Understanding Consumer Trends

An area that is in continual flux is the buying habits and consumer trends that many industry’s experience throughout an extended period of time. Businesses that have been operating for more than 20 years typically have seen a major shift in consumer buying patterns 4-6 times (varying based upon retail or wholesale exposure) that has caused them to rethink or reorganize their business model.

It is important to identify these trends for your particular market in order to make sure that you are getting your message out appropriately to your customers in the Durham, NC area.

Many of these trends are fueled by the media as they place emphasis periodically on different characteristics of business; so, it’s important to make sure that you follow what’s being said about your particular industry in the media as well. The Durham, NC area is not exempt from these shifts in consumer trends.

Bull City Signs likes to keep its finger on the pulse of marketing trends as to better serve their customers; let’s look at some information these consumer trends and examples on how it can help you with your Durham, NC area business.

What are Consumer Trends?

Consumer trends are: patterns of buying habits that are tracked based upon economic, political or social influences. Properly understanding how these trends work will help you in your marketing efforts in order to make sure that the message about your Durham, NC area business is being well received.


Probably the most volatile consumer buying market that’s been recorded over the past 50 years is small arms sales. The purchase of guns in America can be directly tied to consumer trends, especially when comparing to political or social influences. When the media and Hollywood come out against guns, sales suffer. In an economic downturn where crime rates rise, sales go up. When the political culture from the federal state and local governments focus on guns as a leading cause for crime, sales suffer. When this political culture shifts to individual and civil liberties, sales go up.

As you can see this roller coaster of consumer shifts can significantly impact a small business, even in the Durham, NC area. These same trends can easily be tracked in major markets such as the automotive industry, advertising industry and healthcare industry. (Many analysts use these three industries to measure the pulse of America’s consumer buying habits).

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The Rise of the Diversification Trend

In 2006, a shift in political structure brought about a change in cultural philosophy that significantly impacted small businesses across America and in Durham, NC. Mayors of cities were desperate to bring in big business for tax revenue dollars at the very expense of small business owners.

The media was pushing big-box stores with imports from China as the “New American Mindset”. By 2010 analyst were reporting some of the lowest numbers recorded in 50 years for small business startups with direct ties to fears regarding the affordable healthcare act, its effects and misunderstanding of how it would be implemented. This instability of four years forced businesses to begin to diversify to survive.

The trend of the one stop shop became a necessary move for many small businesses on the Durham, NC area to remain competitive:

  • Transmission specialty shops began to push full-service maintenance and repairs
  • Body shops began to offer full detail services and tire sales
  • Pet stores became retail outlets selling toys, food, pet training classes seeing a few (oddly enough) with pet funeral services.
  • The explosion of small-town pharmacists turning into retail sales centers selling magazines, alcohol, matchbox cars, etc. to keep up with the box store giants of Walgreens and CVS was quite apparent in the industry.
  • Newspapers began offering flyer distribution services, printing, direct mail and a shift towards website sales.

All across the country small businesses were forced to either diversify or fold as the consumer shift was the one stop shop towards convenience.

Then the One Stop Shop… Stopped

In 2014 a consumer shift was noted in the home-improvement industry that signaled that the One Stop Shop mindset… may have stopped. As the housing market was seen to correct itself and consumer confidence began to return in the Durham, NC area, so did the desire to get quality service and a better product. A demand for specialized services started to increase as customers no longer wanted the generality of a home improvement service but wanted the specific expertise of a painter, HVAC, plumber or flooring expert.

This trend continues to develop through 2017 as we see a consumer trend that desires better quality materials and a more laser focused level of workmanship where small businesses are specializing in a particular product or service. Customers in the Durham, NC area are now demanding to know their doctor and pharmacist my name rather than a number on an ID card. They expect personalized service from their auto repair facility and don’t mind paying extra. More and more companies are discovering this change in trend as you see marketing companies shift to focusing on those that “specialize in:” certain products or services.

While there are still certain demographics in the Durham, NC area that have become comfortable with the “convenience” mindset; even they have returned to buying pizza from the pizza place rather than from their local gas station.

Trust the Experts

Bull City Signs is pleased to be your full Service Sign and Graphics leader, specializing in attention grabbing graphics, Electric signs, banners and more. We have the equipment, knowledge and expert staff to handle your sign and graphic needs for the Durham, NC area.

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