We all see trends, and we are part of it.
Trend is probably the most common phenomenon in 21st century, with the faster than ever information spreading. There were trends in old times, but not as prevalent and fast as today’s.
There is this usual approach for trends, people lean on it, and they can grow with the trend.
It’s a very common method. For example, a year ago the EA DICE Battlefield 1 game was very popular among the mainstream, so at that period, everything related to WW1 was “trending”. So, many content creators started to make WW1 content, to make it relevant. And not to surprise, anything related to WW1 at the time got the most attention.
By using this method, many people can just hitchhike the trend and grow themselves bigger.
So, this definitely would catch the attention for marketers. A question would pop up–how to monetize trends?
There are multiple ways to monetize trends. Because a trend is not difficult to spot, thus making money on them is pretty straightforward. In essence, stay relevant. That’s how you profit from trends.
If it’s Christmas season, start a Christmas sale campaign, be relevant. People would want Christmas presents. If it’s some phenomenon, like fidget spinner, start to sell them, people want relevant stuff.
These are pretty general stuff. So let’s get a little complicated here, if we can monetize trends, can we generate them? So that we can constantly monetize trends.
Short answer, no. A little longer and complicated one is, we can’t exactly generate trends but we can simulate them.
Trends do can be simulated, but they can’t be generated.
Trends seem very simple and blatant, but to actually cause a trend is a very complex combination of multiple social factors. It can relate to many aspects of human life.
So let’s deconstruct trends now and better understand them.
Basically, a trend has such basic features:
- Repetitive. Because it’s repetitive, they are trending. People see more of them, and they trend even more.
- Relevant and relatable. A trend has to be relevant and relatable to mainstream, otherwise it’s not going to be a “mainstream” trend. It can also apply to small niche, a small niche can have a specific niche trend that goes among this particular group.
- New. This is not a must feature. Many old activities or actions can be renovated into “new” trends.
- An existing userbase/community. The base does not necessarily need to be huge, but you need the initial amount to add in more members. Mostly, when trend happens, there is someone somewhere establishing something, and people would later get involved.
- Conformity. When you talk about something that “everybody does”, it definitely more or less involves conformity. Because everybody’s doing it, so you are also doing it.
Upon these features, we may can simulate a trend. But we can only “simulate” it, as I said earlier, a real trend is caused by multiple social factors combined. It’s a chemical process that generates these trends.
People tried to create trends, there were real examples of them doing it. And most of the times they fail.
A good example would be this year, or… last year (2017) beginning’s Pepsi ad. There were two trends at the time, one was fidget spinner, the other was that Pepsi ad, which was very controversial and criticized.
Corporations always want to generate trends, so that their products sell more. The Pepsi ad is a typical example of a failed attempt. They didn’t create a trend that everybody wants to hop on, but rather a fully criticized.
The Pepsi ad contains the basic features above, it was well simulated, as many people saw it and had comments about it. It became very popular. This fits the standard of repetitive.
Pepsi wanted to make it relevant and relatable, that’s why they picked riots as their ad’s theme. Something has been constantly going on in recent years.
It was new. Nobody had ever seen that ad before, the combination of coke/cola and riot was pretty new.
Pepsi definitely had the existing userbase.
People argued about it, people commented about it, that drove even more people argue and comment about it. Fits the conformity standard.
So what went wrong? Why the trend failed, and failed so hard it became an overall meme and an example of fail marketing and advertizing?
Like I said, a trend is a very complicated combination of multiple social factors. Many contemporary events, personal affairs, environment, all together could catalyst a trend.
That’s why it’s so unpredictable. A lot of times people did something and it became a trend they had absolutely no foresight about it.
Corporations’ big ad campaigns sometimes can’t beat a small family trend later turned viral across the nation.
If people can really master trends, there will be thousands more millionaires out there.
Let’s dissect why Pepsi ad became a failed trend. So first, was it a trend? Kind of, it was a trend but a trend short-lived. So it was “simulated”. Apparently, as we can see, purposefully generating a trend is probably the reason why it can not become a trend. Normally, a standard trend would last at least 2 to 3 months. Some quality trends can last even longer, half a year or a year longer.
The Pepsi ad is relatable but it resents most people’s beliefs, or values. This is the biggest point criticized by many people. If something wants to become a trend, it has to correspond with the audience’s values or beliefs. The mistake Pepsi made is clear.
It was new, but kind of not new. Pepsi has been doing their ad campaign for decades, ever since the company started. There is this “overdo effect”, if people have seen something in the past and too frequently, they would get weary of it.
The ad was very short, it can be viewed multiple times in a row. Very repetitive and proliferative.
There are multiple possible reasons why public resented this ad.
The beginning of 2017 was not a good beginning for many Americans, Trump just won the election and the inauguration happened soon afterwards. A seemingly political propaganda ad appeared at the time was definitely not a good call for many people.
There was also the Charlotville white-supremacy riot. A real riot happened not long after the inauguration, the political situation was even more unstable.
Kylie Jenner, a popular and controversial personality. Her personal life is basically entertainment and drama. She does not look very suitable for the situation where thousands of people rioting on the streets she came out and held peace with Pepsi……
Nobody likes politics. Ads should not be political appealing, it should be emotional appealing.
Or maybe people just generally hate Kylie Jenner and Pepsi. It was plausible.
This is down to this specific case, with specific outcomes. Other cases would have their own specific causations.
You never know how public would react to something, hence the reason trends are unpredictable.