How to identify market trends for long-term business planning

Keeping pace with market trends is never easy – day-to-day you’ve got a business to run, after all.

However, it’s important to acknowledge that industry is ever-changing and in order to stay ahead of the curve and avoid competitors passing you by you need to be able to move with the times for the benefit of long-term business planning.

Market trend analysis needn’t be as scary as it sounds. It’s simply the comparison of industry data over a set time period, designed to recognise any consistent trends or results that could be used to map your business strategy – aligning it with the general direction of your industry.

Market trends tend to be heavily influenced by consumer habits and behaviours. By carrying out the following types of industry trend analysis you’ll be able to determine the moves that could have a direct impact on your overall business performance:

Keep track of industry influencers and publications

As a busy entrepreneur, being pressed for time is by no means a rarity! We don’t always have the time or head space to be able to read through every interesting thought leadership article within our respective industries, so how can we keep track of industry developments? Social media is a powerful tool to keep track of industry influencers, their points of view and ensure you remain part of the conversation.

Absorb up-to-date industry research and trends reports like a sponge

To get a real picture of your industry landscape and determine the direction it is heading in, you really need to be reading up on the wealth of industry reports readily accessible to you. At the British Library’s Business & IP Centre, we house more than £5m worth of online market reports from top publishers such as Mintel, Frost & Sullivan, Euromonitor and many more, as well as up-to-date sector and company data for over 144 million UK and global companies.

Did you know? Entrepreneurs based in London can tap into this exhaustive resource for free with a British Library Reader Pass.

Make the most of digital tools and analytics to assess industry behaviour

If you’re a bit of a nerd when it comes to numbers, you’ll love the wide variety of analytical tools and systems available at your fingertips. It’s great because you can let these tools do all the legwork for you to help you understand the bigger picture of your marketplace much more quickly.

Digital analytics can help you discover trends increasingly searched for by consumers online. For instance, Google Trends displays a long-term overview of niche trends while Google’s Keyword Planner allows you to search the most popular keywords used by your target demographic online and the potential scale for using and bidding on them for your business as part of a digital advertising campaign.

Listen to your customers

It pays to talk to your customers. After all, they are the ones that help put food on the table! Don’t be afraid to have a chat with them and learn more about their pressure points to discover what more your business can do to help them.

Regular quantitative surveys of your existing customer base or – if you’re a completely new start-up – your target market could provide valuable insight into possible changes in their behaviours and needs.

Competitor observation

Most successful businesses don’t follow the crowd; they innovate and break new ground in order to stand out from the noise. However, observation of your competitors can often give you a good picture of their market positioning and whether they are reacting to what could be seen as an emerging trend. Competitor analysis doesn’t have to cost the earth. By simply reviewing their website, customer reviews and social media channels it is possible to understand how you compare to your competitors.

At the Business & IP Centre we’ve helped hundreds of entrepreneurs across London and beyond achieve business success. With free access to a comprehensive collection of business data we can help you make informed decisions about the development of your business ideas. To learn more about our Centre, make sure you sign up to our Introduction to using the Business & IP Centre.

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