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How to research trends in your industry

Change is inevitable. Every industry is changing and with the advent of the internet, this change is happening faster. Therefore it is critical for the success of your business to be aware of the trends which are happening in your industry. Here is how you can research the trends in your industry and the environment within which you operate.

1. Read industry research and trend reports

One of the basic requirements is to read reports done by industry leaders. Often this research is original and current. By looking at these reports, you see which trends may affect your business. If you follow specific reports over time, it is important to look at the trend they have previously mentioned and see how they have affected your business. You can find reports by the IDC on different industry sectors in South Africa. ResearchWorld offers reports about global trends that may have an impact on your local environment.

2. Follow industry influencers and publications

If you struggle to read long-wind reports, you can follow industry influencers and publications and see what they have to say about the reports which have been released about trends in your sector. They often summarise these reports into easily digestible forms of information. Bizcommunity is a great website to get general insights on trends in business in South Africa.

3. Use different online tools to see where trends are heading

You can use Google trends to see how your industry ranks in searches. You can learn more about Google Trends here. You can also use Feedly to get up to date information from various websites you may be following.

4. Ask your customers questions

It is important to send out surveys periodically to your customers to see how they view your product and industry. You may get some useful insight on trends. The surveys may also highlight areas in your business which could be improved or additional products which you could add to your product line.

5. Network

You should attend conferences and trade shows which are related to your business. These networking opportunities will highlight the trends in your industry as well as give you an opportunity to see what the competition is doing and to see if there is a gap in the product offering which you could fill.

6. Build a group of advisors

Find people in business who you can discuss the current trends in business with. They will be able to highlight trends you may not have considered and you may help them to see areas that they should look into. By talking to your advisors on a monthly basis, you can build a group of people who help to build each other’s businesses.

When you have done your research on trends in your industry, it is important to analyse how this trend will influence your business. Here are four questions to ask when you are reviewing a trend.

1. What impact will this trend have on your business and our industry?
2. What impact will this trend have on our environment (our customers, legislation, etc)?
3. What major changes could this trend introduce?
4. How should we react to this trend?

By going through these questions, you will be able to run a successful company that can adapt to change while it happens rather than catching up to it.

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