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Column TwenteVisie: Spotting Trends with Real Life Market Insights
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01-09-2017

YOU CAN’T STOP THE WAVE, BUT YOU CAN LEARN HOW TO SURF

I enjoy listening to my son (14) as he talks about the latest trends at his school. What is in and what is out? What jeans are hot today and which pair of sneakers is an absolute must have? After dinner, we go online together and look at the rising popularity of jeans X, try to predict how long it will be before sneaker brand Y conquers the market and speculate about why everyone will want to have coat Z this winter.

Trends rise and fall at a dazzling rate. Anything that is hot today can be passé tomorrow. I am not just talking about fashion and retail, either. Everywhere I look, I see changing markets, fading borders and the rise of innovative business models. Technological developments have a nearly indescribable influence on how we choose, buy, live and work. We are online 24/7. Today, more than ever, the ball is in the customer’s court.

How can you know whether your business will be passé tomorrow? For the sake of convenience, we can use a surfing analogy. Trends move around the world in waves, as they have since the dawn of time. These days, however, waves follow each other much faster than ever before. As soon as you have conquered one wave, the next one will already be upon you. If you are not careful, one of these waves will hit you like a tsunami and you will go under. Believing that “it will all blow over eventually” will earn you a spot next to the V&Ds, Kodaks and Saabs of this world – exhaustedly lying on the beach, looking at the other surfers who did manage to stay on their boards. They see a new group of cool and smart surfer dudes who have mastered a different way of conquered the raging seas.

What should you do, then? Improve your surfing skills, buy a new surfboard or find a different hobby? We live in a complex age. Yet, we also have access to an unprecedented quantity of information about our market, our target audience and their specific needs, wishes and interests. External big data and unique, valuable and real-time insights are there for the taking. We all know this data is available, yet many entrepreneurs still hold the false belief that big-data analysis is a game for big players only.

I have been seeing an unmistakable trend for a while now: organisations that use the insights they gained from external big data to their advantage earn themselves an edge on the market. With Real Life Market Insights, we want to demonstrate that you do not have to be a data expert or trendwatcher or own a crystal ball to spot the next wave as it approaches. You do not have to be a multinational organisation to stay afloat in today’s business world – no matter how high the waves might be.