It’s never really a good look for a company to lag behind on business trends because it shows consumers they aren’t keeping their finger on the pulse. Modern-day consumers want companies to be proactive, and to be ahead of the curve on things like social and environmental issues. Consumers also want brands to be just as conscious as they are, if not leading as examples themselves.
Here are some of the ways organizations can keep with this year’s business trends.
- Lead rather than manage
The trend is shifting from performance management to performance leading since organizations want to be competitive and effective over the long-term. That is precisely what a good leader focuses on, and finds ways on how to make the overarching goal a reality, rather than pushing for short-term goals like quarterly sales numbers. What’s the point in striving for efficiency if your company becomes irrelevant after losing touch with what people want?
Companies with leadership experiment, innovate and grow with their customer base as opposed to guessing what they will want in the future without listening to them. People’s wants and needs are changing, and organizations that don’t adapt don’t survive. Does the story of Blackberry ring any bells? The first company to manufacture smartphones no longer makes smartphones at all because they got complacent and didn’t embrace change.
- Go green
Corporate environmental responsibility has become more and more critical over the years as fighting climate change becomes more important to people. The environment is a major concern for 73% of millennial consumers, who say they are willing to spend more on brands that take the environment into account in their business practices. Furthermore, brands that indicate their efforts to positively impact the environment on their packaging gets higher sales.
While making your company more eco-conscious is a beneficial change regardless, doing it solely for profit is disingenuous, and consumers will notice. Adapt new environmentally friendly initiatives for the right reasons and to help the planet recover from the damage done. Some green initiatives could include banning single-use plastics in office cafeterias, using energy efficient light bulbs and conserve energy whenever possible, and supporting local vendors. For more committed businesses, having solar panels installed is a great way to be more sustainable, as an example.
- Invest in technology
Technological advancements and innovations help shape business trends from their inception, so investing in technology seems like an intuitive move to make. Upgrades in organizational communication (i.e., moving from Skype to Slack) and streamlining and utilizing software to bridge gaps in logistical chains are two convincing reasons to stay in the loop with new and emerging tech. Smart lockers are one example of an outdated practice finding a new solution through innovation and technology. With e-commerce business booming and porch theft increasing, smart lockers solve the issue of packages not making it to their final destinations by offering a unique storage solution and dropping the failed delivery percentage to 0. These are the kinds of efficiencies innovation and experimentation can accomplish, and that makes a difference.
Other tech could boost faster speeds to satisfy your customer’s needs, help improve your logistics to be more environmentally friendly, help design and develop new, innovative products, or keep your business competitive. AI is a significant conversation starter and has been top-of-mind since 2018. Automation is creeping in to speed up and seamlessly complete time-consuming tasks and reduce human error. Businesses affected by this emerging tech should be keeping their ears to the ground in order to keep up with the curve.
- Personalize the shopping experience
According to an Epsilon research paper, 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand that offers a personalized experience. The appeal for personalization is high, as shoppers will purchase up to three times as much from brands providing personalized experiences. In order to stay on trend and remain competitive, businesses will need to jump on board and find ways to improve their customers’ experience while shopping with them.
In brick-and-mortar stores, personalizing someone’s shopping experience is more obvious – you can give them one-on-one attention and shop with them to offer suggestions or help find what they’re looking for. The e-commerce landscape changes the game a little bit and needs to be considered as a separate strategy from physical stores. Some ways to offer personalized customer experiences are to customize loyalty programs, explore RFID tags and branded apps to provide a cohesive multi-platform experience, and curate your sales and offerings to specific marketing demographics.
- Offer subscription-based services
Subscription-based services continue to grow in popularity with more and more brands offering a greater variety of products available. The convenience is unparalleled – consumers dictate their preferences, then once a month receive a package with a selection of product right to their door. There are so many companies offering this service, it might feel like the beginning of a saturated market, but growth remains steady, and niche subscriptions are holding just as strong as the ones with mass appeal.
One big factor in the popularity of the subscription box is the personalization factor. As stated above, personalized shopping experiences are critical for consumer satisfaction these days. The subscription style suits this perfectly, as each box feels like it’s tailored to the person who ordered it and based on their personal preferences, not what the company tells them to buy.
- Understand social media
Social media is here to stay. Every company needs a social media strategy even to exist nowadays because that’s where people turn to when they want to shop or use a service. Brands without good social strategies will continue to suffer, as Facebook, which owns Instagram, solidifies its spot as the world’s most popular advertising platform.
However, it takes more than just being present on social media – you have to understand how the algorithms work, where your audience spends their time, and what kind of behaviors they exhibit online before, during, and after purchases. You need to figure out what (or who) influences them and the trends they follow, so your brand can join the conversation. You also need to be transparent in these practices, as consumers can smell a pandering message from a mile away. It’s certainly worth taking the time to learn the ins and outs and all the tips and tricks of social media management and marketing in order to remain competitive and relevant.