Finding rural trends buried in big reports
Business Insider rounded up the trends reports from LinkedIn, Pinterest and other social-driven sites. They didn’t dig out the best trends for rural businesses and small town entrepreneurs, so I did that for you.
Retail is recycling
Pinterest points to vintage and mixed decor trends. That’s a good trend for rural antiques hunters, thrift stores and auction houses. Especially those who sell online and handle shipping.
LinkedIn says sustainability remains a hot topic, with vintage, secondhand and resale stores seeing a boost for clothing, too.
Related, in-person retail is coming back. Looks like more new stores opened than closed in 2022. Big note for small towns chasing retail, this may not be new construction. There’s “a rise in developers renovating and reimagining existing, outdated properties.” Listen, if anyone has existing outdated retail properties, it’s probably small towns.
Customers have paused in their rush to online shopping. Online sales shot up in 2020 and 2021, but 2022’s online shopping totals declined a bit.
Rural businesses could make more use of social influence to drive sales. You don’t have to be in a big city to use TikTok and other channels with hashtags like #MustHaves and #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. If you didn’t notice it in your own feed, Instagram turned into a yard sale with friends during 2021, as people redecorated and vintage home decor sellers boomed.
Tourism: trains and fun dates
Trains are making a comeback, Pinterest says. That’s pretty cool for small towns with active train service. Make sure you’re playing that up in your tourism.
Also this interesting dating trend: people are searching for experiences. Book store dates, date picnics and more. I’m saying that rural places could host the best date picnics ever, not to mention hiking dates, nature walk dates and stargazing dates.
LinkedIn’s report points to eco-friendly materials like those made from mushrooms and plants coming up. Lots of eco-friendly materials innovators are in small towns or rural places.
Shopify’s trends report shows big companies addressing ongoing logistics challenges in part by looking for more local supply sources. For small towns with idle manufacturing space or flexible makers, this is an opportunity.
Entrepreneurship on your side
Rural people have long had a higher rate of self-employment than urban people do. LinkedIn points to the rise in side-gigs or part-time businesses in addition to a main job. Maybe it’s not surprising that more of the youngest workers do this. Around 25% of Gen Z had a side-hustle, compared to 16% for all older folks.
A trend to tap is self-care, according to TikTok. With social channels as close as your phone, rural people can improve their offerings in “mental-health improvement, fitness, public health, and work-life balance.” Since we know that being in nature is good for you, rural communities are some of the best places to host self care experiences.
This article cited by:
- Ag Journal, Simple low-cost tips for small towns in year ahead, Jan 5, 2023
- Reprinted in the LaJunta Tribune Democrat and Bent County Democrat
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.