Social and Consumer Trends

Not all businesses have to concern themselves with social and consumer trends. Some

businesses, and this would include many small businesses, operate in a relatively stable

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environment and provide a standard good or service. The local luncheonette is expected to

provide standard fare on its menu. The men’s haberdasher will be expected to provide mainline

men’s clothing. However, some businesses, particularly smaller businesses, could greatly benefit

by recognizing an emerging social or consumer trend. Small businesses that focus on niche

markets can gain sales if they can readily identify new social and consumer trends.

Trends differ from fads. Fads may delight customers, but by their very nature, they have a short

shelf life. Trends, on the other hand, may be a portend of the future. [9] Smaller businesses may

be in a position to better exploit trends. Their smaller size can give them greater flexibility;

because they lack an extensive bureaucratic structure, they may be able to move with greater

rapidity. The great challenge for small businesses is to be able to correctly identify these trends

in a timely fashion. In the past, businesses had to rely on polling institutes for market research

as a way of attempting to identify social trends. Harris Interactive produced a survey about the

obesity epidemic in America. This study showed that the vast majority of Americans over the age

of 25 are overweight. The percentage of those overweight has steadily increased since the early

1980s. The study also indicated that a majority of these people desired to lose weight. This

information could be taken by the neighborhood gym, which could then create specialized

weight-loss programs. Recognizing this trend could lead to a number of different products and

services.

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