The behavior of buyers in a marketplace can be erratic. Preferences change, trends come and go, and price sensitivity can fluctuate significantly. This often leads companies to chase fads but also causes them to lose sight of what's actually valuable to customers. It works for some organizations, at least in the short term. But it isn't necessarily a smart or sustainable strategy.
Despite the instability of marketplaces, there is always one thing that buyers are looking for: value. If you make value the focus of your relationship with your customers instead of other attributes such as features or price, then you'll never have to worry about falling out of fashion.
Over the past decade, we've been intentional about the sleep products we sell. At Amerisleep, we've designed our offerings to be timeless because we want our customers to make the right investment each time they choose our company. Rather than follow trends and produce products that shoppers love one minute but lose interest in next month, we only manufacture mattresses and sleep accessories our customers will proudly enjoy for decades to come.
Naturally, it can be tempting to pursue fads. But if you keep these two things in mind, then you'll realize that it is a much better solution to focus instead on building an enduring empire.
1. You can't predict trends.
Well-known business leaders sometimes have reputations as being predictors. It's what catapulted Steve Jobs to stardom and what continues to drive his and Apple's legacy today. When you look at some of the company's achievements under his leadership--the first graphical user-interface and the smartphone that revolutionized the market--you have to think he had a knack for predicting the next big thing, right? Wrong.
Steve Jobs and Apple didn't succeed because they accurately forecasted trends. They succeeded because they were committed to making something people wanted and would pay for. The creation of the iPhone wasn't a blind gamble. Although Blackberry was a pioneer in the smartphone market, it focused its sales efforts on acquiring business users. Apple, instead, created a smartphone that would be marketed to the general consumer. The iPhone revolutionized an entire industry because it offered consumers distinct value: an elegant, dependable and user-friendly device that anyone could pick up and become comfortable with.
2. Customers care about their long-term relationship with your brand.
As much as customers like flashy trends, what drives loyalty is how much they personally align with your company's mission and the long-term value your products offer them. According to Forrester, we are squarely in "The Age of the Customer." The relationship between your brand and your customers should dictate how your business functions. Although pursuing fads can get customers excited about your brand, maintaining their interest can prove difficult if your business is simply delivering short-term value every time a new trend arrives.
In order to grow your company sustainably, you need to make your customers' long-term needs your core focus. Avoid fads at all costs and don't let chasing trends derail your productivity. When you commit to building a business that provides people with real value, consumers will reciprocate with purchases, referrals and positive reviews.