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A few weeks ago, we pointed out that as a brand, you can translate weak signals from your consumers and popular culture into an effective marketing strategy. The process has two phases, the first we discussed in our previous blog post, the observing of weak signals. We called this: trend spotting. But what about the second phase? This we call: trend translation.
Trend translation, as defined by Sevendots, is the proactive approach to enacting marketing plans that utilize a brand’s intelligence regarding weak signals in popular culture. Brands that proactively anticipate future market trends and ride those trends like a surfer on the cusp of a massive wave will contribute to popular culture itself. In other words: brands actually have the power to catapult weak signals into full-blown trends. Rather than taking the passive approach, which entails allowing the trend to form independently, the active approach isn’t just anticipating the trend, but actually cashing in on the trend before it has even reached its peak. This way, a brand appears to be setting the trend. Because brands that appear to be trendsetters are perceived as cool and trendy, this beautiful illusion is one of the keys to maximizing brand growth.
Here are some of Sevendots’ tricks of the trade in optimizing brand growth through trend anticipation:
Value the Short & the Long
Analyze both short and long term consumer and market trends & anticipate how they will impact your business. It’s paramount that one asks himself whether or not it is worthwhile to invest in a budding trend. When something is just ‘hot’ for a brief moment, the cost could be higher than the profit. This is something you don’t always know for sure. Look at Pokémon. The app was hot and trending for a few weeks, and all of a sudden nobody talked about it anymore. From hot to not blasted off at the speed of light. Still, taking risks is often beneficially. It is just extremely important to estimate whether something is worth it. Differentiate from competition. Capture the signals early on and shape future consumer demand. It’s like Steve Jobs’ philosophy: ‘You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new’. When it comes to being actively anticipating on trends, you need to think ahead.
Be Agile and Creative
Agility isn’t only important for football players and Olympic gymnasts. By catching the ‘good winds’ and quickly and creatively translating them into concrete brand opportunities, you’ll beat others to it and thus, you’ll have the upper hand in brand growth. For example, Apple has been successfully anticipating trends for many years. (The iPod as alternative for the MP3-player, the iPad as an alternative for the tablet, and the iPhone as an alternative for the Smartphone…etc.). In fact, Apple is perceived as so trendy, that everything with the Apple logo has become not just a product, but a cool, trendy accessory. In this sense, because of translating trends into brand opportunities, the brand has become a product itself. But remember, you don’t have to use every single trend in your own strategy. When the trend doesn’t comply with the image and goals of the brand, be confident enough to look for other developments.
Let Consumers Drive
If you want consumers to take you seriously, then you must take your consumers equally seriously. Rather than expecting them to follow your lead, put them in the driver seat. Instead of simply answering their questions and reacting to their comments on social media, take advantage of their vibrant opinions and eclectic knowledge. It’s always good to make your consumers feel like their opinion is important, and frankly is it. When you realize that, you’ll start seeing possibilities instead of problems.