In periods of economic and social turbulence, it can be tempting to wait for the latest wave of change to hit the shores of your business before deciding where to focus. But the frequency and ferocity of these waves continue to increase, and you therefore run the risk of always waiting for the next wave before making the jump.

Even in this turbulence, however, there are consistent trends that provide you with big opportunities for growth. Which of these trends could you focus on to drive innovation and growth for your business?

  1. Making life easier. Tesco has built a decade of growth on its brand promise of Every Little Helps. Finding ways to make your customers lives easier and simpler is a major source of potential growth.
  2. Giving back time. Linked to the first trend, the idea of giving people back time is immensely valuable in our pressurised society. I was at Disneyland Paris with my family last week and their Fast Pass system, where you can beat the queues, felt like being treated as a very special guest.
  3. Reducing stress and anxiety. No one ever got sacked for buying IBM or McKinsey, or so the saying goes. What can you do to remove or reduce your customers’ level of uncertainty and anxiety?
  4. Making high-value offerings affordable for all. This trend started a century ago by Henry Ford, and probably earlier. In more recent times Primark, Ryanair, Dell and WalMart have all prospered by applying this idea to their sector.
  5. Sharing information and knowledge. Google has become one of the world’s biggest brands by sharing information – for free! The web has enabled other businesses –,, – to generate value by making information and knowledge more transparent.
  6. Providing a sense of community. Facebook enables people to share information, but it also creates a sense of belonging for people. In an entirely different market, Harley Davidson has developed its brand not only on the quality of its product, but also its support for Harley owners’ events across Europe and the US.
  7. Living a more rewarding life. Luxury brands have always given their customers a feeling of being special, but now other, more mass brands, are also offering their customers the chance to step-up the quality of their lives. For example, Sainsbury’s, the UK grocer, has used Jamie Oliver to persuade their customers to Try Something New Today, and Apple could easily take L’Oreal’s tag line and tell their buyers that They’re Worth It.
  8. Giving a faster response. Amazon has focused on giving its customers more convenient and faster deliveries on its products, and Zara’s whole supply chain is centred on getting the latest catwalk fashions into its stores in a matter of days rather than weeks.

© Stuart Cross 2010. All rights reserved.