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a global outlook: anticipating future trends and learning from past success

Whether you’re a well established brand or new on the scene, you’ve probably analysed the environmental factors of the market sector in which you operate. We’ve definitely all engaged in the all-too-familiar SWOT analysis at some point. This practice is valuable as it informs our business strategies and decisions. Regrettably, this analysis is often exclusively based on the conditions that are currently prevailing. In other words, the inferences do not consider all past events and possible future activity.

An examination of the present alone offers a rather limited context from which to make deductions. This framework is characteristically restrictive and therefore can’t present the data needed for a given brand to become revolutionary. No, a far more nuanced examination is required to become timeless - one that is both historically and futuristically orientated.

Simply put: in order to stay relevant, you have to learn from past success and anticipate future trends.

How much can we really know about the future? It may seem like a far-reaching, perhaps even unrealistic goal at first glance however, we can certainly derive accurate predictions after comprehensive forethought and scrutiny.

This globalised, multi-faceted perspective involves deducing new tendencies and patterns to inform your product positioning and messaging.

If you haven’t learnt how to crystal gaze or read residual tea leaves yet, never fear; there are several practical exercises that can be performed to this end:

  1. Take note of merging industries. Partnerships present the added benefit of capitalising on the strengths of two brands and reaching more than one demographic. In addition, customers are inclined to try a product that has received affirmation from another trusted brand.
  2. Gain insight from your competitors. Don’t think of this approach as crafty or devious, as you don’t necessarily have to implement exactly the same ideas. The process may simply spark an innovative thought for your own brand.
  3. Reflect on past strategies and campaigns that have worked well – not only in the history of your own brand but for other businesses with similar values. This can be used as a helpful framework from which to recycle and re-use ideas that have generated success in the past.
  4. Identify new markets before they emerge. By stringently observing consumer behaviour, you’re able to identify new markets of which to take advantage before they come into fruition. (It’s like the oracle of branding, basically).
  5. Regularly assess individual category performance. This will allow you to invest in practises that are serving you well and also enable you to determine when it may be time to pull the plug on a project that is not yielding fruitful results.
  6. Adopt an assertive approach. This enables you to pre-empt a challenging situation rather than idly hoping that your luck may turn. It involves reflecting on all the spheres that may be affected by your processes and communication. Yep, you have to assess your entire production line, from its inception to its completion.

Trend forecasting is certainly a worthwhile undertaking for those who intend to improve their business strategy and thankfully, it won’t require any palm reading.

The greatest advantage? You’re no longer at the mercy of unpredictable circumstances - whether it’s a fluctuating economy, a lousy tax increase or unfavourable weather conditions. Arguably the most exciting part of brand building is finding inventive ways to make challenging conditions work in your favour. By implementing these strategies, you’ll determine a part of your future success by actively participating in it.

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