Whether you want to start a business or already have one, knowing early on what customers will want leads to success. Identifying business trends helps you keep on top of the latest products and services. Trend-spotting companies will sell you information on business trends, but you can learn to spot them yourself. Once you get into the trend-spotting mindset, you will begin to see opportunities everywhere.
Read newspapers, magazines and blogs. Trends tend to happen first in major world cities -- look for news from London, Paris, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco. Regularly scan "The New York Times" and "Wall Street Journal"; each provide a range of business trends and news. Check out the business section of your local paper and any trade publications for your industry. Don't overlook blogs and their comment sections when researching trends.
Research business trends on the Internet. Many companies track business trends and allow you to access the information for free. Trendwatching.com publishes a bimonthly report that covers both international and domestic trends. On Springwise.com, you can browse more than 3,000 new business trends by industry. Researching products and prices on Ebay will help you learn what people are buying. Google keyword tool also provides a way to gage interest in a market. Just enter the keyword you want more information about, such as "running shoes," and the keyword tool will show you the number of searches for that phrase.
Go out and observe people. Find out where your target market gathers, such as shopping areas, popular restaurants and events; then just people-watch. Note what people are wearing, eating, buying and enjoying and which businesses and restaurants have customers and sales -- and which do not.
Talk to customers, potential customers and entrepreneurs. Use online surveys and social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to find out what customers want and need. Go to networking events and trade shows and get trend and sales information from as many people as you can -- buyers, sellers, distributors and attendees. When talking to others, keep an open mind. You may discover a great trend from a completely different industry.