Remember back in 2020 when we thought ‘oh, this pandemic thing will only last a few months’ or ‘everything will be back to normal in 2021’?
Ha! If anything’s for sure about 2021 it’s that the world has changed for good.
And as small businesses, we need to adapt to stay relevant or our livelihoods will suffer.
But don’t freak out!
Today, I’m going to share with you the top 5 product trends I’m seeing already in 2021!
AND I’m going to give you some practical suggestions for how to implement them in your business.
PLUS, I’m going to talk about one e-commerce trend that may completely change how you do business.
Hi, my name is Mei Pak and I help makers, artists and designs make a living from selling their handmade products online.
This year, people are craving connection.
Products that encourage relationships are doing really well right now.
What do I mean by connection?
It could be anything that helps someone bond with a friend or family member.
For example, jigsaw puzzles and board games have been selling like crazy.
Because they’re things that families like doing when they’re at home together.
Greeting cards have also seen a massive jump in sales.
In a time when we’re all overwhelmed by zoom meetings and emails, sending a card to a loved one is such a sweet gesture.
If you’re an artist, these are fabulous avenues for you to diversify your product line.
There are numerous companies that can turn your art into a puzzle or greeting card.
Other product ideas might be:
- coupon books for chores around the house
- activity packs for kids
- and if you can come up with a board or card game… that would be freakin’ amazing!
Say you quilt, should you be zone-ing out right now and giving up on your business?
You’re going to love some of the trends I have below, but the trend of connection is about WAY MORE than just products.
Customers right now are also looking to build connections with the companies they’re doing business with.
This is the time to personalize your marketing and step up your messaging.
Did you know that personalized promotional emails have 29% higher open rates and 41% higher click-through rates?
Don’t believe me? Check out this article!
So use that name function in your emails.
Be sure your emails say “Hi, Sarah” or “Hi, Mei”.
If you aren’t already encouraging your customers to share photos of them using your product with you then start!
You’ll not only build great user-generated-content but also a chance to establish a relationship with your audience.
2. Health and Wellness
Health and wellness is BIG for 2021.
Sales of activewear and athleisure, water bottles, and yoga mats are through the roof.
If you’re a surface designer, this might be the time to look into sourcing new base products that can sport your work, like creating gorgeous water bottles.
If you’re a sewist, headbands and yoga mat bags are products to consider.
Or if you make paper products?
What about adding a ‘workout planner’ or calendar to your shop?
If you create stickers, you could make vinyl clings that track your water consumption on a glass, or what about workout sheets for planners for those of you guys who are stationery designers.
Health isn’t just about working out.
You could make:
- recipe cards for people who are cooking more healthy meals at home
- notebooks to track your veggie intake and sleep schedule and homemade protein bars
These are great options for food-related products that will do really well right now.
The possibilities are endless!
3. Self Care
We’re all stressed. The whole world.
There’s nothing like lockdowns, missed vacations, too many zoom calls, job insecurity, homeschooling, and anxiety about getting sick to put everyone on edge.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
Self-care is a huge trend for 2021.
- bath bombs
- beard oil
- luxurious soaps
- upscale nail polishes
- custom-blend essential oils
- hot cocoa blend
- wooden bath trays
- scented eye masks
- cashmere wraps
Anything that’s an at-home treat for your tired self is selling really well right now.
People are willing to spend money to make them feel like they’ve gone to a 5-star retreat, right in their own home.
Speaking of luxury, now’s a great time to think holistically about how you can deliver a luxury experience to your customers, if that fits your branding.
Does your packaging need an update?
Are you offering white-glove customer service?
Can you maybe tuck in a really sweet thank you note inside?
If you provide a high-end product, you can charge higher prices, which can mean higher sales figures with fewer customers.
I’m spending more time at home than ever, even though I’m already such a homebody.
And I know I’m not alone.
I’m more likely to have dinner delivered than go out, and watching a movie on Netflix than attending a live performance.
If you’re doing it… your customer probably is too!
Right now, lots of people are moving to houses further out of the city with more space or renovating their houses to accommodate a work-from-home lifestyle.
Or just looking around to freshen up their existing environment.
What can you offer that makes someone’s home a more awesome place to be?
I’m thinking about wall art, pottery vases, dinner plates, quilts, and blankets, even refinished furniture!
Depending on what you offer, you might even be able to hit two trends at once like offering custom quilts that highlight something special for the recipient.
That’s touching on the connection piece we talked about earlier, and a home product that will spruce up their living space.
What about a super-lush knitted blanket that looks great on the sofa.
That’s great for ticking the self-care and home improvement boxes.
You’re most likely working from home, too, right?
Take a look around and think about what you’ve been daydreaming about updating.
You might get some extra inspiration for what to sell!
5. Work from Home Life
2020 was the year of Zoom and it doesn’t look like that’s changing any time soon.
So, any product that improves your zoom-life will continue to be a big seller.
Things like lighting and vinyl backdrops help give a great background for Zoom calls.
Makeup has also been on the rise despite the lack of nights out, because you may be sitting in PJs, but you want your face to look great on camera.
You can also brainstorm any touchpoints your product may have with a zoom desk setup:
- laptop skins
- keyboard stickers
- plush chair cushions
- desk ornaments
- and even a fabulous mug fits into this category
This is also a chance to refresh your photography to capture the WFH trend.
Say you craft amazing, custom pet figurines.
Grab some photos of your items in a desk setting.
Then shift your copy to highlight that your product keeps their adorable pet front and center even while their door is closed on that annoying Zoom call.
Basically, audit your website and see how you can make your shop more relevant to the times.
6. Bonus! eCommerce
Now, I’m not going to let you go without spilling one e-commerce trend that’s happening that could be a game-changer for your business.
Premium private label brands.
Wait, what’s a private label?
You’ve seen this all the time in supermarkets and ‘home brand’ merchandise.
Your supermarket didn’t actually make the cereal that they’re selling with their label.
It was likely made by a major cereal producer who is willing to sell it wholesale to the market chain for less without the branding.
Notice I said PREMIUM private label brands.
I chatted a bit about this before when I was talking about self-care, but right now, customers are looking to treat themselves.
They’re more than willing to pay more for a product if it gives them a luxury feeling.
We’re not talking about discount cornflakes.
We’re talking about creams, soaps, food products, whatever… but they’re all super-luxe.
There are two ways you can get in on this trend.
One is to source a bulk seller with a fab product you’d like to offer and private label it for your company.
An example of this would be to connect with a goat farm that’s crafting a delicious goat milk soap and resell it under your own branding.
The second way to get in on the private label trend is to offer YOUR product to other companies who want to put their label on the product.
If you craft candles and would be able to handle a large capacity, you can look to connect with sellers who are happy to do the marketing and audience-finding themselves!
Because you’re selling your products in bulk, you don’t need a lot of clients or customers, and each order can be worth thousands of dollars.
It’s definitely a lucrative way to go about it if you don’t mind that your brand isn’t on the products.
I hope this glimpse at 2021 trends has inspired you to think about ways to amp up your business this year!
This whole pandemic thing has made the need for innovation and pivoting next-level!
I’m not going to pretend it’s easy.
A lot of businesses have been tested in the last year and many of them have had to close down because they couldn’t keep up.
If you’re considering that, I want you to know that by reading this post, you’ve already taken a huge step towards getting your brain thinking about new ideas.
And to shift your business into success mode, and that’s no small thing!
Any time there are big changes, I always make sure I get plenty of sleep and jot down any random idea that comes to me.
No matter how impractical it seems at the time.
Sometimes, those little flashes of insight are what set you in a completely new and fabulous direction.
If you enjoyed this post, leave a comment below.
Don’t forget to check out my YouTube Channel for more handmade business tips and secrets.