Chad Grills
Mar 29, 2017 · 10 min read

Too often businesses fail because the leaders inside try to do too much. Focusing on what you should be focusing on and outsourcing everything else- now that’s how you run a company successfully.

How do you know where your focus should lie? Observing trends and adapting to them is a major part of it.

These 13 business trends are designed to spark the ideas you need to take your business to the next level. This is part 2/2, part 1 is here. They’re brought to you by our sponsor and partner, AddShoppers.

If you sell anything online, AddShoppers software will increase your revenue for each visitor. They work with the biggest brands in the world, and guarantee a 10x ROI for the small price of their software. That’s a mission we’re all about!

1. Local Partnerships and Joint Ventures Will Drive Foot Traffic into Physical Stores

Expect to see a flurry of partnerships and joint ventures between companies with pop-up stores, or smaller physical stores and “guideshops” (a model pioneered by Bonobos). For instance, you might get a free Starbucks coffee or tea when you stop by a Bonobos guideshop to try on a suit. Or expect to see savvy brands with a physical presence like Bonobos host pop-up stores from aligned brands and complimentary products like AllBirds.

2. Customer-Generated Content is Vital

Consumers trust user-generated content (UGC) more than any other type of media, so it stands to reason that retailers will figure out how to harness this for better brand experiences.

Camel Time! Photo, Twenty20.

Businesses will work with their clients and customers to incentivize user and customer-generated content. Storytelling will likely play a big role in this kind of content as brands seek out ways to make customers’ experiences heard.

UGC will start slowly, but will build as businesses learn how to properly incentivize customers for their participation.

Whether it’s user generated content, testimonials, recommendations, or advertisements . . . expect to see way more collaboration between users and businesses. Here is a simple and solid example from Starbucks: start with our white cup, decorate it, and send us the picture!

Send us your fan art. Photo, Hubspot

3. Tastemakers and Influencers Are Becoming Even More Powerful (aka… The Tim Ferriss and Oprah effects are just getting started)

To better filter through the noise online, customers will continue beating a path to the door of brands and people they trust for product recommendations. You’ve probably heard of the Oprah or Tim Ferriss effect, and these are both real phenomena. When either of these two talk about something, it drives awareness and trials. Expect companies to become trusted curators by developing their own “(Company Name here) effect.”

We see the market rewarding this, as the rates for product placement and podcast advertising are going through the roof.

4. Media Must Mediate a Better Life for the Viewer

The search for truth matters! Photo, Twenty20.

Businesses and marketers must continue learn how to bring their audiences positive feelings and transformative messages.

People are sick of the Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt currently pushed by most digital information sources and news.

Media will need to spark nostalgia and faith by telling stories of a definitely better future. The platforms best suited for this are Medium, YouTube, Instagram/ Facebook, and any other platform where the, “little moments” in life can be displayed via picture or video.

In 2017 and beyond, media that is magnetic will be the kind that mediates: faith, hope, learning, and gratitude.

5. Loyalty Programs Will Become Hyper-Personalized

Loyalty campaigns will be a key strategy throughout 2017 and beyond. Expect to see the most savvy retailers gathering boatloads of consumer information as customers shop, using this data to offer personalized loyalty incentives during the shopping journey, and personalized offers to re-engage or strike up a conversation about buying in the future.

We’ve seen the example of Target using data to try and determine which customers were pregnant and personalizing their offers accordingly. The companies that figure out how to do this in a non-creepy (and more precise) way will win… big time.

Credit card companies have the best chance of creating ultimate loyalty, to the point where every loyalty program can be tied to your credit card number and the card company’s own loyalty system. Expect credit card companies’ loyalty programs to become more consumer and brand friendly.

6. Risk Reversals, Returns, and Guarantees Will Become More Sophisticated

Easy, free, automated product returns are becoming the standard. Gone are the days of needing to call the retailer or send an email to complete a return.

Why then, is a simple return process a good strategy? Because the improved customer experience and remark-ability of easy returns boost the lifetime value of most customers.

Examples are everywhere:

  • Mattress companies are offering a free 100 night trial, with free returns if you’re unhappy
  • Companies like AddShoppers guarantee a 10X ROI over the cost of their software
  • Nordstrom is known to take back any item at any time (sometimes even without a receipt!)

Risk reversals and guaranteeing results is tough, but businesses have to find a way to offer them in order to thrive in 2017 and beyond.

7. Owned and Operated Crowdfunding Will be Used to Test New Product Ideas

Crowdfunding campaigns on third party platforms have been used to fund new projects for retailers, creatives, and other professionals who didn’t otherwise have the financing to develop their products.

This year, more businesses will begin to test crowdfunding on their own platforms. Miir is a great example of company that does their own crowdfunding to test for demand before investing in creating a product.

8. Brands’ Social Impact Will Be Quantified and Advertised

Companies will stop talking about their community projects and social impact, and begin using data to show the real results their employees or products are having on others. Patagonia is a great example.

This will be the secret sauce for companies that want to attract millennials and other employees who want to feel good about working for a specific business.

9. Made in the U.S.A. Will Speed Up the Velocity of Money

Dangerous nationalism or classic americana? You decide. :) Photo, Twenty20.

Though we can’t say the U.S. economy has completely recovered from the 2008 recession, the overall economy has bounced back. However, there’s still a need for businesses to create more jobs and products in-country.

The term velocity of money (also called M2 velocity) describes how quickly money is exchanged from one transaction to another. It’s usually measured as a ratio of gross national product (GNP) to the total amount of money a country has. When the velocity

Since 2007 and the financial crisis of 2008, the United State’s velocity of money has dropped dramatically. In Q1 of 2016, M2 velocity was only 1.46x, compared to 2.21x in 1997.

In an effort to maintain and improve the economy, as well as appeal to audiences who value brands that manufacture products in the States, more businesses are prioritizing on-shore manufacturing. This has the potential to supercharge the velocity of money in the U.S.

10. More IP Licensing Partnerships are Going to Form

Also known as, “your favorite childhood characters are going to come back — and ask you to buy things.”

Snugglypuff wants you to check out the in app purchases! Photo, Twenty20.

If the instant and long term popularity of Pokemon Go has taught us nothing else, it’s shown us that people love products and experiences that elicit nostalgia.

Now that companies have seen first-hand just how much business nostalgia can drive, we’re likely to see more partnerships in the same style as Pokemon GO. The popular app was a four-way partnership between Niantic, Nintendo, Apple, and Google, with Niantic making nearly $1 billlion from the app in 2016.

We’ve seen partnerships like this in the past, though not quite on this scale, or spread across this many companies. Health and fitness apparel company Onnit partnered with Marvel in 2016 to create everything from Captain America t-shirts to Iron Man kettlebells.

While these two examples are vastly different in many ways, they have one theme in common: they both take popular characters from consumers’ childhoods and offer a fresh take on them for adults. The potential to monetize characters has always been there, but the success of Pokemon GO is going to push brands to action. Now that we’ve seen the power of collaboration in action, more brands are likely to take a similar approach to business development and marketing in the year ahead.

11. Data Science and User Experience Design Will Be the Most Important Skills for Companies to Master

Until recently, web analysts could rely on one of the many analytics tools available to simply look at a website’s performance and report data to company leaders. But simply regurgitating analytics data around user behavior won’t be good enough anymore.

Mo Data Mo Problems? Photo, Twenty20.

Everyone has access to data in 2017. Companies now have to figure out how to avoid drowning in it. The businesses that can build in-house web analytics and data science teams are likely to fare better than companies that outsource analytics work to other agencies or, worse, improperly interpret data and UX indicators in-house.

More importantly, businesses that allow their data science and design teams to run radical experiments and try new things will eventually strike gold.

12. Preeminent Companies and Brands Will Become Arbiters For Societal Issues and Debates

Becoming the social arbiter for important issues and topics is the ultimate way to generate consumer engagement with your brand. Amazon tested this strategy with some simple copy that appears when you mouseover a Kindle on their website:

Photo, Amazon

By simply stating, “It’s not screen time. It’s book time,” Amazon is able to address an issue many consumers — -parents especially — -care about: “screen time.”

We all want to use our screens in more productive ways or simply use them less. Many of us have goals to reduce our time spent with our smartphones and increase the number of books we read.

This is a great example of Amazon owning the screen time debate, and saying in a polite way, ‘This isn’t another screen for distractions, it’s a screen to help you read more.’

The risk of offending some consumers far outweighs the upside of making a good point in a clear way that delivers value and nudges customers toward a purchase they can feel good about.

Like Amazon, there are plenty of other companies that are wise about the social debate going on in their industry. They know the debates and arguments that people are making where there product is (or could be) involved.

There’s a good chance there’s a debate going on about your product, too. Consumers are likely familiar with it. You just need to figure out how to insert your brand as an arbiter of this social dialogue and discussion.

How can you help guide that debate? Brands that have good points to make about social issues related to their products should not be afraid of owning such discussions. Obsolescence is waiting for brands with no interesting opinions.

13. Businesses Will Build or Buy Personalization and Optimization Software For Their Data

The race to make sense of data in order to hyper personalize the buying experience is accelerating. Building technology like this means brands need to invest. Either build the right solution, buy it, or be left behind.

AddShoppers is the prime example of a company that takes in your data, and shows you how much money their software can help you make. From that new vantage point of their social and behavioral data, brands can learn how to serve their customers as individuals.

In business, there is a frightening truth… Most businesses act like they know what the future holds, but often they’re scrambling in the dark. It’s easy to say you know exactly what result each of your actions will produce. But nobody does.

The best you can do is to aggressively adapt while learning to spot, identify, and capitalize on the ever changing business environment. The name of the game is focusing on the first principles, but also being aware of new trends. It’s not an easy game, but if it’s played well, business can become the game you never want to end.

Chad Grills is the founder of The Mission, your #1 source for accelerated learning.

If you enjoyed this article, please click the green heart below to help others find it. What business trends are YOU watching for 2017? Leave a comment and let us know!

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.

Chad Grills

Written by

CEO, , a network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.

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