TREND ANALYSIS AND CONVERGENCE OF TRENDS
The world hasbeen evolving and characterized by notable changes such astechnological advancement over the centuries. Likewise,organization’s experiences changes throughout its life from bothits external and internal environment. The future of any organizationwill not be the same as its past it may be worse or better. Gratton(2010) recommends organizations to analyze trends in its environment.Jahangirian M. et al. (2011) describe trend analysis as theprocess of studying and comparing an organization over a period oftime. Trend analysis paints the direction of change in performance ofthe organization by pointing out the improvements, developments,deterioration or constancy in its lifetime. According to Gratton(2010), trend analysis is important in the management of anorganization since it is impossible to imagine the future by justextrapolating from the past. What we do, where we do it, how we do itand with whom changes and possibly unrecognizably in the lifetime ofan organization.
Gratton (2010)identifies five forces that influence the changes that anorganization is likely to encounter. The transformation experiencedis not a result of a single force but rather a combination of all thefive forces. The five forces include technological advancements,globalization, demographic changes, societal trends and thelow-carbon economy. Ignoring the impact of these five forces on theorganization is considered by Mathieu (2010) as possible cause of thedownfall of the organization. The activities and behaviors of humanbeings are subject to change with time. Therefore, the organization’smanagement has the mandate to study and analyze the changesassociated with its stakeholders and the market in order to achieve asustainable state. Sustainability is dependent on trends in theorganization’s environment.
The size of world population, life expectancy and working aspect ofhuman beings is influenced by technological advancement. Technologyis an important determinant of the behavior and activities associatedwith human civilization. For example, it is expected that more than50% of the world population will be connected by mobile devices by2030 (Gratton, 2010). Therefore, cognitive assistants can be used inthe future to collect information, monitor consumers’ behavior andtake actions based on their preferences. Globalization is the secondforce influencing trends in the business world. Globalizationinfluences the connectivity of the world population to the worldknowledge net. Therefore, globalization will benefit the prepared,talented and energetic individuals through creation of opportunities.However, there are some groups that will be excluded those who arenot part of the global market due inadequate capabilities such astalent and technology. The demography of the world has been changingwith time, especially life expectancy and population structure.Therefore, the target market of an organization also changes.Anticipating and preparing for such changes enables an organizationto discern opportunities.
Societal trend isanother important force in the business environment. Human beingshave been transformed developments such as urbanization,industrialization, science, technology and education. Thetransformation is expected to continue over the next years. Peoplewill acquire more of individualistic lifestyle where everyone seeksto fulfill their own needs without considering the societalexpectations. The trend in business sales is also likely to alignwith the lifestyle of consumers. The fifth forces influencing trendsin the business environment is the low-carbon economy. Gratton (2010)argues that the way organizations operate today and in the comingdecades will be influenced by how they use energy. The developingworld is more likely to result in increased oil prices due to theirhigh energy consumption while the oil reserves are being depleted. Anorganization may opt for an alternative source of energy as acountermeasure to the expected increase in oil prices.
Convergence oftrends of the five forces that influence the market environmentleaves an impact of a higher magnitude on an organization. However,the convergence can be used to the advantage of the organizationthrough trend analysis. In most cases, managers can articulate majortrends within and outside their organization. There are trends thatoften ignored or by managers, but these trends influences customersaspirations, attitudes and behaviors. Lack of recognition of thesetrends is as a result of the fact that managers consider them to beperipheral to their markets. Competitors can utilize the less obvioustrends to create competitive advantage. Trends can give anorganization the opportunity to transform their business industry.
Ofek and Wathieu(2010) identified four steps in trend analysis: Identification oftrends consumer exploration comparison of the exploration resultsand selection of appropriate strategies. During the identification oftrends, Ofek and Wathieu (2010), recommends managers to identify bothmajor and peripheral trends that have the ability to shape theirorganizations. Finding answers to the questions below are essentialin identifying a trend worth leveraging.
Do the changes affect several aspects of the consumers’ life?
How profound are impacts of the changes on the consumer’s priorities, perceptions and expectations?
What percentage of consumers is affected by the trend?
Will the trend affect the consumer behavior for a long duration?
This step shouldcontinuous in an organization in order to identify the changes arethey occur. Organizations should create a department that deals withidentification of trends in the market.
In the secondstep, exploration of consumers, two separate explorations areconducted. The first exploration focuses on the less obvious effectson the trend in the business environment. The explorationinvestigates the emerging goals, beliefs and perceptions amongconsumers, and new assumptions on social roles and interactions. Thesecond exploration focuses on the perceptions and behaviors ofconsumers associated with the organization’s products. For example,in the breakfast industry, consumers want to associate with productsand services that enable them attain socially respected outcomes suchas prestige. The second exploration should also seek to investigatethe undesired outcomes and deficiencies of products and services of agiven organization.
Comparison of theresults enables organizations to discover the convergence, disconnector conflict between their products or services and the trend they aretrying to articulate. The outcome of this process should ensure toidentify a strategy on how an organization can maintain or improvesits products that addresses the consumer preferences. Disconnect andconflict between products and a trend should be eliminated throughconvergence of trends that ensures products and services of a companyare in accordance with the preferences of consumers. Convergence oftrend involves combining more than one entity to address the dynamicwants of consumers.
The final step,isolation of potential strategies, considers how important theconcepts associated with a product category interact with thetrend-related changes in the perceptions and behaviors of consumers.There are three strategies that an organization can employ to ensureis remains relevant in the market infuse and argument innovationand transcend and counteract and reaffirm. Disconnect between theproduct and trends require innovation that converge trends.
In the today’s business world, consumers have a busy lifestylewhich has a major impact on their eating behavior. The traditionalbehavior of consumers having meals at home is now being replaced byconvenient meals that consumers can take while on the move. Employedindividuals need to report at their workplaces early and still theyhave to eat. To avoid inconveniences, they have developed thebehavior of eating while commuting to or from work. This trend isincreasing and some businesses in the breakfast industry havebenefited by articulating this trend in their operations. Businesseshave come with innovations to meet on-the-go eating behavior. FripsGmbH, a German organic food supplier came up with on-the-go mueslipots that make it easier for consumers eat food while commuting(Witham K. 2015).
Changes in thebusiness environment affect the performance and operations or anorganization. The trends that influence a business are categorizedinto technological advancements, low-carbon economy, societal trends,demographic changes, and globalization. These changes affect thebehaviors, perceptions and expectations of consumers. An organizationcan identify important trends that have the potential of transformingits productivity and relevance in the market. Comparison of thechanges within and outside the organization is referred to as trendanalysis. Convergence of trend is the combination of more than one ofthe five categories to address the changing consumer preferences andbehaviors.
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