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2013: Trends or Micro-burst Tidal Waves?

January 28, 2013 - Ernest Hohmeyer
Pontiffs this time of year love to talk about trends for the New Year.

I keep copies of the preceding year just to see how accurate they were.

A New Definition of Community?

I am still caught by an article in National Affairs, entitled The Transformation of the American Community by Marc Dunekelman. Our new “community” he suggests, is one where we are “choosing to invest more time and energy in keeping in touch with our closest friends and family members, and, on the other, in trading bits of information with people we do not know very well but who share some single common interest.”

The rise of “friend” networks and informal “likes” are taking time – and interest away from traditional community organizations. Further, it has me thinking are we becoming less tolerant of “other’s” views as we “cluster,” mostly on-line in “communities with people of similar “likes"?

That’s a Business Trend?

Even how entrepreneurial opportunities are talked about today has changed dramatically. It used to be you could read about how certain retail, service or manufacturing “sectors” were viewed as opportunities for the coming year. Traditional business types such as clothing stores, automotive repair shops, service and manufacturing “sectors” filled the business and industry magazines.

While these individual opportunities are still discussed, there is a new world of business opportunities that may not be what you think.

Last year, Entrepreneur magazine’s “11 Hot Startup Sectors for 2012: This Way Up” talked about “collaborative commerce,” customization, mobility and creativity as growing trends that are business opportunities (more info on-line at the ADE blog: December 17, 2011).

In their December 2012 issue, Entrepreneur ran a cover story “Trends 2013: 10+ Fresh Ideas, Directions and Technologies.”

My, have we come a long way in defining opportunities.

What’s the saying: “This car is certainly not like your Dad’s!” Check out this article. Here are a few excerpts:

“Collection Agencies” No not the one that collects your money – its data. “Big Data” as Entrepreneur describes it and turning it into applications you can use is becoming big business. IBM is quoted stating “2.5 quintillion bytes of data are born every day.”

Can’t relate to that?

Neither could I, so they go on to explain “enough to fill more than 531 million DVD’s – every day!

But here is a staggering fact about how we are becoming infatuated with information. According to IBM “…90% of the world’s digital information was produced over the last two years.” Can you imagine?!

“Big Data represents a transformation of the entire IT industry and a 300 billion to 500 billion wealth creation opportunity for entrepreneurs,” according to a San Francisco-based investment fund “Data Collective” quoted here. Wow, here comes the Borg!

The health care industry prominent in the North Country is becoming a key user of data according to the article and represents a key opportunity for entrepreneurs with this interest.

“American Beauty” Made in America is growing strong according to Entrepreneur. They quote a New York Times poll stating that “52% of the public thinks it’s ‘very important’ that products they buy are made in America.” An interest in green products is also spiking.

This is a good sign for local businesses who espouse local and green products.

“Re-imagining the Workspace” Of interest to us here is that “… More small and medium-sized businesses could very well decide to go without on the physical office front.” Further, “Nearly 6 million Americans work from home” according to the US Census Bureau cited here.

This is good news for our business recruiting efforts but not necessarily positive for office space that is a prominent part of our downtown building space.

Here is an interesting tidbit for our employers. According to this article “… Work spaces will come to evoke areas of the typical home…” where it is quoted later may include “… Entertainments zones, dining zones, even residential zones.”

This is related to Entrepreneur’s trend on “The Play’s The Thing” which is the “value of fun in the workplace and its contribution to the bottom line.”

“Skin Deep” Of interest in marketing our natural environment and wellness efforts is the apparent growing interest in “cosmeceuticals” defined as “personal care products with supposedly skin enhancing ingredients.” Growth will focus on “products advertising ‘active and natural’ ingredients” according to Entrepreneur. What better environment to market these businesses than from the Adirondacks?!

After all, even Tibet is mentioned as a place for exotic ingredients through its “Tibetan Snow Lotus” a “flower that survives in the Himalayas at 21,000 feet above sea level and 70° below zero.” C’mon can’t we produce something with this cold weather – “Adirondack Ice Block Skin Care”?!

Seriously, our Adirondack name could have significance to natural based products.

“Hot Damn” This Entrepreneur trend points to a growing interest in spicy food. Suggested here with meaning for us is that small companies have a chance to develop regional and national product lines. Dave DeWitt, producer of the annual National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show quoted here, believes that creating spicy products has the same appeal as craft beer: “It’s similar because it’s an industry in which people have a vision of a product that they want to create. So just like in microbrewing, people are using innovation as much as they can.”

“All Abuzz” This trend is about energy products like Red Bull where sales in this industry “surpassed 8 billion last year” according to Entrepreneur.

However, again using the Adirondack’s name for “natural-based” brands, there is also a growing trend in food energy products based on natural ingredients.

“The Balm of Trust” Another trend that may have relevance to us is where consumers are “simply seeking brands they can trust.” With an overabundance of similar products out there, consumers are reaching for those brands that are authentic and that they can relate to.

“It’s the emotional benefits that make you a brand and get you into people’s lives so they come back time and time again” according to Jim Joseph, branding expert and author of The Experience Effect for Small Business referenced by Entrepreneur.

Our independent small businesses are primed to earn the consumer’s trust as we can directly give that message to the customer. We deal with our customers and know how to relate to them.

There may be a new opportunity to create a “trust brand” that says that in our marketing to take advantage of this trend.

There are other trends in this article such as new lending opportunities and the rising phenomena of “digital doctors” that may be worth checking out in this Entrepreneur feature.

Change? What Change?

Things are changing so fast. The Harvard Business Review cover in November was “Change Faster.” In an article “Accelerate” by John Kotter he suggests businesses create a second operating system that deals exclusively with change. Wow!

Is it always good to change?

Or is the real question: Do we know what types of change are occurring as we debate the future of our communities and businesses and do we know how to deal with it?

We will talk more about some of these trends…


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