Change is the constant in our lives. Which keeps things interesting, but slightly difficult from a business perspective. For example, think for a moment or two about the butchers and pork pie makers of the UK.
In the past 12 months, one in eight Britons has now declared themselves vegan or vegetarian. A further 21% now claim to be flexitarian, so reducing their meat consumption to an occasional meal. So a third of the population are now not eating meat at all or only doing so on an irregular basis.
Now, is this a fad, a trend, or something bigger?
What’s the difference?
From the dictionary, then a fad is defined as an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived. Think Gangnam Style or foods with activated charcoal.
A trend is a general direction in which something is developing or changing. You might think the move from kimchi to a whole host of fermented foods now gracing cupboards and tables around the land, from fine dining to home cooking and preserving.
And cultural change? Well, not something you necessarily see a lot of, but when it happens can be significant in its impact. A definition is the modification of a society through innovation, invention, discovery or contact with other societies.
So, what does this have to do with pork pies?
Actually it has to do with David Attenborough, and the Blue Planet. More than anything in recent times, that programme has changed attitudes to the world around us, from plastic consumption, to the food we eat. Which means that many people are considering their approach to some fundamental parts of their lives, and purchasing habits.
But, let’s not forget the classic adoption curve. There will still be a large chunk of people who are never going over to the non-meating side.
But, if you’re a butcher or pie maker, then you might be looking at these stats and having a slightly anxious moment. I mean, Greggs might have done, or it could just be the whiff of opportunity that led to the vegan sausage roll. What do you do with your content in these kind of situations?
Content and trends: what could you do?
From my perspective, you could take five different tacks when you see something moving from fad to trend, and even the bigger, more seismic, shifts in the cultural norms of your tribe.
You’ve spent time building up your tribe, and you’ve got a business that is successful on whatever measures are important to you. You produce content that they value, that they engage with. It might be that you’ve seen fads and trends come and go before, and you’re still here.
Sometimes, in some businesses, then the trend is with you, and at other times you’re less in favour. I would say pork pies is probably one of those. Eating habits moved away from them during the nouvelle cuisine of the 80s and came back with the focus on artisanal products. Things ebb and flow, and you could just sit it out.
Explain your point of view
Your point of view is your story. For example, the steak producer might talk about the welfare of the animals, about choosing quality meat as your occasional meat meal. The pork pie maker might talk about the fact their product never was intended for daily eating, and again it’s back to quality choices over quantity choices.
Tell the story of your why, and why you’re making your choices around what you do. Use your content to tell those stories in different ways. Every choice has many angles, whether you do written content, or visual.
Ask your tribe
You might be considering a Gregg’s style expansion, something to make the most of the oncoming opportunity. You could ask your tribe what they think, what they’d be interested in you offering as an additional thing.
Polls can get high engagement, and you get a good flow of content ideas as you start taking the winning idea through to reality. Get them involved, keep them involved and keep asking questions.
This is a pretty drastic course of action and will be about significantly more than your content. But if you do make drastic changes, then deciding if you can keep any of your current tribe will dictate how you approach your content to tell the story of the change. You’ll probably want to be sure this is about more than just trends or fads.
Issue a rallying cry
For some brands, taking the fight to the fight is the right thing for them. Your content could be outlandish, the opposite of what the general trend is. Think of BrewDog or RyanAir.
This is not for the faint-hearted. There could be a backlash. It needs a plan for working well, and plans for the downside as well. If it’s in the personality of what your brand is about then this could be the tactic that works. Higher risk, possibly higher returns. One to go into with your eyes wide open!
Whatever the fad, trend or cultural change, keeping your ear to the ground and understanding what your tribe are talking and thinking about will give you some warning on changes that might be afoot for them. It’ll give you some more time to think about what you might do, and the approach you might take. Find your way of listening in, and pick the trends from the fads.
How do you listen out for the next thing in your business? Which are the trends you’re keeping an eye on?