We’ve had the 60s with its trend of platforms, we’ve also had the 70s with its trend of slightly higher platform shoes, then came the 80s with chunky kicks that can only be described as platform shoes and that was closely followed by the decades that I remember best, the 90s and 00s, which alas also sported high soled footwear.   Now we’re in the…? Um, what do you  actually call this decade..?  Anyway, now that we are nearly halfway through said decade the platform is once again gracing the magazines, the shelves of our shoe shops and our feet.

As much of a shoe fanatic as I am, that was not a shameless plug for platforms, the analogy was meant to highlight that trends have been around for a long time and rarely disappear but instead just get remodelled, or reinvented.   So how do you remodel something to keep up with trends?

Well, take the massive sporting event that I believe is to begin today, hundreds of thousands of people have world cup fever and you don’t have to go far to see a demonstration of this.  Visiting my local supermarket the other day I noticed just how many popular and influential brands had “re-invented” themselves specifically for the four yearly event.  Take the popular, stackable crisps that comes in a tube, no longer are these Pringles but Pringoooooals.  And then you have TVs being sold with the slogan “Football…what Football”… Of course, being in the Marketing game I was aware of what all this was alluding to and it got me thinking of how companies can take advantage of wider trends or fads to benefit their own business.

Firstly, what are trends and fads from a marketing sense and what is the difference between them?  The distinction between the two is actually quite simple. Fads are short-lived. Think Harlem Shake, Crazy Frog, Gangnam Style, Trainers with Lights on them, Mr Blobby…you get the drift. We love them for a short burst of time and then three months later say “Did I like that?”.  Fads follow a classic cycle: insider discovery, followed by media craze, followed by mainstream embrace, then a very quick and swift exit from our minds.

Trends on the other hand have staying power. Think of fashion (see earlier platform analogy), social media (hashtags have been around a while now), iPhones, and so on and so forth.  Trends take longer to build and their effects may be felt for years, even decades.

So how can you take advantage of these fads and trends?  Well firstly it may sound obvious but you need to be aware of what is in trend or ‘en vogue’ at the time. Google Trends is a great way of establishing what people are searching for online. Also, Twitter has trending information which can be great to see what is happening in the world. The only downside to these is that they are quite short term trends. The media, and generally wider exposure of something is a great way of knowing what is on trend. What is being talked about everywhere? What are others doing? Sometimes a trend will be so apparent. Other times though it may be a slow burner.

But how can you tap into trends? Well firstly is there any link between your product and a trend. For example, as mentioned earlier the World Cup is about to start. Is there any way you can theme or market a product based on the world cup? Is there an international flavour? Does your product or service compliment the event or trend (do you sell takeaway food, flags, sports equipment, hangover remedies…). Can your product have a sales lift due to a trend?

Additionally, is there anything your company can do to launch a limited product or promotion to harness a trend?

Can your company adapt a brand or even your name for a limited time? Just like Pringoooals…

Can you offer competitions linked to a trend? Even if you aren’t directly related can you work this into your message and added value proposition?

Social media wise, trends are easy to take advantage of. What viral video or what content are people craving and sharing?

Take advantage of hashtags. These are always a great way to tap into a wider conversation on Twitter and Facebook and great way to get noticed. Pop them at the end of your tweets or Facebook posts. Try and provoke conversation and drive traffic to your social sites through competitions etc. (for example tweet with #wcwinner to our Twitter handle to win… )

Can you theme a mailpack or customer communication around an event.  The Royal wedding was really good for this as everyone wanted champagne and party food, or something to commemorate the day.

One word of caution though, do not get too attached to a trend or fad and lose sight of the core of your business, and remember also, the likelihood of your customer relating to the trend or fad you have identified, you don’t want to alienate them.

OK, so with that said and done I think it’s time to step away from the football and talk about something a little less ubiquitous, next week we will look at your business’s secret weapon!

How to Take Advantage of Trends in Marketing
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