Would you like to take advantage of the latest consumer trends to help promote your products or services? Maybe you have an idea for a new business based on a current trend. But where do you start?

Trends come and go, some more quickly than others. You need to have a general idea of what is currently “in” and what the market can tell you about future trends. Some places to look for emerging trends:

Market research — using less formal, inexpensive methods may be the way to go

  • Social media — monitor consistently to pinpoint trends early on
  • Trade shows, networking — word of mouth is a quick way for trends to spread

If you decide to take advantage of a trend, be sure to do your homework on official certifications and labelling, and be transparent about your claims.

Here are a few different ways you could get a foothold:

  • See if additional labelling can allow you to match an existing trend

As a small fishery operator, you've heard that some potential customers are seeking out environmentally friendly, chemical-free foods. Your catch already has a reputation for being sold fresh, but you may also be able to label it as sustainable, organic and non-traditional (exotic) – all highly marketable terms.

  • Tweak product content to fit a trend

You buy all of the ingredients for your bakery, except the flour, from local producers.  If you could find a local mill to supply wheat flour and alternative grains, you could now label your breads as locally made, and expand your offerings to capitalize on the growing gluten-free trend. You might also consider producing artisanal breads — another consumer favourite.

  • Start a new business to get into a new segment first

You've noticed the growing popularity of food trucks in your area, but none of them are selling desserts. You also know that cupcakes are trendy. This might be a perfect opportunity to take advantage of a niche and offer gourmet sweets on the go.

Trends rarely move in a straight line, so it's important to monitor the consumer climate and adapt your business practices to keep your idea fresh. If you see that interest is fading, it may be time to tweak your operations, or change direction, so that you're not investing resources in something that's losing profitability. You need to continue to innovate to enjoy a competitive edge.