I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporation's (OACFDC) annual conference this week in Niagara Falls. The event welcomed over 300 people from across Ontario and was hosted by the Venture Niagara Community Futures Development Corportation. The conference was from May 16-18 including a number of workshops and guest speakers. These guest speakers included Gord Paynter, blind comedian and motivational speaker, Sami Jo Small, Olympic gold medalist for women's hockey in Salt Lake City, William Thomas, Candian author and comedian and Dianne Buckner, Dragon's Den host and CBC small business columnist. They were all great speakers, but Dianne offered some insight into the trends in new business ideas on the Dragon's Den.
The Dragon's are currently in the process of taping pitches for their sixth season which will air in September. Dianne was nice enough to share the trends she has seen over the past six weeks.
Trend #1- FOOD
Food has always produced new and innovative ideas, but the ideas have really focused on organic, natural, rare or life changing products. For example, Prairie Berries made a deal with Arlene Dickinson to turn Saskatoon berries into a worldwide phenomenon by focusing on their anti-obesity properties.
Trend #2- MOBILITY AND PORTABILITY
Dianne mentioned that text messaging has increased by 74% over the last year suggesting just how important mobily devices have beome in our day to day life. Whether it Tweeting, checking bank balances or just playing a quick game of Angry Birds, new ideas that provide the convenience of mobility are on the rise.
Trend #3- "BOOMER BUSINESS"
Let's just say that Baby Boomers aren't exactly baby boomers anymore! This has created a need for innovative services to help an aging population with things such as shopping, downsizing to a smaller home and anything health and longevity related.
Trend #4- SOCIAL MEDIA
More and more people are using social media that they swore they would never use. Businesses are coming up with new additions to social media that already exists, new ways to use social media or new forms of social media altogether.
Trend #5- GREEN BUSINESS
This trend is anything associated with being eco-friendly whether its new forms of renewable energy or products that allow the consumer to have a small carbon footprint.
Trend #6- ONLINE DATING
It seems fitting that Dianne would recognize online dating as a trend- the newest dragon set to make his first appearance in September is Bruce Croxon, the cofounder of Lavalide. Apparently, the online dating industry is now worth $4 billion worldwide. With the increase social acceptance of online dating as a viable way to meet your potential partner, many businesses have come up with new ways to offer innovative online dating services to their clients.
Trend #7- CUSTOMIZATION
Starbucks has been successful because of the many customization options available to customers; "I'll take a grande low fat chai latte made with soy milk, extra whipped cream and no cinnamon with room." There are many examples of businesses allowing the consumer to customize the product- Marble Slab, Jones Soda, Subway, Mongolian Grill, Build A Bear, and even iPods can come preloaded with the songs you like.
Trend #8- PETS
There has been a definite increase in pet related products, especially for cats and dogs. This can include anything for pets or pet owners such as Doggie Day Care, personalized pet products or specialized food.
Trend #9- CONVENIENCE
Time is at a premium for everyone and so businesses that cut on time for the consumer are becoming extremely popular. For example, there are businesses where the consumer can prepare frozen dinners using pre-prepared ingredients and not have to worry about the prep and clean up of preparing for a week's worth of dinners.
Trend #10- FITNESS
People are easily bored by work out programs to begin with so new fitness trends are always changing. Consumers are always looking for someting new and fun so there's always room for business ideas focussed on business.
This concludes the top 10 trends as Dianne Buckner has seen on the auditions on Dragon's Den. For more information on the Dragon's, visit their website.