Trends (and how to take advantage of them)

  Hort Snacks - February 2018
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 Lots of the time in conversation, when people start to talk about trends, the conversation leans over towards fashion or food, or these days, towards technology. Your “average Joe” generally won’t be classified as a “trendsetter”, but plays a role nonetheless. A trend is defined as “a general direction in which something is developing or changing”, often associated with some object or tendency which a greater portion of the population picks up on and follows for a period of time; at least until the next trend current hits them.

Trends shift, change and happen all of the time. I’m not entirely sure who sets them. At times, I think it may well be a few groups of drunk/delusional monkeys housed in various regions of the world, but I can’t confirm that impression, only present evidence gained at trips to various malls.

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Whether a trend develops in our horticultural world, or in our other circles of life, we are affected by them, directly or indirectly. People can, should and do spend a fair bit of time each year, looking at and analysing trends. Why? It is because trends represent potential opportunities for increased customers, sales and products. At a practical level, taking advantage of trends can range from actually shifting your practices or product offering(s) to capture the trend advantage all the way over to making no change, but simply shifting your wording, advertising or how you present yourself and your operation so as to shine the positive light of the trend on yourself.

For example, if one of the predominant trends (at a high level) is healthy eating, then this represents a chance for industry to 1) produce an assortment of recognizably healthy products, 2) add additional “trendy” or novel products that are right at the front of the curve or 3) spend some time promoting the health benefits of the various things that you are doing (which translates into a message that consumers should purchase said healthy stuff from you). You could grow kale (yuck), suggesting that you are a champion trend-follower and epic, or you could continue to grow broccoli and promote the (known) health benefits of broccoli, along with 10 other edible things.

Trends can also represent increased costs, expenses or barriers to what we do, so recognizing the ramifications of trends on your operation is critical. Some of the diet trends or health fad information can actually hurt your business, if you service the diet-trend-following crowd. For example, a few years back, there was some “literature” that suggested that potatoes were starchy and bad for you, rather than being a great source of nutrients and a healthy part of a balanced diet. Without recognizing and countering this information with factual information, it might have meant a decline in sales.

In lots of ways, working in, around and over changing trends is mostly about representing you, your business and what and why you do what you do to others. In some cases, you might add on things from time to time, but really, you mostly just have to explain yourself, so people understand how you fit into the trends. It isn’t always easy to do, but by knowing and communicating with your customers, you can have a direct influence on how they fit you into their trend-following. Good luck.

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Robert Spencer.
This information published to the web on January 29, 2018.