Change is the only constant, and where last year saw fro-yo as one of the hottest trends, the 2014 international franchise stage is set to bring new contenders.
Here’s a look at five franchise industries thriving in the US that can address local problems brilliantly.
Trend 1: Kids
Internationally, the continued success of kid-centred franchises over the past several years is evidence that parents are always willing to sacrifice in order to give their offspring a leg up.
And thanks to franchising, they’ve got lots of options, from early-learning child-care programmes and traditional tutoring, to an increasingly diverse collection of fitness, recreation and enrichment businesses.
The big international trend this year is science and engineering. Bricks 4 Kidz, a Lego-engineering programme that has been franchising since 2009, jumped into the No. 1 spot of the 2014 US Franchise 500 enrichment category amid several competitors.
Trend 2: Food
No shocker here, but where burgers, pizza and fries have dominated, a newer franchise and emerging trend to watch is healthy vending.
It’s an industry that has shied away from franchising in the past, but three companies that started franchising only in the past few years — Human Healthy Vending, Fresh Healthy Vending and IceBorn — made the Franchise 500 rankings. Others may soon follow in their footsteps.
Trend 3: Fitness
In the US, 20 fitness franchises made this year’s rankings, up from just 13 last year, and almost half have been franchising for less than five years. For many in the fitness industry, fast growth is fuelled by business models that offer much lower start-up costs for franchisees than old-school big-box gyms.
They also offer more varied and unique fitness options to consumers, such as dance, martial arts and stroller fitness. Particularly popular right now is kickboxing, with several franchises in the ring fighting for domination.
Trend 4: Seniors
As life expectancy grows, so does the need for senior care. With 21 companies making the Franchise 500 ranking this year, senior care has become one of the biggest categories in the US. Its growth shows no signs of stopping with the rising percentage of those 65 and older.
Non-medical home care, meant to help seniors maintain their independence, is still the primary service offered by franchises in this category. In the past few years, however, several companies have added supplementary services to the mix such as medical care and staffing, senior-living referrals and transportation.
Trend 5: Personal Electronics
The popularity of tech franchises has waned in recent years, but the rise of smartphone and tablet use has given birth to a new breed of businesses that are breathing life back into the category.
There are only a few of them so far, but franchises offering sales, repairs and accessories for personal electronics are growing fast and climbing up the Franchise 500 rankings. More competition is sure to come in the next few years.