Are you a trendsetter or a trend-follower? Both have the potential to increase sales and profits. Trendsetters sometimes take big risks and invest a lot of capital up front. Trend-followers help perpetuate the trend.

There is wisdom in being a trend-follower as much as being a trendsetter, says Ray Lugtu, Jr., head of the Solutions Group at Microsoft Philippines.

“At times, a trend-follower detects and adopts a trend at an early stage, improves on it, and starts a new trend in itself,” he said in a column earlier this year in BusinessWorld.

Creating trends are a little more difficult in the green industry than in fashion or home improvement. After all, we’re dealing with live goods, and some of them are in the ground for years before they go to market. But Europe is one of the best places to watch for trends in the green industry. What’s trending there now will often end up in the States a year or two (sometimes more) later, whether it’s a marketing style, a container, or a plant color or type.

When looking for inspiration, don’t confuse fads with trends. Fads are short-lived, such as painted and glittered plants. (And that’s one fad that personally makes me cringe. But the consumers seem to like it and the green industry is making money from it, so more power to you, I suppose.) Trends have staying power, such as water conservation plants. Sadly, it took years of a devastating drought to turn that into a trend, but growers, retailers, landscapers and consumers are benefitting from it.

Turn to page 6 and dig into the 2017 green industry trends as seen by the Garden Media Group. While all of the trends GMG mentions are interesting, I think “forest bathing” is my favorite. There’s nothing like being surrounded by trees and listening to the sound of the wind nudging the leaves, or the songs of the birds perched on the branches.

Color, whether it pertains to fashion or home décor, often makes for trends that the green industry can use to its advantage. Each year, Pantone announces its color of the year with much fanfare. It gets television time, radio play and gobs of sharing on social media. If you’ve got plants that match (or even come close) to Pantone colors of the year, use that as an excuse to contact reporters and writers. Use it in your marketing campaigns. On page 10, we introduce you to Pantone’s spring color preview.

Trends are sometimes quite obvious, while other times it takes a lot of data mining to spot one. Social media is one of your greatest allies when identifying a trend. Also, read blogs, watch videos and poll your customers. Whether you’re a trendsetter or a trend-follower, the more trends the industry can identify, the more consumers we’re likely to attract.

Kelli Rodda, Editor