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Everyone in the consumer packaged goods industry is well aware that consumer behaviors and trends can change at a pace that can be difficult to keep up with, and while no one could have predicted the dramatic changes that 2020 will bring assume for the world. The pet industry reached an all-time high of $103 billion, and fueled by increased consumer interest in products targeting immunity and general well-being, sales of pet supplements soared a 21% in 2020 to nearly $800 million, according to Packed Facts. At the time, The Brainy Insights also reported that the global pet supplement market is expected to continue growing to $9.65 billion by 2030. So for our pet nutrition and care brands in H&H Group, Zesty Paws and Solid Gold Pet, this meant that we absolutely had to keep these trends in mind, stay innovative and curious and stay one step ahead of our competitors.
By not only keeping an eye on these trending moments, but following them closely for valuable data and growth opportunities, companies in any industry can find innovative ways to stay ahead of the curve (and the competition). Here are four strategies you can use:
Related: How to differentiate yourself 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 the trend-based purchasing decisions of your consumers. By learning more about what these key stakeholders hear, see and are influenced 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 a very valuable tool, I think you get faster feedback by leveraging what’s already out there at your fingertips: your people.
When it comes to your consumers… listen. Whether this is through establishing a founders club or ambassador program, obtaining customer reviews or holding focus groups, getting feedback on product innovation, brand initiatives and others schedules can positively influence future business decisions and keep you ahead of the competition.
2. Be data-driven in your approach
Collecting data about your customers and consumers and using those findings to make better products is another old strategy, but what’s new in the field is the way the data is collected. From proprietary data or public data sources to market research reports and segment analysis reports, data of all kinds helps highlight what customers want, what and when they are buying, as well as what the needs may be unsatisfied from your customers. . Understanding this data can help you really define your niche space against your competitors.
I recommend subscribing to market research reports and trade publications in your industry to access timely data. You’ll get in-depth analysis and insights from reports and highlights from trade publications, both of which are valuable for evaluating your next move and spotting trends. Being able to combine analytics with your instincts and experience makes for the right combination to innovate.
Related: Listen to your customers: Look at the data to discover their truth
3. Commit to being curious
Think about what excited you as a consumer. How did you relate as a customer? With social media, advertising, e-commerce, retail, etc., today’s business market can feel completely oversaturated with options, so creating a strategy dedicated to innovation requires a commitment to long term with curiosity, it’s a way to stay ahead of competitors.
“Curiosity drives innovation. It’s a drive to pursue a thought, find a solution, seek new possibilities, or follow the path to see what’s around the next bend,” wrote Sarah Austin, network contributor to entrepreneurial leadership and on three occasions. -startup founder with support.
Having worked with business leaders ranging from startup entrepreneurs to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, I’ve seen that innovation is what sets their companies apart from others in the industry .
Related: 7 Ways to Ignite Innovation and Beat Your Competition
4. Distinguish your brand from the cart
Differentiation is another key to staying ahead of the curve, but very few companies put it into practice successfully. Knowing what your company’s differentiators are, whether it’s pricing, a niche product, or a unique brand story, will help you create a strategy to break through the noise of the competitive marketplace.
One way to find out what makes you different is to build a value proposition that helps you position your product or service around your customers’ needs in a unique way that only you can offer. Find out what keeps your consumers coming back, what your company does better than anyone else, and why someone should do business with you or buy your product. Then provide them at every customer experience touchpoint. For example, Zesty Paws was able to establish itself in the pet supplement category because we took a more unique and fun approach to a market that has historically felt “medicinal” and rigid. When Zesty Paws entered the pet supplement space, topicals and pills were prevalent, but we saw an opportunity to create a soft, edible chewable format to change the way parents and pets felt about supplements newspapers, and it worked.
So, if your business seems like it’s 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 trendsetters themselves and ultimately set themselves apart from the competition.