People love trends. They are exciting, filled with dopamine rush in our brains as we feed our curiosity and learn something new and are able to participate in something buzz-worthy. It is fun, and no wonder why we love to obsess about trends.
Companies and business strategists also love trends, as they can easily capitalize on such trends, without much effort. Focusing on consumer trends and their obsessions, it is damn easy to push sales up with almost guaranteed success.
But the laws of nature are unforgivable – what goes up must go down. What was once popular inevitably one day will be forgotten. This is what happened to the pagers, mp3 players, and movie rentals, downloading the music, netbooks, escape rooms, and many more. They all were at the top of the trend and then declined, disappeared, or transformed into something new.
Time and duration
Trends are not created equal. They differ by many factors, but most importantly, interest over the time period and whether it rises or falls. Businesses should be mindful of this and not get carried away by the hype of a trend and simply expect it to lift their business.
The life cycle of a trend varies depending on the subject of discussion. Some trends are long-term, some are mid-term, and some end with a short cycle. Companies should set clear goals on what they want to achieve out of a specific trend and work around the trend. Such trends come in the form of Super Long, Long, Medium, Short, and Micro-trends.
A micro-trend runs across a super short time frame. It can range a few hours, a day, or few days and come in the form of a viral video, an event, a micro celebration, meme, and gif. Remember that kid singing in Walmart, buzz when there’s an Apple event, Space X rocket failure/success, a USA president says or tweets something? Instantly everyone talks about it and within a short time, the interest is lost.
Such trends create a shorter social interest by touching our emotions. Such emotions can be happiness, sadness, anger, compassion, or joy, which we tend to talk and share. When emotions created by a trend event fades – the trend falls as well.
Micro-trends are short-lived, unpredictable, unmanageable, and rarely repeatable. Such trends feature either a person, event, or an object and fade away in quick time, as people move on. The emergence of a new trend diminishes an existing trend.
Trying to make gains out of a micro-trend needs careful and quick action by businesses. It is best to use such trends only to attract basic attention to your product. Trying to advertise your product, brand, or solution during micro trends may backfire. Such efforts may look fake.
Short-term trends range from a few weeks to a couple of months. Micro-trends can become short-term trends, yet, not all short-term trends start as micros. News on rising inflation, Boston dynamic robots doing human things, Planking, Coldplay’s song Magic – a thing that went viral and was so catchy that it managed to stay in people’s minds for a while to create further discussion.
Short-term trends often originate from a community and then expand to other communities. It attracts attention from forums such as Reddit, blogs, YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. Opinions, music, tech, fashion, film, art, and so on all go through such trends.
Short-term trends are bigger than the ones created by accidental attention-grabbing content. You can identify them when the same topic comes up from multiple sources at the same time. Friends, family, co-workers, and even the media start to feature them with stories such as – what are NFT’s, Clubhouse, VR/AR, etc. and why you should care.
If you want to enter into a short-term trend, you need to act fast before it is too late. Entering a trend when it is declining will disable you from capitalizing from it. While at the same time not acting upon short-term trends, while it becomes a long-term trend can be a missed opportunity. Especially when such a trend happens in your specific niche industry with a technological or ideological revolution.
Blackberry thought that touchscreen typing is just a short-timed trend. It wasn’t. Now there are no more Blackberry phones. Many in car industry thought that electric cars are just a short-term gimmick. Apparently, it’s not, and now they are lagging heavily behind Tesla. Just look at the past development in your industry, and I am sure you will identify what was and what wasn’t the short-term trend.
The safest route is to keep an eye on the industry-specific news, thought leaders, social media, and media overall. This close watch will help you be aware of new developments, such as new market information. Such information could be concepts, products, company information, updates, product development, and plans. By monitoring reactions, comments, and sentiment, one can gain massive insights into their own product’s future development.
A long-term trend may go from months to a couple of years. They do not appear out from anywhere, as they have roots in smaller and larger short-term trends. Long-term trends start, then lose the mass appeal to later – reappear. The reappearance occurs when people once again start showing interest in the subject.
The cycle of a long-term trend is to grab attention, emerge, cooldown, and reappear again. According to Gartner’s Hype Cycle, when the Virtual Reality (VR) concept emerged, it promised to change the way we interacted. When the promise was not kept, it went out of the market and remerged to fulfill the early promise. The same story goes with NoSQL databases, crypto, short videos (remember the Vine, it was basically TikTok), and other similar subjects.
Long-term trends offer stable and secured returns. If you’re an early adopter of the trend, you can ride the wave of the ongoing hype and achieve the desired goals. If you want to make gains, focus on the early adopters, but don’t try to please everybody. Once you get in, focus on the rest of the audience.
Apple does it well when introducing new product lines. They watch a trend, position themselves, and when necessary, calibrate the product. The App Store was never in their plans, but developers just kept coming up with software for the iPhone. As the trend and interest grew, Apple acted on it and turned the product to reach $72 billion in revenue.
There are two strategies companies can adopt to capitalize on a trend. Entering early and targeting early adopters are excellent moves towards making gains.
The second option is not to rush to be the first, but keep your eyes open, take time and offer the right product. While iterating on other competitor shortcomings, make the product most comfortable, cheapest, exclusive, and entertaining. Iterate where others failed to fulfill customer demands or reframe existing selling points to gain a niche in a trend that has room to grow.
Apple iterated on smartphones, and moved to an all-screen no buttons smartphone, and captivated the trend. Afterward, Samsung made a push to large-screen smartphones and led the trend of large-screen devices for the rest to follow. Bitcoin started the decentralized service trend, and Ethereum made it accessible for everyone.
Be there on time or improve or better – both!
Extra Long Term Trends are the slowest and the longest ones. They run for decades and evolve slowly over time, shaping generations. Extra-long-term trends consist of all previously mentioned trends. The world will go through phases of transformations, and the trend will follow along.
Space exploration began in the 80s with JFK’s race to the moon was stopped by budget cuts in 2000, and regained new interest with Space X, Blue Origins, Virgin Galactic, and more. Nowadays, there are plenty of startups, privately developing smaller and larger space survival, and Mars colonizing technologies. In the 80s and 2000s, this was an unimaginable feat, however, nowadays, private space companies, small and large, are a thing.
When compared with others, extra-long-term trends move super slowly. They are easy to enter, but making it profitable may be a challenge. In the past, some ideas and products would change the world, but they were ahead of their time. MS courier before iPad, Google glass before something that is yet about to come.
The issue with extra-long term-trends is that they are going to play a big role in our lives, but what we don’t know is when the mass adoption is going to take place.
For example, we all know, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is going to play a big part soon in our lives. Autonomous driving will take over manual driving. Technologies focusing on sustainability and greener environments will take center stage. All such developments will come into effect during the life cycle of an extra-long trend. The challenge for marketers is to identify the exact point the change will come in.
Companies should pay close attention to the developments taking place within a trend. Understand the evolution of the trend. View it in a larger perspective, but focus on smaller time frames.
Companies can take advantage of longer trends by aligning and collaborating with other parties. Extensive research on trends can help companies make millions or billions. Such gains will help their stakeholders, and if done, those firms can become ‘Change Makers.’
Entering a trend
Trends are great opportunities for strategists and marketers to elevate a product to another level. But how to do so is a question faced by many. It all depends on the strategy you follow to achieve the desired goal.
Trends can move upwards or downward. A look at the trend will show you where the action takes place, competition comes in, and also the point of saturation.
Where there is an upward trend, there is demand for more, and opportunities for one or more players to enter the market. An upward trend attracts more players, and the market becomes competitive.
It becomes oversaturated when more market players fight for a smaller share. The market gets oversupplied, surpassing the demand, customers start to lose interest because their needs such as shapes, size, price categories, and colors are fulfilled.
The present smartphone market is extremely saturated and is fulfilling practically every possible demand. Nothing interesting and exciting happens there anyway. Although the market value is big as $409 billion and capturing a small fraction would be worth it. This trend is already declining and consumer interest is not what it used to be. What was once the trend of all trends has become a boring utility.
Ditching this insanely huge extra-long-term trend in favor of a much smaller long-term trend would provide more opportunities, lesser competition, and room for more spotlight in the eyes of the customers.
Conclusion and future work
Trends are unique and different, they have different durations and magnitudes and also ways to play them out. Now you know a more structured way of doing it. But this is not in our way to befriend a trend post series. We need to talk about positioning ourselves in the trend and make the most out of it. More is about to come, so stay tuned!