In a recent Marketing Week online newsletter, Colin Lewis examined the difficulty that marketers can face when trying to differentiate between fads and trends. Is a given development in the social or business environment just a flash in the pan or will it stay the course?
This is an important question for businesses when determining the best marketing strategies in relation to their target markets. This article has some important insights to offer and we would also like to add some advice of our own.
Gaining power over time
Titled “To identify real trends, imagine looking back on them from the future” the Marketing Week article cites a variety of examples where pundits and stakeholders were wrong in their predictions, sometimes disastrously so. For instance, disco music was perceived as a shallow fad in the late ’70s but returned as a major musical influence later. On the other hand, the dotcom bubble saw the spectacular collapse of internet-based ventures that had been seen as representing a lasting trend with a bright future.
Colin Lewis admits that marketers can find it difficult to differentiate between what could be a lasting trend or just a passing fad when they are right in the middle of a development as it unfolds. It’s a question of not seeing the wood for the trees and, as the title of the article suggests, he recommends examining what could be a potential trend as if given the benefit of hindsight.
He also quotes Seth Godin’s excellent definition of characteristics to look for: “A fad is popular because it’s popular. We enjoy a fad because our peers are into it as well. A trend, on the other hand, gains power over time, because it’s not merely part of a moment, it’s a tool, a connector that will become more valuable as other people commit to engaging in it. And it it’s only when the fad fans fade away that we get to see the underlying power of the trend.”
Experience and integrity
Marketing strategies that brands adopt may be geared to perceived trends that are gaining traction among their target audiences. On the other hand, they may aim to start a trend through an effective campaign.
That can work as long as it’s relevant to the brand and its ethos. The worst outcome is when the strategy is seen as cynical attempt to launch a bandwagon, which Marketing Week’s Mark Ritson felt was epitomised by the #Spycops campaign for the cosmetics company Lush.
Identifying genuine trends as opposed to passing fads requires the experience and skill that comes with years of involvement in marketing and communications. Creating marketing strategies that can have the lasting impact of a trend also demands these qualities, but also requires integrity and adherence to core brand values.
BBI Brandboost has over 20 years of B2B and B2C marketing experience across a wide range of industry sectors. We believe that this gives us the ability to plan and implement effective strategies that will stand the test of time.