Spot the Big Difference Between Trends and
Fads in Marketing


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Marvel movies, clogs, “It’s corn, I can’t imagine a more beautiful thing” on TikTok. Those are fads.

Social media, recreational marijuana, artificial intelligence. Those are trends.

Can you tell the difference?

Whether we realize it or not, trends and fads play a major role in our everyday lives. They influence the clothes we wear. How we find the people we date. Or how we listen to the bands we love.

Often used interchangeably, the two categories are actually very different. For example, a trend begins slow, takes time to gain momentum and has greater staying power. Fads on the other hand, rise quickly in popularity and fall just as fast.

The difference between a trend and a fad is their power of endurance. Fads fade while styles and trends extend and even evolve over time.

To find out how to embrace a trend or fad (plus more examples of differences of fads vs trends), let’s dig a little deeper.

Eyes to what's next — trends may help build your business for years to come while fads fade away. trends and fads ebb and flow like the tigress & euphrates.

Trends + Examples of Trends

For brands today, learning to spot something #trendy is essential.

Trends tend to fill a need or serve a purpose. Because trends offer something of value to their audience, they are widely used and successful for a longer period of time. A good way to figure out if a trend is truly a trend is to see if there is growing, multi-year data that demonstrates it has an effect on the market.

Because of their value, it’s often wise for companies to incorporate trends into their business strategy. Trends can provide helpful information for decision making, especially in terms of marketing strategy. If a company ignores a trend, they do so at their own risk. Oftentimes, the result of ignoring a trend can lead to the forced adoption of the trend at a later date. Now the business is behind the curve or even worse, it can lead to the early demise of the company.

Social media is a perfect example of a trend. It has increased in momentum (users) over time; the modern use of social media has been prevalent for about 20 years now, thus demonstrating a strong staying power; and it fills its audience’s need for connectivity.

TikTok is a later iteration of the social media trend that has impacted many industries for nearly 20 years.

Read examples of trends and fads in the 2023 social media landscape here.

Fads + Examples of Fads

From bellbottoms to fidget spinners to collecting beanie babies, fads are fun and fresh, and widely loved — until they go out of style. While trends satisfy a need, fads exist on more of a surface level. They serve as a temporary novelty — they may be in one season and out the next. That’s why they have a quicker start‐up momentum but are also quick to burn out. Fads are contained bursts that appeal to a smaller audience.

You go-to style of jeans? An example of fads.

While these examples of fads and trends are exciting and can help a business remain relatable and current, they can be tricky to take advantage of. If a business jumps onto a fad’s bandwagon too late, they can be perceived as out of touch and behind the curve. This results in a waste of time, energy and — ouch!—money. However, if a fad is artfully employed as a momentary tactic at the height of popularity, it can boost a company’s relevance.

Sure, it might be fun for a business to use the newest fashion fad in their next advertisement or post a video of their office doing Lizzo’s 2 Be Loved TikTok dance (hello, summer 2022!). But these are probably not things you’d want to incorporate into your company’s budget or long-term strategy.

5 Ways to Identify Trends and Fads Before Your Competitors

Spotting the next trend or fad before it hits culture or the business world at large does not come naturally to everyone. Here are a few suggestions and ideas for seeing fads and trends when they’re on the rise and still in a general development phase.

  1. Anticipate change.If you are in the business of providing a service or product, you exist to solve problems for your consumers. Your important role is serving their interest and helping make the future better and/or easier for them. This means that you always need to be thinking several steps ahead to what a customer may need next for sustainability, inspiration or advice. Their needs will continue to evolve and the hope is you will be ready when they look up and realize they’re looking for something new.Bottom line: Know that things will change and invest in a team that can continually adapt. This spirit of innovation will carry you beyond short lived success to remain relevant in the market for the long-term.
  2. Pay attention.It’s important to look beyond the world of your brand and find out what’s happening in other arenas of business. Sometimes trends and fads spill from one field to another instead of falling on top of the entire world at once.You can hear about a new trend or fad happening in another line of business through basic things like conversations with your friends, reading news and scanning social media. The key is keeping your eyes peeled. Talk about what’s happening in your field and ask other people questions about what’s happening in theirs. You never know that pieces of importation may connect and give you an idea of what’s headed to your industry next.
  3. Find experts and influencers to be go-to sources.There are a number of places you can go for help in spotting a fad or trend. Trend spotting websites are a classic example. Platforms like Google also have lots of trend data available going back many years. You can find sources for real-time data that show the current moment of customer thinking, plus where any specific fad or trend may be headed.Many companies use trend spotting platforms to guide their work.Also, search out experts who have a knack for this kind of thing. Every industry has experts who have a sixth sense for where any given fad is headed, can explain whether a trend will be short lived or here for decades, and more.
  4. Keep the conversation going with your audience.One of the best ways to create a keen since of where your customers and consumers are trending is by keeping the conversation with them going. Asking questions will give you a window into what’s relevant to customers and help you project what they’ll need next.Plus, you won’t have to wonder too long — audiences are more than eager to share with a brand what they like and don’t like, along with they they are thinking, what they’re interested in, how they’re feeling, and more.
  5. Follow your instincts.While it’s true that your gut may not get it right every single time, as we like to say in Texas, “dance with the one that brought you.” Your instincts have led you and your business to interesting places thus far. Keep trusting and following them as you watch your industry change over time.Trust your gut and follow your instinct for what will best serve your brand.Reports can provide data, but you have lived the changes of your industry. If you’ve been in your industry for more than a couple of years, you have already witnessed a number of evolving trends and fads — some of which you may have picked up and others passed on. Learn from every decision and every mistake and let that information guide you as you determine the next trends and fads headed your way.

J.O. Turns Trends into Success for Businesses and Organizations

With all the work it takes to run your business or organization, it’s very possible you don’t have time to worry about trend and fad examples.

The team at J.O. Agency is here to do that important work for you.

We make it our life work to help organizations and businesses reach their audiences — including the use of trends and fads. We’ll use our marketing mojo to make it happen. Contact our team at 817-335-0100 or via our contact form to start talking about getting on top of the next fad or trend headed to your line of business.

Bonus: Get our tips for introducing your brand to the world right here.

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