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Behavior and Innovation

Whether it’s fashion, food, tv, or music, we’re constantly surrounded by what’s “new” and trending. But, when it comes to the use of trends in marketing your product, no brand wants to be late to the party.

Given constantly evolving consumer behavior and innovation, how do you know if a new trend is worth investing in? In this article, we’ll explore how you can spot what’s trending, weigh its worth, then make an informed decision on whether or not to use that trend in your brand marketing.

Market trend or market fad—what’s the difference?

New trends help keep your company relevant and up-to-date, but not every popular hype is an enduring trend. Some are short-lived fads–here today, gone tomorrow. So, how can you spot the difference and know which trends are worth using in marketing materials?

New trends have staying power.

Trends can be a sign of changing technologies and customers’ tastes, preferences, and buying habits. Trends gain power over time. An innovator has an idea, and once the right people pay attention, the idea gains momentum and transforms into a new trend. Trends solve problems and represent innovative and new ways of doing things.

Trends gain power over time…a fad often burns bright and then burns out.

Streaming video—a new trend to solve customer problems.

Streaming video is considered commonplace today, but not long ago it was a radical innovation. Business skyrocketed for the companies that saw this innovation as a rising trend (and took advantage of it). In the early 00s, Netflix, known for in-mail DVD rentals, saw that customers wanted convenience in video rentals. Netflix envisioned a way to capitalize on that customer desire: streaming video. Netflix saw a problem, designed a solution, and laid the groundwork for future streaming services. The rest is history.

The dawn of streaming began with brands like Netflix and heralded a streaming revolution. Over a decade later, a new wave of streaming services continues to enter the market, with heavy hitters like Disney, HBO, Apple, and Comcast joining in.

Ultimately, trends are about solving customer problems. A new trend can gain momentum because it fills a customer’s desire or need and will flourish so long as there continues to be demand.

What’s the hype? Understanding fads.

Unlike a trend, which is a slow burn over time that becomes an explosion, a fad often burns bright and then burns out. You see fads when something becomes popular very quickly because it’s new or different from other products on the market.

Fads can be good or bad, depending on how they affect customers. For example, when a new food fad comes out (think: Cauliflower, Kombucha, etc.), people might be excited initially but will get sick of it quickly. Other popular fads can be a fun way to engage your customers and attract a new audience. (I mean, who didn’t love the Ice Bucket Challenge?) Ultimately, choose what’s trending wisely. While they might not last long, they can be great marketing opportunities.

Wordle inspires witty ads.

In January 2022, Wordle swept social media feeds across the world. Wordle was a free and straightforward guessing game in which a player solved a five-letter word in six tries. After each guess, the tiles changed color to indicate if the letter was correct but in the wrong position (yellow), incorrect (gray), or correct and in the right position (green). Once a player solved Wordle, they could share their triumphs on their social feeds. The shared social experience of Wordle elevated this free game into an internet craze (and companies took notice).

A person sitting on their couch playing Wordle

Riding the coattails of Wordle’s popularity, India’s largest dairy company, Amul, shared a photo of their brand icon “the Amul girl” playing Wordle and winning. Her tiles read, “Makes great bread.”

As Wordle’s title images flooded social media feeds, other brands took a different approach to the Wordle bandwagon. The sports world created anti-Wordle-inspired arrays of colored blocks on Twitter with the caption, “Not Wordle, just [insert what the blocks represent here].” The fad included the PGA Tour, The New England Patriots, The Texas Rangers, and others.

Fads can help brands stay relevant and help with marketing at the moment, but adjusting an entire marketing strategy to focus on a fad is not a sustainable strategy. Instead, find a way to incorporate a fad in your marketing campaigns. Use it as a gateway to get your brand in front of new audiences. Just don’t put all your resources into a fad, thinking it’ll be around forever.

How To Spot What's Trending

Knowing what’s trending can help you stay ahead of the competition. So, how can you stay on the cutting edge and determine which new trends and fads should make it into your marketing messages? The answer is to become a trendwatcher. A trendwatcher knows where to look (and who to follow) to find out what’s trending. Here are three ways you can be a trendwatcher:

01—Follow the right websites.

If you’re trying to keep an eye on the right trends for your market, follow the most relevant blogs and websites on the subject. These sources will do trend research for you and do a great job curating lists of trends for you to watch. But, because hundreds (if not millions) of websites claim to have a crystal ball to see the future, choose carefully. Factual websites with reports, services, and quantitative information may be your best bet to predict what trend is worth betting on.

02—Keep an ear on your customers for new trends.

Your customers know a thing or two about you and your competitors. Take notice and listen to what they’re talking about on social media and online. Research indicates that customers are sometimes the best indicators of where an organization is headed—some of the most successful companies do a great job listening to their customers.

Listening to customers is how L’Oreal’s stays on trend. The beauty industry can be challenging to predict. Product trends and customer demands can be fickle. What’s “in” and what’s not can change quickly. For global companies moving high volumes of product lines, making the wrong investment in a consumer trend can cost millions. When faced with what hair product trend to invest in, L’Oreal leaped into a new form of technology to help guide their decision-making—social listening. Armed with social listening, L’Oreal was able to take a deep dive into learning about consumer attitudes towards different hair color trends.

L’Oreal used Google search trends to identify the ombre hair color trend, then used that trend in their marketing to acquire 50% of purchases of their new Ombre Kit from consumers new to the hair color category.

Through a partnership with Google, L’Oreal scoured the internet and YouTube to look at both quantitative and qualitative research about what hair color effects consumers desired and potential issues they faced. This information was critical to their future product development.

How did it help L’Oreal? As the ombre hair trend took the world by storm in 2014, L’oreal already developed the first DIY home Ombre kit. Customers who had never used hair color before (but wanted trendy ombre hair) flocked to this product, helping L’Oreal expand their market reach.

L’Oreal capitalized on the ombre hair trend beating out the competition by listening to their customers. To this day, the product L’Oreal Feria Wild Ombre continues to be the most popular home Ombre kit.

03—Evolve with your industry.

Don’t ignore your competition. Your industry is constantly changing, and it has to. To know what trends are on the horizon (and being a part of it) requires staying on top of industry news.

Take advantage of industry reports and research. These reports will showcase emerging trends to consider using in your marketing and summarize valuable and relevant information on what is trending in your space.

Follow influencers within your sphere. While not all influencers have an ear on upcoming trends, as a whole, they can forecast the general direction a trend is moving towards, and this type of information will be easier to digest than an industry report.

Use various tools and analytics systems to identify trends. Tools such as Google Trends, Google Alerts, Google AdWords, and Moz can provide a big-picture perspective for what popular searches and queries are relevant to your company.

How To Make The Next New Trend Work For You

If you have a new trend or fad in mind that you want to be a part of, you’ll need to know how to weave it into your marketing strategy. Here are some ways to hop on a new trend and gain traction.

Four friends laying on their backs in a field and holding hands.

Social Media Marketing

Choose a platform that is right for your audience and your message. Use social media to highlight your brand’s commitment to a value fad or trend. This could mean a whole social media campaign or relevant posts. The fashion industry has quickly adopted social media marketing to highlight any new trends brands are focused on. For example, Stella McCartney uses social media to showcase new and innovative clothing collections and uses it as a platform to talk about the trends of sustainability, renewable energy, and diversity.

Influencer Partnerships

Influencer partnerships can help your brand reach new audiences, create brand awareness, generate leads, and accomplish other marketing goals. Why are influencers so powerful? One word: followers. Influencers usually have thousands (if not millions) of loyal followers who trust what they say and what brands they recommend. How can you best collaborate with an influencer?

  1. Events Invite influencers to events to showcase your products (especially large well-known events)
  2. Press trips Take influencers on a press trip to promote your product or service. The influencer will share this journey on their social media feed with their subscribers and followers.
  3. Blog posts Have an influencer write about you on their blog or social media.
  4. Gifts Provide an influencer with a gift in exchange for a review or exposure about your product or brand.
  5. Affiliate relationships Give an influencer a portion of the profits on any sales generated by a link or referral code.

A strong relationship with an influencer can help you reach a new demographic and strengthen your brand’s trust.

On-site Activations

An on-site brand activation lets your customers try your products in person and brings your brand to life. It offers an excellent opportunity for your brand to get customers in person, touching and feeling your product. On-site activations can also add an emotional pull to your customer since they are there in-person having an experience.

Often, on-site activations are at your storefront. However, they don’t have to be. Several brands have used outdoor music festivals as their venue for their on-site activations. REVOLVE, an online luxury retailer, has used Coachella as its on-site activation location for several years, leaning heavily on the presence of influencers and its core demographic (Gen Z) at this popular event. Other brands such as Sonic, the fast-food retailer, and Vitaminwater have also successfully used on-site activations to promote their brand.

Woman applying makeup in front of a ring light to show an example of how to use the trend of influencer marketing to sell products.

Brand Collaborations

Today, brands collaborate to create a more engaging customer experience. Customers are more likely to purchase a product if they know it is endorsed by a brand that they admire. Brand collaborations bring many benefits, such as the opportunity to reach new audiences, access to new markets, and increased exposure. If you’re hopping onto a new trend, think of doing a brand collaboration with a brand at the forefront. Successful brand partnerships like Nike and Apple show how co-branding helps both companies provide a better experience to customers and elevate brand awareness.

How can you keep trending?

Every brand will want to join in on a new trend or hyped fad at some point in its lifetime. But, don’t choose one just for the sake of being a part of the hype. Look for new trends and fads that resonate with your core customers, are aligned with your business strategy, and focus on the most relevant ones. And then, use these trends in your marketing strategy in a way that will captivate and attract your audience.

Don’t miss a new trend.

At Rebel, we use data and analytics to help your organization stay on top of the latest trends and chart new paths forward. Let’s work together to help your brand find truths in places you wouldn’t expect, to take you to places you never thought possible. Let’s chat.

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