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Executive Takeover: How to stay ahead of trends

A Trend, by definition is: “A general direction in which something is developing or changing’.

Retail is one such industry that seems to change at quite a rapid pace and it is something that is influenced by retail businesses, suppliers, research and development departments and in some cases the consumer themselves. How therefore can we possibly keep up with the changes?

One such way is to be aware of what he’s going on around you. This simply isn’t process of tracking every trend and fad out there, it is more about being aware of where your business sits in the market place, what your business provides and to who and where you see your business in 3 to 5 years’ time. The marketplace is always evolving and while some trends are fast-paced, others have a more conservative speed to them. In order to fully capitalise on any trend within your “sector” you need to be mindful of the agility of your business and what you want to achieve with it. Many of the new trends that appear, often from research and development laboratories, are so far ahead of the curve that your business may not be able to keep up let alone catch up with what is being proposed and to even try to do so could be commercial suicide. The disconnect I have spoken about in previous pieces, in relation to customer and retailer interactions, stands true but it comes to retailer and supplier relationships. Nike famously developed the Nike Free, from R&D research around the perceived benefits of “bare running”, and it spawned a whole sub-culture of running around it. This however was short lived, but left in its wake many retail and brand casualties. The reason? The brands pushed an idea, via a marketing plan, that was wildly off the mark in terms of what the consumer wanted and indeed needed. They allowed the trend to lead them and the retailers were persuaded that this was the next big thing. For the retailer, rather than looking at whether it was ‘right’, they allowed reason and more importantly understanding of their market place to fly out of the window. In this case they were not ‘free’ of the persuasion of the brands. To be ahead of trends, you need to see where the trend is going and to be really honest if it is for you and your business. The old adage, “keeping your ear to the ground” is important, but so is keeping one eye on the horizon. By being alert and agile you can manoeuvre when the wave starts, but also get off it when the rocks are glimpsed on the horizon.

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