It’s early in 2016 and while new years’ resolutions to try something new is fresh in everyone’s mind, I thought I’d post some trends I’ve noticed taking off in 2015 that I think will continue through 2016 or may already be reaching their 'consumer-consumption-limit'. I really just wrote this for myself and started pinning and researching but then figured others might want to read this to. Noting of course that, as a disclaimer, I do not have a glass ball
I have included one image for each 'trend' but you can find more on this Pinterest board. I know that some potters don’t follow trends but even you might find 'pinspiration' in the info below with the associated 'opportunity' thought.
TREND: 'THINGS INSIDE POTS'
In a fast-paced world, people (your customers) seem to need reminders of how to slow down and inject a little humour in their day. There has been an increase in putting things inside pots - like tea infusers shaped like people and any animal you can think of. There has also been increased 'improved function' versions of pots - like those with additional 'appendages' e.g. tea bag holders.
Opportunity thought: How can you improve the usability of your existing product designs to solve a common customer issue?
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TREND: TEA ANYONE?
When the whole family gets 'tea themed' products for Xmas, you know tea is a trend! For 2015 I got a special 'turn-it-upside-down-and-see-no-leak' teapot for cold tea with a custom selection of wild flavoured organic teas from a family member (and everyone got something tea-themed).
People have extended on the previous year’s (and ongoing) ‘organic’ trend and rediscovering the natural remedies of teas and new combinations.
Opportunity thought: how can you work with local suppliers and specialists of local goods to package your products with theirs to create symbiotic marketing and sales opportunities?
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TREND: CUSTOMISATION TURNS DIY OR EXCLUSIVE
As anyone selling on Etsy knows selling customised products is big and isn't a new trend, however, the trend now leans towards two areas, at the opposite ends of scale:
- Packaging customisation in DIY products
- Taking customisation to 'exclusive' levels
The first area is exemplified by products that you can make yourself – duh – but taking it to a whole new level in terms of the variety of products and services you can DIY. There are some great links and articles in the Pinterest board for this.
The exclusive trend is an interesting one in terms of how might be applied to ceramics and pottery – unique and handmade pieces are obviously already quite exclusive in that there is usually limited production. However companies like Lee Jeans and Netflix took exclusivity to whole new levels in 2015 – in September 2015 Netflix created a gadget called “The Switch” “that automatically switches on the TV, launches Netflix, silences the phones, dims the lights and can even order takeout”. They did not sell it though – they gave everyone the instructions on how to make it themselves! The exclusivity in this respect came from the skills required to make the object (software and hardware programming).
Opportunity thought: Think about how you can ‘up the ante’ on providing DIY products or exclusive services to a targeted demographic.
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TREND: 3D PRINTING ADOPTION ACCELERATES
The 3D printing trend will continue to accelerate and become cheaper for anyone to produce with the technology starting to reach greater audience mass. In the technology world whenever a new technology is released, it tends to go through a typical adoption cycle (called the diffusion of innovations) – as an example, think of how much a desktop or laptop computer cost in the early 90’s (early adopter) compared to today (saturated market).
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Figure 1 –Diffusion of Innovations (source: Wikipedia, 2016)
Note also that the timeline for technology adoption differs from country to country. Through 2015 3D printing sat in the first phase of the early adopters area however, with the dawn of 2016, as a society we are quickly moving towards the early majority adoption phase. I predict it will still be about 2-3 years though before we start seeing the transition into fully fledged mass production as big print and hardware companies (with the appropriate funds behind them to do the mass production research) ramp up new product teams and technologies. I think in 5 years' time you'll see 3d printers going for $1k-5k instead of $5k-30k they are now, with many more features, bigger sizes and much better reliability - it is a typical tech cycle.
However in saying that, there are now companies who are printing clothes, 3d selfies (yes, really) and establishing startup 3D printing shops (for those of you ‘mature’ enough, think equivalent to Kodak photo processing shops prior to digital cameras).
Opportunity thought: if you are interested in 3D production, do a 3D printing course - 3D CAD Modelling software skills are essential to using this hardware.
Just remember before investing in 3d printing machines that the first iteration of any technology tends to be error prone and/or limited in features and expensive compared to what they will be down the road.
TREND: HAND-DRAWN AND HANDMADE STYLE (in style, if not in reality) and ANIMALS
This popular trend of the past couple of years doesn’t look like giving up anytime soon. However now the theme has morphed into mass manufacturing with the hand drawn element becoming a key element – often combining with other trends, especially tea, typography and animals.
Related to the hand-drawn theme, animals are a central design figure in homeware product design. Gorgeous prints and handdrawn animals are popping up around the house, from pillows to dinner and drinkware to bedding. The use of animals ranges from intricate and detailed hand drawn realism, through to stylistic and conceptual.
Opportunity thought: start a new trend! This one might have seen it’s days played out within the year with mass manufacturing splashing it everywhere.
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Would love to hear everyone else's comments and thoughts on 2016 trends - Happy 2016!