Trend-Spotting Resources and How to Take Advantage
We’re all looking for ways to boost sales, streamline overhead and maximize our retail experience, while staying true to our brand and wise to our pocketbook. Wouldn’t it be great if could consult our personal Magic 8-Ball, beckoning it to spin in our favor, guiding us towards the answers — for everything. Like…
What is the next generation going to want, this year?
Will the plant parents still be swooning over the Split-Leaf monstera and religiously tending to their urban jungle?
When will the fairy gardens be done so we can stop ordering bulk mini trowels and hoes, but maybe keep the gnomes — because they’re desktop cute.
And when will people stop asking for dyed red mulch?
Magic 8-Ball says: Outlook not so good.
The truth is, projecting trends, sales and overall business strategy is a gamble. Obviously you can review past promotions and quarterly accomplishments (or lack thereof), but they’re still only a guiding force to what you think might happen moving forward. So how can you make better buying choices, sans Magic 8-ball?
I’m glad you asked.
There are resources right at your fingertips you can take advantage of to help make educated decisions regarding the latest color palettes, mini houseplant craze, and if buffalo plaid is still a thing.
There are three social platforms I continuously search, research and casually browse to gain insider knowledge to what is attracting the masses – regardless if it’s appropriate to my target demographic or not. It’s important to note, I review all trending topics, even if Pantone’s color of the year doesn’t get me school-girl giddy, I still pay attention.
Additionally, I tend to watch businesses and influencers outside of the horticulture industry. We all know our plant-loving tendencies can monopolize our focus leaving us riding in the caboose on the “trend train.” Step out of your social comfort zone and start an invested interest in what the fashion, home decor and food industries are doing.
There are rogue, plant lovers taking over Instagram with more followers than you’ll ever dream of. And by “rogue” I mean, maturing plant parents who know how to arrange their Calatheas in picturesque styles, sneak in 10 trending hashtags and watch the followers roll right in. To be completely honest, it makes me super anxious to see such a savvy group of individuals indirectly selling plants. We should be owning this space. Let’s start by recognizing who these influencers are and following them.
My Suggestion: First, if you’re not on Instagram. Get there. Right now. Create a personal account (don’t ever do a trial run of a new social platform in the name of your business) and start searching for topics that interest you and your customers. There are a multitude of hashtags on Instagram (some appropriate, some completely not) that are collecting topics for your viewing. For instance, #HouseplantsOfInstagram always gets the ladies. From here, you can get an overview (much like Pinterest) of interesting plants and see if any posters are worth following. You can also search by design. #ScandinavianStyle is stylin’ these days. See what it’s all about, instantly with Instagram.
It’s easy to get lost down a rabbit hole here. I look for influencers with good, consistent styling techniques to guide how I may style and talk about plants as they relate to the home. Here are a few influencers I find inspiring to get you started:
+ Plant Lady Co (pictured left) doesn’t even have a website! and she’s relentlessly pushing out plant-infused imagery filtered with a black and white hue.
+ Kate Keesee’s job is to style homes, so you know she’s good. Follow her play on patterns, textures and how she incorporates plants into the scene.
And of course, feel free to give me a follow 😉 Katie Casey Designs
If you can get a feeling to how people are using plants in their everyday lives, you can sell them better.
I know you know what Pinterest is. We’ve been killing time on that site for years now! At its initiation, Pinterest was the place to be, post and engage with your followers. For most of us, this is no longer an objective (or at least it shouldn’t be). But it still holds value. Let others populate the feed for you to organize your thoughts on trends.
My Suggestion: Create Pinterest boards themed for specific topics that will help you strategize for your business. Try not to get sidetracked with dinner recipes unless you really need a new meal for the family or you want to share a fresh salsa recipe for your gardening followers. Each board you create will have suggested pins, once you’ve set the tone. Use this option to add related value.
While Etsy can be considered an e-commerce site, its content is categorized by experiences, events and emotions making it more of a hub for creative influencers. If you’re unfamiliar with Etsy, it is a platform for the hand-making mavens to peddle their wares. You will find an overwhelming variety of products, from clothing, jewelry, home & living, tech, garden and more. I’ve been drooling over these reclaimed wood planters from Medium Design in France for months now! I’m desperate to learn how they are crafted. But more relatable to today: I’m desperate to find a similar supplier stateside, so I can peddle with my own plants.
My Suggestion: Create a profile, start “hearting” pieces that speak to you and your customers, and follow shops that are engaging and consistently push out product. This will initiate Etsy to start curating relevant products for you, and showcase them through email and the Discovery tab on their website.
Here’s a sample of an email I received that immediately shows what style is gaining traction on their site. Additionally they’ve shared seasonal categories with the top products and tailored teaser images enticing me to finally purchase that mint resin ring with rose-gold flakes. And similar to any other algorithm, the more you play, the more you see. Browse routinely, save occasionally and Etsy will work to keep your suggested collections fresh and “shop updates” intriguing.
Yes, I know your inbox is already full with 176 unread messages. But listen, the magic is within you and how you harness these resources.
My Suggestion: Treat this recommendation like a digital magazine that you didn’t have to pay for. Every morning I receive multiple emails from several different outlets. I don’t have time to read them every morning — neither do you. But come Sunday morning while I’m sipping my coffee and scouting the latest ads for the week, I’m also scanning (read: SCANNING) my promotional inbox looking for quick takeaways on the latest home and living trends. Here are my favorite subscriptions:
+ Apartment Therapy delivers daily inspiration featuring the latest home decor styles, DIY-hacking tips and decorating with plants. They’ve almost got it all. Here’s an email I received recently. Naturally the article about a genetically engineered houseplant caught my eye, along with 8 decor pieces to always buy on the cheap (because that’s where my life is at right now).
+ Domino is similar to Apartment Therapy and always catch my eye when the email title is: Are black kitchens the new white kitchens? Cause I really want to know. And then I want to know if black is the new black because then I’ll start offering black containers (see that full circle there?).
+ Hunker has a little more polished style with cleaner design lines. A recent email highlighted how to style your bookcase and if you’ve been following the #PlantShelfie craze (again, on Instagram) then you’ll know how important it is to master this organizing tactic.
PS: You can follow all these trend-spotters on Instagram. That’s my other suggestion.
You barely have time to read emails, so I know you don’t have time (or probably money) to research the latest trends for this year, and the next three years. Therefore, you need to follow, shop or at least be aware of companies that do have these endless resources. And take cues from their staging easthics, both online, digitally and in person, so you can ultimately sell more.
+ Magnolia Journal is selling plants.
Let that sink in for a moment because when I got this email the other day, I about fell out of my chair. I damn-near took to Facebook to call each and everyone of you out on this. Chip and Joanna are indirectly selling plants by displaying them in all their home-stylin’ glory along with products they’ve sourced from their own store — and others! Oh, AND they’ve shared with their readers care tips and benefits of every plant.
People, there is not one single, living plant listed for sale on their website.
Now swallow that nugget.
I’ve been preaching this for years: You have got to show people how to arrange plants in their home, to complement their style and they will buy more. Period.
+ Anthropologie and of course, their sister store Terrain is an e-commerce model of envy for everyone. Watch the color combos, texture styles and creativeness of both companies for an endless supply of retail inspiration. Their demographic might serve a higher-class of people than you (imagine how unrelatable rural Iowa is), but that shouldn’t stop you from implementing some of their design techniques into your business strategy.
+ Target, where every one of of your customers shop, or somewhere equivalent. Target will help you stay in line with your target market (see what I did there?) by showing you what your customers are attracted to. Their in-store displays are a template to follow along with their emails that direct customers to products themed by feelings, emotions, and design – making it easier for their customers to shop for their personal style.
I barked quite a bit about time and you not having much of it, because, well you’re trying to run a business. And here I am, telling you to read more, do more and see more. More more more.
If you’re about to bust at the seams and can’t possibly do more, let us help. We might not be a Magic 8-Ball, but we can be your eyes and ears on the digital ground so you can concentrate on what you’re good at.