

DrinksToDesign – who has written posts on Eco Etsy.
I'm a Marketing Strategist by day and an Upcycling Jewelry Designer by night. I love the opportunity to blog for the EcoEtsy team and bring a bit of my "day job" experience and ideas to this great community! I hope that each post I write provides you with a bit of inspiration to move your business forward.

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