Business Trends to Watch for in 2012

By Jean D , last updated January 5, 2012

It would be ideal if you could look into a crystal ball and know exactly what will be hot in the business world in 2012. You'd know just what sorts of companies in which to invest in order to see a big profit, and you'd know just how to prepare your company for the hot trends that are sure to mean big success. Unfortunately, no one has built the perfect crystal ball at this time, although it's likely that some inventor is feverishly working on a prototype at this very moment. In any case, there are a few trends that seem like safe bets in 2012, based on economic activity in 2011. These are just a few examples.

Sharing Means Caring

Now more than ever, consumers are interested in sharing items instead of actually owning them. Companies such as NetFlix, ZipCar and RentCycle have made their fortunes on the idea that people would prefer to use something for a time and give it back when they're done. No maintenance costs are involved, and yet the consumer can have the item on demand. As the economy continues to slide and people remain concerned about their economic future, expect this trend to continue. A consumer may not be likely to invest in a bicycle when he expects to live in his parent's basement for the next year. Renting might seem much more attractive.

Deals Rule

The popularity of shows like Extreme Couponing and the rise of online deal sites such as Groupon highlight the fact that times are tough and people are still interested in finding great deals. Programs like this also have an aspect of competition that some consumers find appealing. Knowing that they're saving $20 when their neighbor is saving nothing at all remains a big draw. Companies that publicize the amount the consumer can save in an exclusive program may be able to capitalize on this trend.

On the Go

The popularity of the iPhone and the Tablet demonstrate that people want to be connected, no matter where they are. Consumers expect their businesses to feel the same way they do, and they expect all companies to have a robust online presence. Companies that can provide assistance with online tools such as gamification, Facebook and mobile apps should have a great 2012.

Love in My Tummy

The niche food market received a big bump in 2011, and it remains big at the start of 2012. Artisan foods containing local ingredients seem to appeal to a young and hip market, but an entirely different sector of the market is drawn to extreme foods that use strange and exotic meats in all sorts of innovative ways. Investors looking for a project would do well to invest in a restaurant, food cart or bakery in 2012.

Freelance is King

Fewer companies are relying on traditional employees to round out the workforce. Instead, an army of freelance employees is growing. These workers are often young and mobile, and they're ready to work anytime and anywhere. Companies that can find talented workers and link them to the employers that need them should do quite well in 2012.

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