Predicting the future is the holy grail of the CPG industry. Millions of dollars are poured into research, product testing, and marketing campaigns, in pursuit of the next big thing.
But what if you could know future trends before your competitors?
Social listening is the fastest, most effective method for predictive research, because the data it collects is published and acquired by businesses in real time.
But does social data actually predict the future? I break down the realities of social data analysis in a more appealing format: an infographic.
Social data: Moving toward foresight
What you see in the infographic below are thoughts I’ve had when analyzing how trends appear and are identified in the data collected by social listening companies.
To find out whether it’s possible to predict the future with social data, I categorized my thoughts into “Yes” (I believe this proves that you can predict trends), and “No” (this is not a reality yet), with my final answer published below the infographic.
Yes, you can predict the future… sort of
Theoretically, you could make a bet on something new becoming a trend, track it in online conversation until you feel satisfied with your research, and act upon it. If you’re the first to market with a product consumers want but can’t get elsewhere, you’ve managed to use social data to predict the future.
The limitations are how far into the future you can predict. As mentioned in in the infographic, by the time a trend has started, it has moved beyond being a fad. But how long will the trend last?
At this stage it would be very difficult, perhaps impossible, to predict what people want in 18 months. But if you can act quickly, social conversation can help you deliver products that people want before the market becomes saturated with your competitors.
But there really isn’t any other research tool that can help you to act faster on consumer preference than a social listening tool. What people say publicly on Twitter is in your analytics dashboard instantly, ready for you to analyze and discover insights from.