Here on Customer Impact’s blog, we’ve explored many potential motivations for consumer behavior in the retail field. Some spend to celebrate holidays, some to preserve the environment and others, to receive their rewards from an ongoing loyalty program.
Trend-based purchasing just might trump all of them. It’s timeless, deeply rooted in cultural patterns, and very difficult to pin down.
What is trend-based purchasing?
Think of trend-based purchasing as a consumer behavior that revolves around the buyer’s perception of what other people are spending their money on. Those who participate are driven by a desire to share the same experience as their peers. They may seek this feeling of inclusion by using the same electronics, wearing the same clothes, or even eating the same foods as others around them.
Call it FOMO, in-grouping, or “keeping up with the Joneses” — humans have a primal need to understand and conform to the societies around them. This need transcends seasons, holidays, monetary incentives, and just about every other capitalist venture meant to encourage shopping.
The only trouble is that trends are impossibly elusive, and have only gotten dodgier since the advent of the internet. There’s no way for product manufacturers to reliably predict the next big thing. We’re all caught in the balance. Both consumers’ hunger to stay modern, and corporations’ hunger to hit the lottery by having a product go viral. After all, fads are fickle friends.
Here are some examples of trend-based purchase items that we found interesting:
The poster-child for this behavior, so why not jump right to it?
Sure, you could make it at home, but it’ll never reach that Instagram square level of visual luxury unless it’s purchased off of some brunch menu and served with a drizzle of sriracha and a smattering of cracked black pepper.
This apparently simple food item has been emptying millennial pockets for at least a few years but, as with most trends, no one really knows where it came from or when it will disappear from relevance.
First, Fitbit’s wearable smartwatch tracked steps, monitored heart rates, and encouraged owners to get more active. Then, the Apple Watch one-upped it by also operating as a tiny cell phone, even receiving texts and calls on its watch face-sized screen.
Now, a sleek black screen strapped to the wrist is all an American needs to look hip, classy, and financially comfortable.
The Fanny Pack
Fanny packs blossomed into cultural recognition at the beginning of 2018. Some attribute it to a female uprising against heavy oversized purses, while others think that a new generation of young adults are mimicking the 80’s style in a bout of unearned nostalgia.
Either way, chic adults everywhere are front-loading their practical items by strapping them around their waist.
DNA Testing swept in like a long-awaited party guest in 2017, and have since had several debuts on the 24-hour media circuit.
First, Senator Elizabeth Warren used her results to reach for academic favor by identifying as part American Indian. Then, the despised Golden State Killer was identified and apprehended after investigators tracked his chromosomes through Ancestry.com by creating a fake account with one of his old DNA samples.
These events, coupled with a unique generation of Americans who have lost the stories of their families’ immigration have stirred up quite a fan base for genetic testing.
Starting at $99, any user can track their family history and connect with long-lost blood relatives. There are even DNA testing options for pets.
The American Consumer
The American consumer may be a bit too eager to fork over big bucks in an effort to stay on-trend.
We’ll continue to keep our eyes peeled for the next big craze, and we’re always available to help those lucky companies who find themselves at the coveted intersection of sufficient supply and overwhelming demand.