How Do I Follow Consumer Behavior Trends?

Jan Fletcher
Jan Fletcher
Hiring a trend consultant is a reliable way to gain information on buying trends.
Hiring a trend consultant is a reliable way to gain information on buying trends.

The main techniques used to follow consumer behavior trends include reviewing media sources, conducting or perusing consumer surveys, or reviewing recent marketing research. Other ways to obtain fresh data on buying behavior are hiring a trend-watching expert, or attending trade shows. Some firms who want to follow consumer behavior trends use focus groups to probe consumers' attitudes and responses to marketing materials. Clandestine ways to spot consumer trends may involve secret shoppers, or lurking in chat rooms and monitoring social media channels. Spotting new trends may be considered an art that combines insatiable curiosity with an intense, ongoing scrutiny of newly emerging buying behavior.

Media sources and surveys typically give a broad view of the latest trends in consumer behavior. In particular, newspapers and trade journals often publish data that is of use to those who follow buying trends. For example, a trade journal serving the recreational boating industry may publish results of consumer satisfaction surveys or statistics on what model of boat is currently exhibiting a rapid growth curve in sales. This information, when combined with that from other sources, may fill in a portion of the picture of an emerging trend. In general, you will probably need many sources of data before it is safe to draw a particular conclusion.

Purchasing market research or hiring a trend consultant is generally a fairly reliable and speedy way to gain information on buying trends. Direct gathering of consumer intelligence often occurs at trade shows, where buyers may be observed responding to new products. Many companies conduct extensive polling and surveys of consumer behavior and offer this information for sale.

Clandestine methods are also commonly used to uncover new trends. Focus groups offer researchers an opportunity to probe a consumer's mind at length, while watching how a group of consumers who do not know each other react to products or marketing campaigns. Typically, participants are pre-screened and offered a modest payment in return for agreeing to share opinions with researchers. Those who conduct focus groups almost always film participants with cameras so that facial expressions and body language may be reviewed afterwards. Market researchers may pose as customers, while quietly observing customer behavior and response to store displays.

Possessing a curious attitude is a great asset in spotting new consumer behavior trends. If you are the type of person comfortable with asking others what they think of a new product, then you possess one of the most important attributes for this work. It is the job of trend spotters to question consumers, following up on what may appear to be tangents to discover the true reason for a purchase.

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Discussion Comments


@fBoyle-- Reviews may be biased but customer feedback is not, especially if it is confidential. It requires some work, but most consumers are happy to leave feedback.


I don't trust online reviews too much and I doubt that manufacturers use these reviews to make predictions about consumer behavior. In fact, many of these reviews are paid for by the manufacturers. Sometimes products are given for free for reviews and so the reviews are almost always biased.

The best ways to get information about consumer behavior is official market research and trade journals. The data and results from these sources are objective and unbiased. They present the actual trends in consumer behavior.


The internet and social media are great ways to analyze consumer behavior and trends as the article said. Blogs, review sites, shopping sites and social networking sites are great places to learn about what consumers really thing about products.

One way to check the popularity of a product is to check out shopping sites that sell the product. Many of these sites mention the number of products sold and also feature reviews of the product from sellers. High sale numbers on these sites and positive reviews are an indication that this product or type of product is a hit with consumers.

Of course, official sales numbers are easy to get a hold of by manufacturers. But the advantage of checking out reviews online is that consumers also describe the shortcomings of products or what they would like to see different.

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    • Hiring a trend consultant is a reliable way to gain information on buying trends.
      By: Kenishirotie
      Hiring a trend consultant is a reliable way to gain information on buying trends.