January 2016
Follower or Leader?

Jeffrey Spear - President, Studio Spear

Jeff Spear

I’m always being asked about emerging trends. It seems that marketers are hungry to jump on the bandwagon of all things new - and to reap whatever rewards they can before the trend passes. What intrigues me is why there is such high regard for passing fads.


While I understand there is money to be made, and buyers are always asking for "what's new," trends come and go quickly. I believe that business success comes from sticking to core competencies, exploiting strengths to their fullest, and allowing for carefully managed and naturally occuring evolutionary growth.

Unless your company can easily re-tool in response to emerging trends, there could be significant start-up investments in terms of time and money that may not be available. Should the trend turn out to be short-lived, you could still be ramping up while consumers are heading elsewhere. Alternatively, and if you are able to act quickly, you may have to sacrifice quality (that comes from extensive research and development) in favor of responsiveness.

Remember the low-carb diet craze? While I’m sure there are plenty of people still buying those products, I doubt that demand is sustaining as many brands as it did a few years ago. Unless you are one of the survivors, the costs of product formulation, tooling, packaging, marketing, etc. are now just write-offs on a spreadsheet.

While you have to stay in the game and respond to competitor pressures, you may not have the resources to gamble on trends. I recommend you stick to whatever it is that you do best and do it even better. Instead of redirecting your attention as trends come and go, refine your go-to-market strategy. Get to know your key audiences better. Understand how they embrace your products, what they like and what they don’t, and do a better job of giving them the former. If competitive pressures are getting intense, find ways to position your company and your brands as far ahead of the pack as possible. Convert your product into a brand and your brand into a destination.

One of the nice things about our current financial situation (every cloud has a silver lining) is that your competitors are probably struggling to maintain brand visibility and marketshare. This is a perfect opportunity to take the lead. Rather than cut your marketing budgets, re-negotiate existing advertising and marketing contracts and/or invest in new promotional activities at more favorable prices. I’m sure your trusted creative service providers are feeling the pinch as well and will be eager to do whatever they can to help you succeed.

While trends may provide short-term gains, responding to them is not necessarily in your best interest. Should you feel they are, adjust your business model to include fast-response product development and go-to-market resources. Make it someone’s job to identify, gauge and respond to emerging trends. More importantly, implement accountability systems to track and maintain a healthy bottom line.

While some folks will blindly pursue whatever trend happens to emerge, effectively jumping into water before gauging its depth, I believe its a matter of maintaining a strategic approach, keeping an eye on the ball, knowing what’s best for your customers and what’s best for your business.


If the time has come to overhaul, update and re-invigorate your brand image, or you'd like to change up your marketing program, please call 904 685 2135 - ask for Jeff Spear. You can also contact Jeff via email: jeff@studiospear.com.

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