Finding a consumer trend is like trying to catch a fast-moving stream with your hands – as soon as you think you've grasped it, it changes course, leaving you wondering where it originated. Here's a guide on how to build a trend report to help follow and analyze consumer trends.
If you work for a modern retailer, you know the impact that consumer trends have on your strategy and bottom line. According to the HubSpot State of Consumer Trends Report, 41% of consumers found a new product via social media in the last 3 months. While finding what’s trending can be helpful, knowing where and who is talking about the trend is even better.
At Granularity, we make understanding consumer trends our mission. To achieve that goal, we help retailers use granular, regularly updated Trend Reports for the categories they manage.
Table of Contents
- What is a trend report?
- Trend report types
- Benefits of a trend report
- How to create a trend report
- An example of a full trend report
- Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
- What are the key components of a trend report?
- How do Geographic and Omnichannel Trend Reports differ in their approach to analyzing consumer trends?
- In what ways do External Trend Reports provide additional value over Internal Trend Reports for modern retailers?
- Can you explain the balance between Quantitative and Qualitative data in a comprehensive Trend Report?
- What steps should a retailer take to start creating their own Trend Report, and what tools can assist in this process?
What is a trend report?
A Trend Report is a deeper dive into the specific origins and momentum of a consumer trend, both geographic and virtual. It means understanding who and where is currently following the trend and where it originated, as well as the current consumer conversation on the trend.
From a McKinsey 2020 report, whereas companies may have previously analyzed high-level usage or attitude surveys a few times a year, the dynamism and momentum of modern consumer trends require a monthly or weekly analysis. This analysis needs to not only be frequent, but also geographically isolated.
Trend report types
There are various types of trend reports that a retailer can use to analyze current consumer trends. Here are some of major types:
Geographic vs omnichannel trend reports
Historical high-level trend reports are falling to the wayside as companies begin to use more and more specific and targeted reports. This includes adding geographic slices to a high-level report, and differentiating geographic constraints with omnichannel demand. Where is a trend occurring in just Seattle and where is the trend across all regions?
These reports can also be either based on footfall traffic to brick and mortar, or via website traffic demographics, or using external data such as search results from different regions.
External vs internal trend reports
Knowing what product you carry is selling well is only one type of trend. A true modern consumer trend report will leverage not only internal sales, but external data as well. This may include anything from social media data to Amazon sales history to Youtube video views. With the speed that consumer trends change today, knowing that a product is no longer in style by waiting for your sales to drop is unacceptable and risks your margin.
|Aspect||External Trend Reports||Internal Trend Reports|
|Data Sources||Social media data, Amazon sales history, Youtube video views, market research reports, competitor analysis, consumer surveys.||Company's own sales data, customer feedback, internal market research.|
|Advantages||Provides a broader perspective of market trends, including what is popular globally or in different demographics; Early detection of emerging trends; Insight into competitor strategies and performance; Understanding consumer sentiments and preferences outside of your customer base.||Directly relevant to the company's specific context; Accurate and detailed data about customer preferences and buying patterns; Easier to analyze and interpret as it's directly related to the business.|
|Limitations||Might not be entirely specific or applicable to the company's unique context; Can be overwhelming due to the vast amount of available data; Risk of misinterpreting trends due to lack of direct customer interaction.||May provide a limited view, focused only on the existing customer base; Delayed detection of new market trends; Risk of missing broader industry shifts or external influences.|
|Application||Useful for strategic planning, new product development, market expansion, and competitive strategy; Helps in adapting quickly to rapidly changing consumer preferences.||Effective for tactical decision-making, inventory management, and customer relationship management; Useful in improving and tailoring current products and services.|
|Example||Analyzing a spike in Youtube video views for a competitor's product can signal an emerging trend that hasn't yet shown in sales data.||Noticing a steady increase in sales of a specific product line through internal reports, indicating a growing trend among current customers.|
Quantitative vs qualitative trend reports
Data and charts are great, but a comprehensive trend report should also include visual and real examples of the trend in action. Tiktok videos embedded, photos of the product in question, comment history from a trending youtube video, all are examples of how to bring a qualitative aspect into an otherwise chart-heavy report.
Benefits of a trend report
Using a trend report creates a unified plan for your team to stock what consumers want and market the way consumers are speaking. Falling behind can be a death sentence to a modern retailer, even the largest ones, where excess stock weighs on profit margins. According to the Washington Post, stores are sitting on a record $732 billion of merchandise.
A trend report will help you see through the uncertainties of demand modelling. It drives conversation, ideation, and teamwork between marketing, planning and fulfillment teams. Rather than guessing why your micro-fiber towel is selling less, you can see a shift that reduced demand in your region but spiked in another. Targeted marketing can find ways to sell inventory that aligns with trends, even using one trend to sell adjacent or even non-adjacent categories of goods.
These benefits can be summarized as better strategic alignment leading to inventory optimization. Granularity’s helped retailers drive 14% increase in revenue through predicting trends.
How to create a trend report
There are many ways to get started with trend reporting. It doesn’t need to be an overly complicated process, and it can begin with whatever tool you currently use. Here’s some key ways to quickly get started creating a trend report, and some more advanced tools you can use as well.
Weekly sales analysis
If you’re not doing this already, create a weekly slice at a product level of inventory for your sales data. You can do this in Excel, or more advanced data modelling tools, or via code. But get a true sense of where has historical stagnant demand began shifting at a weekly level.
One tool that is very available is Google trends. Free and easy to use through UI, Google Trends lets you search a term and see its regional representation as well as related queries. It can be tricky to find what matters to you, and the data can be hard to parse for what really matters, but it is a good starting spot.
Search social media
Going to where the conversation is happening is critical in today’s online world. You need to witness the conversation, or join it, where your customers talk about demand. That means social media providers like Tiktok, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), Threads, and other places. You can search for a term if you know what to find, or see whats trending. But fighting these tools algorithms can be difficult to wade through and find what matters.
TrendsDecoder by Granularity is a tool that aggregates search and social data into one place, runs AI tools on-top of it to find what really matters, and presents it in a simple way. Avoid clicking between sites and searching on your own, with TrendsDecoder you can make the trend discovery and analysis process painless.
An example of a full trend report
Using one of Granularity’s Trend Reports, we will analyze the “micro-trend” of silver mule heels. As we discussed in a previous blog post, the TrendsDecoder platform found that the silver mule heel was a flagged micro-trend – forecasted by our AI model to be much more popular in the coming months than the same time last year.
A trend report on silver mule heels offers a visual graph of the geographic interest in the silver mule heel both currently in a heatmap of the continental United States, as well as a line chart of geographic interest over time. It also embeds a Tiktok post of a silver mule heel, allowing us to visualize the trend and click through to more examples and the exact consumer conversations happening this very moment online.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
What are the key components of a trend report?
A trend report should contain an overview of the historical demand for the product, a geographic and regional analysis, social media qualitative data, and a summary of its projected trend length. It should also capture how the trend impacts the wider assortment of products and categories.
How do Geographic and Omnichannel Trend Reports differ in their approach to analyzing consumer trends?
Geographic or regional trend reports focus on discovering the differences in demand between defined regional zones, whereas omnichannel trend reports focus on channel fulfillment and consumption, often accompanied by footfall data.
In what ways do External Trend Reports provide additional value over Internal Trend Reports for modern retailers?
An internal trend report is hard to qualify or justify for decision making. Is the product trending (i.e. seeing a spike in sales) due to your company’s actions or is it a byproduct of a wider consumer trend. In most cases it is the latter, and that is where an external trend report can shed light on the spread and projected length of a consumer trend.
Can you explain the balance between Quantitative and Qualitative data in a comprehensive Trend Report?
Quantitative data in a comprehensive trend report is focused on the data that feeds into tables, charts and metrics. The percent growth rate over the past 3 months compared to last year’s same timeframe. The year-over-year trend line. ARIMA modelling and other statistical models. Qualitative data brings the quantitative data to life in a report and makes the report, rather than a statistical analysis, a cross-functional collaborative report that marketing, sales, and planning teams can all use. Qualitative data may include examples of social media posts or excerpts from blogs or news articles.
What steps should a retailer take to start creating their own Trend Report, and what tools can assist in this process?
Start by tracking trends and identifying a team or individuals to own this process. Then consider what trends matter and how you plan on collaborating on trends. Since consumer trends move fast, consider a cross-functional team who meet weekly to discuss new trend reports. Tools such as TrendsDecoder can help teams collaborate on a shared trend report, with data and social media examples.
About the Author
Tali Remennik is a Certified Professional Forecaster, certified by the Institute of Business Forecasting and Planning. She is a data scientist working at the intersection of AI, demand forecasting and retail strategy. She is the co-founder of Granularity. Granularity is an AI-powered trends platform AI and data from Tiktok, Instagram, Google and others to predict consumer trends as they emerge.
Learn more about Granularity - trend forecasting using data from Tiktok, Instagram, Amazon and others.