Are you riding trends or are you setting them?
Even more importantly: have you even asked yourself that question lately?
Sure, it’s easier to jump on a bandwagon of the latest trend, but that’s not the entrepreneur’s way. The entrepreneur must seek to stand out in the crowd – a head above the rest. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
Think to yourself: When was the last time you heard/read/seen something that was setting a trend? When was the last time you were in a position to set the trend?
Recently, I’ve been struck by the amount and scope of trendsetting going on in the world. Have you noticed it too? I think it’s important to highlight these stories because they are so different from each other. It’s inspiring – reminding me that trendsetting can come in all shapes, sizes, and spheres. Paying attention to the different types of trends can help us pick apart what exactly it takes to be a trendsetter, no matter the business.
Trendsetting in Quality
CNN Money ran an article about Trader Joe’s, the crunchy grocery store chain known for their neighborhood-grocer feel and eclectic collection of food. The article states: “Trader Joe’s doesn’t pick up on trends – it sets them.” In their case, they set the bar of quality so high that customers don’t mind that the store has, say, only ten different kinds of peanut butter (as opposed to a regular grocery store’s 50 brands) because their customers trust that the quality of the product will be good.
- Ask yourself: How can I raise the quality of my product/service so that my customers trust me MORE?
Trendsetting in Innovation
FastCompany recently highlighted Nike’s newest innovation: the sock shoe – officially called, “Flyknit.” After interviewing athletes (in other words, their customer base), Nike found that what these customers wanted was a shoe that felt like a sock. Nike’s director of footwear innovation, Tony Bignell, explained, “A sock fits great, feels snug, goes unnoticed, and you get no irritation… So the idea was, how do you engineer a sock into a high-performance shoe?” In order to get this product to the shelves, Nike had to develop an entirely new way of engineering a shoe design. Just do it? Oh, they did.
- Ask yourself: How can my customers help me innovate things THEY want?
Trendsetting in Production
Yet another article from FastCompany highlighted what could possibly be the next wave of trendsetting in publishing. Alan Goldsher wrote and published an e-book on Jeremy Lin in 72 hours. That’s 15,000 words ready-to-read in 72 hours. I’m still scratching my head over the reality of this type of production (no doubt this guy has a Keurig station within arm’s reach), and I think it’s worth noting as more and more consumers will expect their products/services to be produced faster.
- Ask yourself: How can I produce my products/services in a more timely and efficient manner (without sacrificing quality)?
So why highlight these three types of trendsetting? If you emphasize the quality, innovation, and production of your service or product – and if you’re asking the right questions along the way – you’re on the right path to being a trendsetter.
There is, however, one more vital ingredient: selling to the right customer. You need to get your product into the right hands. When asked if one could predict what would become a new trend, Henrik Vejlgaard, author of Anatomy of a Trend, recommended looking to the major cities. Since we’re more focused on trends in marketing and business than in fashion, think to yourself: What are the “major cities” of your business that help spread products to other businesses? The vital customer/hub will be different depending on the business, but it’s your responsibility to figure out who and where they are, and into whose hands you need to get your product.
Although it can seem daunting to think about trendsetting in an age of Apple, Google, and Facebook, it’s important to stay on top of your business and try to be on the forefront of the next big trend.
- What other questions do you think are vital to becoming a trendsetter?
- What other inspiring trendsetting examples have you heard of recently?