Editor´s note: This is a guest post by Mostafa El-Bermawy, a startup growth and marketing strategist. 

The ecommerce growth potential in the natural health product industry is enormous – especially in Europe. Germany is one of the world’s largest markets for ecommerce and the number of online consumers is expected to grow to over 49 million  by next year. The natural health product industry itself is growing continuously, with annual increases in multiple segments, from beauty products to natural health foods.

In this vast market, things can change rather quickly. Staying on top of the trends can be difficult, but it can also be greatly beneficial to the success of your company. Here is what you can do to keep up.

Consistently Gauge Consumer Base

Since your business is online, you should be paying close attention to consumer trends and predictions. This can be based off of all kinds of research like social media monitoring, surveys, and more.

Germany’s online consumer base is quite unique; for instance, unlike other countries, males actually make up the majority of ecommerce consumers. Your business should be aware of facts like this and use them for your advantage. Mobile commerce is also growing rapidly among the German market (like the rest of the world), and is likely to take over as the most common channel for online purchases. Information like this should influence your web design and marketing decisions.

Going directly to the source to gauge interests and concerns will always be a reliable approach. This is an easy way to create engagement with your audience while also gaining valuable information and insight. Use sites like Survey Monkey to embed questionnaires and polls directly on your social media pages. You can also use them to create email campaigns, or place them on your website. Ask your followers and subscribers what products interest them or any issues they have regarding natural products. Feedback is invaluable, as it can help you to understand how to better serve your target audience.

Ultimately, customers determine the next trend based off of their purchasing power. Therefore, the best way to get ahead of the next trend in the natural health industry is by getting a sense of what your audience is looking for.

 Collaborate with Innovators

Combining forces with another brand can provide mutual benefits for both businesses. Not only does it potentially double your market reach, but it also provides credibility for the brands and it is highly effective for promoting new products or services. The key is to form partnerships with already established or up-and-coming brands and influencers.

Influencer marketing generates incredibly high returns; according to the latest research, businesses average 650% ROI from this strategy. Natural health companies regularly collaborate with health and wellness influencers as a way to connect with their loyal, and typically massive, audience.

HEJ Nutrition recently partnered with major influencer Pamela Reif to market their natural granola bars. Reif was named the most influential German Instagram account in 2016, so her audience reach is quite wide.

Pamela’s post alone received over 114,000 likes, and her account has over 3 million followers. This partnership greatly benefitted HEJ Nutrition, whose account now has about 38,000 followers.

Do a little research to find the people making waves in their field and are in touch with a market you wish to reach. Collaborate with them to create ideas for exciting content, whether it be a picture post, video, blog mention, or anything that captivates your ideal customers.

Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader Through Content Marketing

Establishing yourself as a knowledgeable source of information in the industry gives you the opportunity to influence trends by providing reliable insights to the market. Being the first site to release information about a new product gives you a distinct advantage as an industry leader, rather than a follower. Content marketing will also drive more traffic to your website by increasing internal links and keyword usage. In order to create a successful content marketing strategy, you will need to conduct intense research into trending keywords and topics.

Generating content that engages with your audience establishes your brand a credible source. Running a blog on your site is one of the best ways to do it. The Organic Pharmacy provides an excellent example of this.

The site regularly generates content about natural remedies, health concerns, and the benefits of organic ingredients. Their content provides beneficial information to their customers, and each post includes links that lead readers to a landing page where they can purchase the featured products.

Your company must provide content that will interest your customer base while highlighting your brands and products. For instance, if your company sells organic skin care products, your content should focus on the benefits of organic ingredients. Make sure that your content is not strictly focused on sales, which can easily turn customers off. Instead, provide information, explain concepts, and write about recent studies that relate to your field.

Conclusion

The ecommerce industry for natural health products provides a lot of opportunity, but also a lot of fierce competition. Staying ahead of trends will no doubt increase sales. However, it can be quite challenging to stay up to date in any industry. Engaging with your audience by asking their opinions can help you predict what the next trends may be. Partnering with influencers helps you to expand your audience reach and provide credibility for your brand. And finally, influence the next trends yourself by generating valuable content that establishes your company as a knowledgeable and trustworthy source for your customers.

Author Bio: Mostafa El-Bermawy is a startup growth and marketing strategist. Over the past 8 years, Mostafa has helped brands such as American Express, P&G and Ford Motors refine their digital marketing strategies. Mostafa is also a regular tech contributor for Wired and BBC Arabia. He currently lives in New York and heads Marketing at Workzone, a leading project management software startup.

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This is a guest post written by one of our contributors.