Three Emerging Business Trends You Need to Be Aware Of
If you walked up to John D. Rockefeller, William C. Durant, William Fargo, or any other number of moguls from the early days of big business, and told them what it was like to operate a business in modern times, they would probably accuse you of being possessed by an evil spirit. I wouldn’t blame them. If you’ve studied history at all, you’d realize how astounding it really is just how far we have advanced as a species, in so short a time, and just how incomprehensible it would have been for these early pioneers to fathom what the word “business” entails in modern society.
Email communication. Online Sales. Digital marketing. These terms weren’t just unheard of 50 years ago - they didn’t exist. The Internet, for all of the changes it has brought into the world, has probably changed the business landscape more than an other aspect in modern commerce. Today, business owners, CEOs, shareholders, customer service representatives, sales professionals, and consumers all engage with each other, and complete their transactions, primarily in the digital domain. No longer are we limited by boundaries, either geographic or bureaucratic, nor do we have to rely on a telephone line to speak with each other. Today, we just click a mouse.
If you’re a business owner, you’re obviously aware of these changes, and may have done your best to take advantage of them. While all of these have been welcome changes, they’ve also resulted in a rapid shift in the way that businesses not only operate, but adapt to meet the demands of consumers, shareholders, and business partners. At times, it can be daunting to keep pace with these rapid changes, let alone use them to full effect.
But success in business has always been at least partially dependant on not only knowing the current state of the market, but being able to see where it’s going. Toys’R’Us’ recent filing for bankruptcy is just one example among many of what happens when a business doesn’t anticipate just how integral a new piece of technology, or a new concept, will become in making a profit.
As we prepare to transition into 2019, now is the perfect time to analyze some of the most dominant, emerging trends in business. These are shifts that will continue well after we flip the calendar, and will be monumental in determining who enjoys a phenomenal annual earnings call, and who will be left struggling to pay the bills.
The Shift Towards Online Retail
For the first time in history, since the Internet was made available to the general public, online sales and transactions have outpaced those of traditional brick and mortar sales. In the United States, 2018 saw more than 51% of all Black Friday sales generated online, while 49% percent were made through traditional checkouts in retail stores.
As Internet access continues to become faster, and more widely available, businesses across all industries are going to have to embrace the fact that they’ll never see the majority of their customers enter a storefront to buy their products. Now, more than ever, business must have an online store, and invest in it just as heavily as they do any marketing or sales department. Businesses will find that their company’s website is more than a resource; for many, it will become their brand ambassador.
Business as a Life Counselor
In the past, the general marketing strategy was to identify the #1 problem or desire that your product or service fixed or fulfilled, and customize your message about how your product worked to that end, in order to sell a single unit to consumers. While this concept will never go completely away, consumers today don’t want a one and done transaction that only satisfies their needs at that moment in time; they want a one stop shop that can cover as many different aspects of their life as possible. In short, they want a company that speaks to them directly, and that they can grow with.
That’s why you’ll see CEOs regularly posting updates on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media channels. It’s why you have successful entrepreneurs like Timothy Ferriss maintaining their own blogs, and divvying out pieces of advice to help young business owners, and established experts, improve their lives, while saving the good stuff for their books, lecture series, and exclusive member content to generate revenue.
It’s not just business, marketing, and sales advice either. You’ll regularly see retail chains that sell furniture, cleaning products, shoes, and any other product you can think of maintaining their own blog, and covering a wide range of topics. A furniture outlet might post tips about interior design, for example, while a running shoe company may post about improving your running cadence to increase your speed.
In short - businesses are starting to realize that it’s essential to connect with their consumers on an equal level, even if it is in the digital domain. To fully realize the potential returns, whether you’re a first time startup owner, or an experienced owner, you need to establish your personal online space, connect with your consumers, and show them that you may be a business owner who wants to make money, but you’re also a human being, and you care about them.
The Birth of the “eCelebrity”
Businesses have been partnering with movie stars, pop idols, and professional athletes to promote their products for decades now. The value of “star power” is something the business world has always recognized, and in many instances, capitalized on to great success. Recently, though, the types of celebrities having the most impact have never acted in a film, don’t play an instrument, and can’t shoot hoops to save their life - and they don’t need to. Instead, they use a computer, a webcam, and a whole lot of personality to achieve their influence.
Across social media, online personalities, or “eCelebrities,” have grown a massive following using nothing more than their own charm and everyman appeal to reach a diverse audience. These are people who host YouTube channels, Twitch streams, and Vine clips that reach millions on a daily basis, often when the creator is just going on a rant in their pajamas. The public at large has grown very weary of listening to the delusional rantings of what an out-of-touch movie star or a spoiled pop singer has to say, but they take the words of these DIY video stars to heart.
If businesses want to continue to appeal to the masses with their marketing partnerships, and take advantage of what these “influencers” can do for them, then they’ve got to start recognizing just how much influence these people truly have, and start tapping into that power.