If you are looking for new business start up ideas and are running short on inspiration a great brainstorming technique is to research emerging consumer trends. In the (bad) old days this involved reading extensive market research reports which were often produced infrequently and expensive to purchase. Whilst this kind of research is still very useful, the power of the internet has now given entrepreneurs alternative possibilities for researching profitable consumer trends.
Here are 3 top ways of tracking consumer trends for free:-
1. Consumer Trend Websites. Simply search the web for “consumer trends” to find these. There are many useful resources here including syndicated market research reports (e.g., trendwatching.com) and other sites which collect innovative new business ideas from around the world using people “spotters” who submit news on trends and new business launches as they see them (e.g., springwise.com).
2) Google Insights. Consumer trends will generally be represented by increased search volume on related terms in search engines. The free Google Insights tool (again search on this term to find the site itself) is incredibly useful in this respect. Simply enter the phrase into the text box at the top and click search. You’ll immediately be presented with a chart which will indicate whether there is rising or falling interest in your chosen topic as well as predictions for how the trend will develop in the future! It is also very useful to note if there are any seasonal trends occurring (type in “Christmas” to see a great example of this!). Also, pay attention to the “Rising searches” which are displayed at the bottom right of the page which are also helpful in indicating profitable new business opportunities going forward. You can even select the specific geographical region (e.g., United States), sub-region (e.g., Utah) and metro area (e.g., Salt Lake City) to check if people are becoming increasingly interested in a particular topic or trend where you live! As an example to get used to the system, why not find out if people in your local area are becoming more or less interested in “dog walking services”?
3) Twitter. This is useful for much shorter consumer trends but still invaluable if you are struggling (say) for a timely and relevant subject to write about on your business website’s blog. The “Trending” tool allows you to see the most talked about topics in your local area. In addition, the search facility on the main Twitter homepage will let you discover exactly what people are saying on a chosen topic. Try adding a “?” in your search to find users which are tweeting questions.