Performing Industry Trend Research In Digital Marketing
Trend research is key to positioning a brand, a leader or innovator on a market. The study includes trends related to consumer behavior, employment, technological advancements, new product development, competition, government norms and other factors that impact the industry.
Industry trend analysis enables a company to develop a competitive strategy that best defends against the competitive forces or influences them in its favour. The key to developing a competitive strategy is to understand the sources of the competitive forces. According to the Porter’s 5 Forces, an industry is influenced by customers, suppliers, substitutes and potential entrants — collectively referred to as an extended rivalry — and are competitors to companies within an industry.
- Industry rivalry (degree of competition among existing firms)—intense competition: leads to reduced profit potential for companies in the same industry
- Threat of substitutes (products or services)—availability of substitute products will limit your ability to raise prices
- Bargaining power of buyers—powerful buyers have a significant impact on prices
- Bargaining power of suppliers—powerful suppliers can demand premium prices and limit your profit
- Barriers to entry (threat of new entrants)—act as a deterrent against new competitors
The role of industry trend research is to understand the movement within these forces, to prepare and ultimately be able to predict their direction in order to adapt a strategy that will strengthen the company’s presence on the market.
These are examples of some insights that can be uncovered while doing industry trend research. Imagine you are working for a company that produces frozen meat burgers. You have seen your sales declining a little bit in the last few years and want to understand how the market is performing and what trends are arising in order to gain back your market share.
You come across qualitative data about consumer’s new food choices and needs. While the problem might be: I want to eat when I am hungry and was usually solved by: a quick, premade, cheap dinner.
Now consumers seem to be more attentive to the quality of their food and want to solve the problem with: buying nourishing, local, and nature-friendly food. Now, how does the frozen burger company stand on these new values and needs?
This type of data, after closer analysis, might show that investing in the health, vegetarian, wholefood market through the development of a new range of home-cooked, vegetarian burgers will increase profit by X percent. By listening to the market demand, and upcoming trends, your company will be able to understand their current situation but also take decisions to solve their own challenge and the business objectives. This can impact product development, business decisions, as well as marketing.
In view of these trends, the digital marketer might decide to run a campaign under a new concept for the same product by emphasizing a message based on the source of their ingredients, i.e. are the burgers 100% grass-fed beef? In this case they should add extra information in their Tweets or blog post. Start Tweeting about environmental issues to align with the audience’s interest and generate traffic and give advice on how to live zero waste and so on.
Industry trend research can be accessed through many different platforms but each one does not provide the same quality of data in the same timeframe.
#1 Social Media Monitoring as part of industry trend research in digital marketing
By identifying the density of conversation on social media you can find trends and insights where consumers are looking and what they want next. Tools such as TweetDeck, Google Trends and Twitter trending topics can help you identify the patterns online to see what is trendy at the moment and find this information directly from the voice of consumers.
This is a reliable source of instant trend information, while being a reactive approach, as you might find a trend once it is already out. In addition to this, the conversation might be influenced by current events, buzz and high community engagement and won’t provide information on the quality of the trend mentioned.
#2 Market Research Reports as part of industry trend research in digital marketing
Most industry trend research studies are conducted by research firms that have the resources to survey, interview and analyze trend data and then make actionable reports. Some examples of online companies that provide regular free insights on industry trends are Euromonitor, Emarketer, Qualtrics, Nielsen, Crimson Hexagon and PWC.
The advantage of such a method is the availability of the data and the quality of the data, as these types of research are generally made on a large scale that is statistically more accurate. On the other hand, as this data is available to almost anyone, free reports might mention trends that will be strongly competitive. Requesting reports from research firms specifically for your company can be a way to find trends that are more granular and resonate with your target audience.
#3 Academics Research as part of industry trend research in digital marketing
Individuals that look at the market and think about its potential evolution are great sources of predictive trend research. Scholars studying specific behavior by using hard data, theory, and testing can develop insights into what the future of an industry will be like.
Therefore, they are a great source of predictive analysis that can provide insights into the development of the digital marketing strategy. Many websites exist providing scholarly research, you can find research on any of the greatest universities, such as MIT, Harvard, Oxford, etc., but also through scholarly databases such as Google Scholar or Base.
#4 Search Analytics as part of industry trend research in digital marketing
Keywords are fantastic indicators of trends, much like the stock market, you can look at the keywords that are on the rise and bet on their evolution and the insights that they can provide on what your customer is looking for at the moment. If we take our previous example of frozen burgers, maybe the keyword most used to find that information was ‘frozen meat burgers’, but now a new keyword might be rising as ‘vegetarian frozen burger’.
This can be an indicator of a new trend or need on the market that the company could position on. The main tools for analyzing keywords are Google AdWords and Google Trends, but other more comprehensive tools also exist such as the Amazon Keyword Trends tool or Wordtracker.
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