Last Updated Sep 28, 2010 12:28 PM EDT
There's an old saying that a rising tide lifts all boats, meaning if you can latch on to a growing trend, you can accelerate the growth of your start-up just by being in the right place at the right time.
I recently asked Toronto-based trendspotter Jeremy Gutsche for his advice on emerging trends for entrepreneurs to tap. And Gutsche should know. He is the author of Exploiting Chaos and founder of TrendHunter.com, a business that tracks emerging trends for customers like Google, Pepsi and Cadbury. Based on my conversation with Gutsche, here are three trends to take advantage of now:
Trend #1: "Next-Besting"
Trend Hunter has found that "the recession has restricted the ability for some to indulge in certain goods, but a variety of alternatives are popping up to semi-satisfy those desires. Consumers are becoming more creative and open-minded, actively seeking ways around restrictions and becoming open to budget-friendly compromises."
Trend Hunter points to Tom Binns, Michelle Obama's unofficial "first jeweler," as an example of an entrepreneur tapping into the next-besting trend. Binns created Faux Real, a line of costume jewelry that gives cash-strapped fashionistas a cheaper alternative to the real thing.
Trends #2: Tangible Personalization
Trend Hunter says, "The personalization of goods offers a superlative novelty factor as it adds profound relevance to individual consumers. Adding a custom touch, particularly with products that have become popular or widely used, can make items more covetable than those offered by the competition by offering a feeling of augmented ownership."
For example, Japanese toymaker Bandai will make you into an action figure. You send a headshot, and the company will emblazon your image on a muscle-bound, superbike-riding action figure.
Trend #3: Rental Culture
Trend Hunter has found "the recession has turned temporary ownership into a huge business opportunity. Whether it's a trial before investing in something pricey, a taste of something unaffordable or the ability to fake status, rentals cater to those who want it all but can't afford it."
For example a French company called Dim Dom rents baby toys to grandparents who have their grandkids coming to stay with them for a holiday. And Maslow Art Group will rent you a $10,000 painting for that big customer dinner party you're hosting.
Whether you're looking for a new business idea or just want to accelerate the growth of your existing business, tapping into growing trends can ensure you're sailing downwind. What trends are you watching?
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John Warrillow is the author of Built to Sell: Turn Your Business into One You Can Sell. He has started and exited four companies and was named one of America's most influential marketers by BtoB Magazine in 2008. Think you can sell your business? Take the Sellability Index Quiz.
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