Riding the waves of change. Here are 3 of our expert tips for staying ahead of the game

Published on
December 8, 2022
Elisha Dunn
Content Manager
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How can you keep riding waves and stay on top?

By now, scale-up leaders have learned that tuning into critical trends is key if they want to keep their business relevant and stay ahead of rivals. 

But they often overlook the more subtle (yet always profound) ways that these trends impact their customers’ goals, outlooks, and behaviours, especially with trends that are relevant or adjacent to their core markets.

This leads them to either develop product features and offerings that only marginally address a trend’s influence over clients, fail to incorporate trends into their innovation strategies, or stay on the sidelines and watch as competitors get ahead.

What business leaders need to do is to take on a more wide-ranging, strategic approach in figuring out how major trends can generate new value propositions that are relevant to their core consumers and beyond.

To build on this further, let us briefly look at three innovation approaches that will help scale-ups leverage trends and create new value propositions:

  • Incorporate and expand:

Incorporating the most compelling features of a major trend into a scale-up's existing product or service and expanding their offerings to address the needs and desires triggered by major trends without going beyond their core product categories (think: luxury brands creating more affordable collections to address profit losses from economic downturns)

  • Combine and go beyond:

Combining a scale-up's current value proposition with certain aspects of a major trend to create fresh offerings that address newly triggered desires, behaviours, and mindsets and go beyond their core product category (think: sports apparel companies partnering with tech brands to create digital health apps that help athletes and fitness enthusiasts keep track of their performance, progress, etc.)

  • Offset and reassert:

Offsetting the negative impacts of a major trend by developing new offerings that reassert the core product category's values (think: the trend of increased obesity in young video game players and the development of new video games that encourage players to be physically active)

Now, the million-dollar question is: How do you separate insignificant trends from the ones that can reshape your business and catapult you into the mass market? 

Here are 3 of our most used steps on how you can be more adept at studying and leveraging trends.


1) Stay on the trends that matter

This is the obvious first step. But only a handful of trends can significantly impact a customer’s goals, outlooks, and behaviours, which is why this step is so hard to do right.

A few questions that help us figure out the answer are:

  • Is this trend changing more than one area of our customers' lives?
  • If so, how radically do these changes impact our core customers' roles in society, personal or professional priorities, and short-term and long-term expectations?
  • Does this trend impact a small population of consumers in one market, or does it impact a significant number of people across different markets?
  • Are there signs indicating that this major trend will stay relevant for the foreseeable future?

It is important to note that this step is best done with cautious haste and with a strategic willingness to go beyond your target markets. Otherwise, you risk missing out on key opportunities, responding superficially, and waiting until it’s too late.


2) Adopt a 2-step research strategy

Much like doing A/B testings where you compare two versions of a copy, app, or webpage against each other to determine which one performs better, this step helps you:

  • explore the less tangible (but equally important) trend outcomes and 
  • determine how your own products/services are perceived and received by your customers.

For #1, ask yourself: Are my customers exhibiting any new goals, outlooks, and behaviours brought out by the trend? Are they forming new belief systems regarding their roles in society and how they interact within it?

As an example, the undeniable effects of global warming have shifted how the world goes about its purchasing decisions. 

Now, more than ever, eco-conscious buyers hold brands accountable for where they source and how they manufacture their products. They are growing suspicious of brands that align themselves with the green revolution but do not provide social proof. They bring their own eco bags (or reuse old ones) whenever they need to buy something from the store.

Clearly, people are forming new habits out of their concern for the environment, which is indicative of the green revolution’s enduring quality. So, pay attention to how each trend deeply affects people’s lives and look for ways to align your innovation strategies to reflect changing realities.

For #2, you are required to take a more internal approach. Are your current offerings perceived and received to your advantage? How do you know for sure? 

We recommend using more than one research approach to get to the truth, such as lead user interviews, open-ended questionnaires, focus groups, and discussion groups (making sure that your biggest markets are represented properly in every group).

For this step, also dig for any unwanted outcomes and shortcomings associated with the trends and your product categories.

As an example, we look to our client Vanessa Megan Skincare

Long before clean beauty became a trend, Vanessa Megan spearheaded the creation of skincare and perfume from natural, wild-harvested, and bio-available ingredients, making them the Australian pioneer and leader in certified organic skincare.

But as the skincare industry got bigger over the decades, so did the ill-informed, yet enduring trend about natural products being less effective than their synthetic counterparts. 

We were able to help Vanessa Megan challenge the growing negativity surrounding the clean beauty industry by championing the legitimacy of their value proposition and the efficacy of their offerings through strong educational and PR campaigns for ​​direct-to-consumer (D2C), business-to-business (B2B), and social media platforms.

This step helped Vanessa Megan achieve a 70% increase in D2C sales and a 49% increase in their online sales in just six months.

3) Analyse your results and pinpoint possible strategies

Now that you have a deeper understanding of the crucial factors within a major trend and your product category, the next two steps are to:

  • Figure out whether these factors relate favourably or unfavourably to your product category’s consumption experience (Is your product category’s consumption experience compatible with the trend you are trying to leverage, or do they present a disconnect or instability?)
  • Determine which of the three innovation approaches to adopt (Incorporate and expand, Combine and go beyond, and/or Offset and reassert).

Is your product category’s core value proposition still desirable to consumers impacted by the trend? If yes, adopt the Incorporate and expand approach to strengthen it further.

Is your product category presenting a disconnect or instability with your customers’ new goals, outlooks, and behaviours? If yes, adopt the Combine and go beyond approach to establish new common ground and compatibility/desirability.

Is your product category not aligned with the negative impacts of a major trend? If yes, adopt the Offset and reassert approach to curb these negative changes by reasserting your product category’s core values.

When it comes to trends, the real make-or-break challenge businesses face is knowing which ones to pursue in order to fast-track their brand toward the mass market and stay there for years to come.

Our team has successfully guided numerous scale-ups through various national and international trends and established their market positions in their respective industries. Partner with us if you want us to do the same for you.