How are you at judging consumer tastes? Reports this week show that UK book sales have declined for the first time in 5 years. There is some evidence that this is because of the rise of audiobooks. Sales rose by over 43% in 2018.
Publishers are not worried. People still love printed books. It seems unlikely that the audio end of the market would ever replace tangible books completely. However, it is still a warning about the importance of watching the horizon and being aware of your market.
The seismic shift in retail that has occurred over the past few years has seen the disappearance of some mega-brands. As well as issues with post-Brexit consumer confidence, the rise in online competition is often cited for the loss of the likes of BHS and Toys R Us. The High Street is changing and becoming more experience-based – with ‘shopping’ no longer sufficient as a pastime.
These changes are relevant for all industries as consumer tastes and trends adapt and change over time. For the food industry, local sourcing, authenticity and plant based diets loom large. For the drinks industry, there is the looming threat of a whole generation now reaching drinking age who have little interest in alcohol consumption.
The trick, often easier said than done, is to take your head out of the every day and look what is coming next. Adapting your business to take advantage of every flash in the pan is a very bad idea. But having the flexibility to move with broad social shifts, and the guts to take risks on the Next Big Thing could prove to be very lucrative indeed.
Pictured: The Head of Steam in Leicester was shortlived as they misjudged the market in the city. After one refurbishment from beer bar to cocktail bar, the venue was handed over to a third party operator.