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Everyone in the consumer packaged goods industry is well aware that consumer behavior and trends can change at a pace that can be difficult to keep up with, and although no one could have predicted the dramatic changes 2020 ushered in for the world. The pet industry reached a all-time high of $103 billionand fueled by increased consumer interest in products targeting immunity and general wellness, pet supplement sales skyrocketed 21% in 2020 to nearly $800 million, according to Packaged facts. Then, The smart insights also reported that the global pet supplement market is expected to continue to grow to $9.65 billion by 2030. So for our pet food and care brands at H&H Group, Zesty Paws and Solid Gold Pet, that meant we absolutely had to take note of these trends, stay innovative and curious and stay one step ahead of our competitors.
By not only looking at these trending moments, but also closely monitoring them for valuable data insights and growth opportunities, companies across every industry can devise innovative ways to stay ahead (and the competition). Here are four strategies you can use:
Related: How to Stand Out from the Competition
1. Trust your retailers and your consumers
One strategy is to listen to both your customers and consumers. It is important to have good working relationships with your retailers because they are the ones on the front lines of the ever-changing market fueled by your consumers’ trend-based purchasing decisions. By learning more about what these key stakeholders are hearing, seeing and being affected by, companies can stay on top of consumer behavior. I’ve seen companies spend millions on tactics to decipher the “why” behind purchasing decisions, and while market research is an extremely valuable tool, I believe you get feedback faster by leveraging what’s already at your fingertips: your people.
When it comes to your consumers… listen. Whether that’s through setting up a founding club or ambassador program, collecting customer reviews or hosting focus groups, getting feedback on product innovation, brand initiatives and other programs can positively influence future business decisions and give you an edge. keep up with the competition.
2. Be data-driven in your approach
Collecting data about your customers and consumers and using that findings to create better products is another age-old strategy, but what’s new in the arena is the way data is collected. From proprietary data or public data sources to market research reports and segment analysis reports, all kinds of data help draw attention to what customers want, what and when they buy, as well as what your customers’ unmet needs may be. Understanding that data can really help define your niche space against competitors.
I highly recommend subscribing to market research reports and trade publications in your industry to access current data. You’ll get in-depth analysis and insights from the reports and substantial highlights from industry publications, and both are valuable in evaluating your next move and spotting trends. If you can combine the analyzes with your instincts and experience, the right combination is to innovate.
Related: Listen to Your Customers: Turn to Data to Uncover Their Truth
3. Bet to be curious
Think about what excited you as a consumer. How have you been involved as a customer? With social media, advertising, e-commerce, retail, etc., today’s business market can be completely oversaturated with options, so creating a strategy focused on innovation, which requires a long-term commitment to curiosity, is one way to stay ahead of competitors.
“Curiosity drives innovation. It’s an impulse to pursue a thought, find a solution, seek out new possibilities, or stay on a path to see what’s nearby,” wrote Sarah Austin, a fellow contributor to the londonbusinessblog.com Leadership Network and three-time enterprise-backed startup founder.
I’ve worked with business leaders ranging from entrepreneurs just starting their businesses to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and I’ve seen innovation as the key factor in setting their companies apart from others in the industry.
Related: 7 Ways to Boost Innovation and Outperform Your Competition
4. Distinguish your brand from the bandwagon
Differentiation is another key to staying ahead of the curve, but few companies are putting this into practice successfully. Knowing your business’s differentiators, be it pricing, a niche product, or a unique brand story, will help you create a strategy to cut through the noise of the competitive market.
One way to find out what makes you different is to create a value proposition that allows you to position your product or service around your customers’ needs in a unique way that only you can deliver. Find out why your customers keep coming back, what your business does better than anyone else, and why someone should do business with you or buy your product. Then deliver it to every touchpoint in the customer experience. For example, Zesty Paws was able to gain a foothold in the pet supplements category because we took a more unique and fun approach to a market that felt “medicinal” and rigid in the past. When Zesty Paws broke into the pet supplement space, there were top products and pills, but we saw an opportunity to create an edible, soft chew format to change the way both pet parents and pets thought about daily supplements. and it worked.
So if it feels like your company is always looking for the next big thing, you’re probably doing something right. Innovative companies that find ways to stay ahead of trends often become trendsetter themselves and ultimately set themselves apart from the competition.