News Column

Social Trends to Consider When Starting a Business

September 25, 2001

Isabel M. Isidro for

One great way to find market opportunities for your product or service is to study social and business trends. New social trends transform how goods are built and sold. Business opportunities grow out of changes in the social order.

In the 1920s, for example, few people would have thought that bottled water would become a big business. As awareness of health issues began to grow, however, smart marketers correctly discerned that people would choose to drink bottled water instead of water straight from the tap.

And who could have predicted how quickly the Internet would change everything we know about doing business?

A challenge for you as a small business owner might be to find business opportunities in trends such as these:

Security and safety -- The recent terrorist attacks in the United States have created a huge demand for products that offer security to businesses and individuals alike. Communication gadgets like cell phones have become essential. Backup and recovery systems for computers also have seen a surge in demand.

Retirement of the baby boomers -- Huge numbers of people born between 1946 and 1964 are reaching the age of retirement. Sociologists, economists, and demographers all agree that this demographic shift will significantly affect how we do business. As baby boomers enter their 50s, new opportunities in the finance, travel, housing, recreation, vocational training, and clothing industries will come about. People approaching retirement age have more disposable income than in past generations, and they are driving growth in areas such as services, general retailing, and recreation.

Increasing purchasing power for women -- A recent Business Week article reported that women are beginning to close the pay gap. In 1999, the weekly pay of American women with full-time jobs was equal to 76.5 percent of men's wages, an increase from only 61 percent in 1974. The increased purchasing power of women is also evident on the Internet.

Changing face of the population -- The influx of immigrants is slowly changing the face of America. According to Census Bureau projections, Hispanics will make up nearly a quarter of the population by 2050. Non-Hispanic whites will represent a slim majority of the U.S. population, decreasing from 73.6 percent of the population in 1995 to only 52.8 percent in 2050. Consider how your products will be marketed to reach the burgeoning Latino market.

Increasing globalization -- Companies that excel in the 21st century will be ones that break down global barriers. Spurred by the growing acceptance of the Internet, globalization is a major trend today and will continue to accelerate in coming years. Consider what that means for opportunities in emerging world markets, particularly in China, the former Soviet Union, and Southeast Asia.

Mass customization -- Huge conglomerates are beginning to offer products that can be customized by potential buyers according to their preferences. Dell, for example, has brought this concept to interactive online systems that allow customers to design a computer system. Customers can choose from a menu of attributes, prices, and delivery options. Hence, the customers get what they want at prices acceptable to them. Providing products or services individually tailored to each customer could mean new opportunities for your business.

Reinvention of religion -- Although modern times have seen many people cast off traditional beliefs and services, others are returning to them even more vigorously. That means opportunities in books, tapes, and online services.

Yearning for high-touch products and services -- Today's high-tech solutions have created a market for nostalgia and traditional service. Consider what that means with regard to opportunities in antiques, older homes, home delivery and pickup services, and other businesses owned by friendly, service-minded proprietors.

For more information on starting a business, visit Power HomeBiz Guides at

Source: Copyright 2001 2i Trade Resource, All Rights Reserved

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