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Marketing Matters: Are You a Trend Watcher?

By: Donna C. Barson
Posted: August 28, 2008, from the February 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

When I was in elementary school one of my friends wanted to be a fortune teller—but often it’s me who feels like one since I am constantly on the lookout for what might be happening next in the personal care industry.

Can you spot a trend? You’d better hope so. Trends are an important part of the overall consumer sales picture for a marketer. The ability to spot or anticipate a trend can spell the difference between great success and abject failure. This is particularly true in the personal care industry, which frequently is driven by the latest or hottest trend. Of course, to anticipate or spot a trend, you have to know where to look—and that’s not as easy as it sounds. This isn’t called the Information Age for nothing. You’re awash in data that comes to you nonstop from a bewildering number of sources: newspapers, magazines, television, radio, the Internet, annual reports, research papers … all these and more can carry information about trends.

The challenge is to be able to analyze this information effectively and efficiently, and then make the right moves. Some companies can sift through this informational sandstorm and find the important nuggets swirling within the data. Others get buried by the sheer volume of material that needs to be analyzed and acted upon in a timely manner. They usually hire outside firms to do their trend-digging and analysis for them.

So what are some anticipated trends for the personal care industry in 2007?

The first has to do with men. All indications are that males are spending more and more time and money on personal grooming. Sales of men’s prestige skin care products for the first six months of this year totaled $32 million. This was a 3% increase over the same time period in 2005, and reflects a growing trend. (There’s that word again.)