Wednesday, February 5, 2014

5 Ways to Identify Product Trends

Did I lose you with the word "trend?" Don't be scared, this isn't an economics lesson. When many smaller at-home eBay sellers (without a business background) hear the word trend, their pulse rate rises, they envision a complicated graph in the Wall Street Journal, or feel like they need an MBA to understand the next paragraph. Not so. I'm going to make this easy for you and help you understand how to identify trends in an uncomplicated way, with zero cost.

So, let's break this down. What exactly is a trend?

A trend is a general direction in which something is developing or changing.

Trend analysis is is the practice of collecting information and recognizing patterns in the information around you.

That's it.

Looking at trends can help you identify products, categories, or niches of items to sell. You want to pay attention to trends over time to see how something is developing. To see if the general population is catching on and spending money on a specific trend. Let me give you some examples.

Reality TV shows are an entertainment trend.

Gluten free foods are a food trend.

Tall boots and leggings with a big sweater is a winter fashion trend.

Free lancing and working at home is a job trend.

Camouflage clothing is a fashion trend, thanks to Duck Dynasty.

Cupcakes and cake pops have are a a food or entertaining trend.

See how easy that was?

When you pay attention to trends, you can discover new pockets of customers that are interested in very specific items, supplies, or products that you can provide. As entrepreneur Seth Godin says, "Find products for your customers, not customers for your products." In other words, educate yourself on what people want, and figure out a way to provide it for them. This kind of thinking is what should drive your sourcing efforts.

Top 5 Ways to Identify Product Trends

1. Pinterest. If you aren't on it, get on it. Because of the visual nature of the site, you don't even have to read anything. Just look at the pictures. Follow the main feed or choose a category that interests you. Look for patterns. For example, I love the DIY category, even though I am not very crafty. I can get ideas on what supplies or materials people are using to make projects, and find a way to make those materials available for customers to purchase on eBay or Etsy. Find me on Pinterest here.

2. Google Trends. These are hot trends in entertainment, music, books, news, food and beverage, companies, sports, science, gaming, technology, and other topics. See Google Trends here.

3. Twitter Trending. You don't need to post tweets or spend hours of your time on Twitter. Go to the main page of Twitter, and look on the left and you will see a section, Trends. This will change based on what is happening in news, sports, weather, celebrities, entertainment, health, technology, and other categories. Pay attention to what you see here over time. It could be the Super Bowl, a new diet book, or a celebrity who has recently died.

4. Most major news websites have a trending news section. Visit USA Today, Fox News, ABC News, NBC News, and Huffington Post and pay attention to what is trending.

5. Become a regular on and Pay attention to articles about start-ups, inventions, technology, consumer buying patterns, and new product niches. For example, the pet product industry is predicted to take off in 2014.  

If you really want to dig deep into what is specifically trending on eBay, try a one-month subscription to Terapeak. Use this tool to identify hot products, popular categories, and items with high sell-through rates. Hot items are always a moving target, so expect to do this research on an ongoing basis.

Trend research is really just paying attention to what is going on around you. And this is how I get some of my best product ideas.

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