You may not like “trendy” fashions, cars, jewelry or hairstyles, but you will want to know what trends are coming down the pike, if for nothing more, than to prepare your own business for what customers are thinking about and buying.
Marketing forecasters say three of the big trends for 2016 will be (1) adding smoke flavor in everything from cocktails to butter; (2) selecting small plates of food and appetizers instead of choosing large main meals; (3) utilizing herbs, wild botanicals and edible flowers in food and beverage choices.
While these three trends may not necessarily fit with your business model, they point to some interesting consumer selections. Always searching for the next taste enhancement, chefs and foodies are combining the tastes of craft brews and barbecue into the “smoke craze” that replaces sweet and sour, hot and tangy with rich smokiness. But taste is just one layer of this particular trend. It is as much about satisfying the experience as much as satisfying the palate. Marketers used to call this “selling the sizzle with the steak,” or creating the ambiance and experience along with the purchase. Customers want to experience a complete set of parameters around any given moment or decision. This is demonstrated by the social media experiences launched after a sale of anything from a new coffee maker to a bottle of reserve wine. People upload photos, share experiences, explain their purchases and forecast how they will use the goods and services they have chosen. This instantly gets translated to a host of family, friends and followers who take note of the entire process.
As producers we need to think about what we offer in the overall experience. If you have the best quality produce, wine or Christmas trees, but your surroundings only encourage people to leave soon after they arrive, you are missing a vital piece of sales strategy. Well-kept grounds, nicely-appointed tasting rooms, service with a smile and making the customer feel attended to and special create the environment that enhances a customer’s feeling about the destination, experience and the sale.
Communal attachment remains a part of our being – we want to feel as if we belong to and share with people in our own circle of family and friends. The trend of sharing small plates equates to sharing communal meals and experiences. Instead of filling ourselves with big, over-large and singular meals, what we are really saying is that we want to be included in the discussion as well as the meal.  We want to know what others think of our choices and evaluate if that fits our own take on things or if we are thinking way outside the box. If you acknowledge this trend of sharing thoughts (and food in some cases), you will see that the new trend of going together with others to purchase goods and services is part of a larger movement toward not owning everything, but partnering with friends and families in large purchases, or renting/bartering as means of having what you want, but only when you need it. For producers that might mean offering shares of livestock and livestock products, offering a communal kitchen where customers can add value to your produce, or inventing ways that your product or service can be utilized by sets of people instead of through individual sales.
And, then there is adding flowers and fronds to pitchers of drinks and finding new ways to cook and decorate with edible wild plants and herbs. In other words, we want to add some spice and beauty to normal fare. This challenges producers to think about new ways in which everyday products are transformed into something special. Creating visual attraction at your farmers market stand, or blogging with photos about new ways to use products accentuates how your product or service transcends everyday uses. As you begin to picture beyond just the product itself and look to what it could enhance, you may well develop new sparkling trends that set you apart.
Consumers like new trends because trends spell change or a “different take” on an existing idea. To experience something new and exciting keeps buyers interested in what we have to offer. We may think of it as the same product year after year, but how we choose to deliver it is an important piece of overall sales strategy.
You may not like a particular trend, or trends in general, but without taking into account what customers are talking about, sharing with others and keeping them excited is to throw aside essential marketing advice that just might make a difference in your operation!
The above information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be substituted for professional business or legal counseling.