How Businesses Can Cash in on Long-Lasting Fads

By Julie Rains on 24 December 2010 0 comments

You don’t have to radically alter your business model and spend loads of money to capitalize on fads. There are low-risk, yet profitable ways of cashing in on long-lasting fads (admittedly, an oxymoron) by integrating new products, services, and concepts into your business while staying true to your brand and holding operations steady.

Recognizing Long-Lasting Fads

Distinguishing the short-lived from the long-lasting fad can be tricky. For example, more than 20 years ago, the opening of a frozen yogurt shop in my town sparked excitement. This treat, customizable with novel toppings like crushed Oreos and M&Ms, quickly became wildly popular. My friends and I wondered how long the fad would last. Fast forward to the 21st century, and my dad mentions that a frozen yogurt store is opening at the mall in his town, wondering how long this fad will last. 

Like me, my dad grew up with ice cream stores. He frequented the locally owned Spoon’s in his neighborhood while I patronized Baskin-Robbins at the mall. To both of us, frozen yogurt seems faddish, as do more recent entries to the dessert industry such as the premium ice cream shop and the cupcake kiosk. Meanwhile, as I have been noticing the trend toward greater availability and prominence of locally grown and locally produced foods, and my Dad continues to shop weekly at the farmers market as he has for decades, likely unaware of this "new" trend.

Fads and trends that are based on solid underlying values, such as improving wellness and contributing to environmental sustainability, are more likely to become embedded in mainstream culture. Incorporating these fads into your business can help it to stay relevant and boost the bottom line.

Cashing in on Fads Relevant to Certain Businesses

As a guide, start by naming some long-lasting fads, such as:  

  • Yoga for all ages and various purposes, including kids, athletes, and senior adults
  • Triathlons as an entry point to fitness, not just for seasoned athletes
  • Social media for branding and business purposes
  • Emphasis on locally-grown foods for health and environmental reasons
  • Cooking as entertainment

Then identify products and services in those areas that are relevant to your business. For example, specialty clothing stores may expand product lines to include activity-specific apparel, childcare centers and senior organizations may add yoga to their programs, fitness centers may offer training for triathlons, career-services firms may add workshops on social media for job seekers in addition to interview training and career coaching, grocery stores may increase their use of locally-grown foods, and restaurants and caterers may add cooking classes to engage and educate customers.

Capitalizing on Fads Relevant to Nearly Any Business

Just as significantly, notice fads and trends that are not tied to specific products and services. In the past several years, I’ve noticed a growing emphasis on these values:

  • Personal expression that extends the concept of customization
  • Group experiences that reinforce relationships at home and work
  • Instant delivery of professional and personal services
  • Interim ownership involving resale, rental, sharing, and consignment
  • Drive for high individual productivity

Nearly any business can more readily integrate new concepts into its product lines and service offerings. For example, a sports specialty shop could accommodate personal expression by selling fitness gear in custom colors and graphics, offering family training programs that prepare parents and children for area races, delivering sports-related nutritional plans in e-book format for immediate delivery, and providing fitness services for corporations with the goal of increasing employee productivity.

Similarly, an accounting firm may capitalize on these trends with a different set of solutions, such as downloadable guides on topics such as tax planning; consulting services to increase office automation and streamline financial reporting processes; workshops on improving accounting controls and information security in automated environments; group sessions with providers of financial services, such as employee benefits and online A/R management; and implementation of cloud-computing solutions rather than purchased software.

In most cases, your business can add and delete product lines fairly easily. Certain long-lasting fads and enduring trends, though, may alter the business landscape forever and require more dramatic changes. Remembering what seems like the long-ago past, I think of the travel agencies that closed when airline commission structures changed and travel websites like Expedia.com emerged. A trend-watching owner may have noticed that travel has become widely recognized as a path to self-improvement and reinvent or start an agency specializing in educational, volunteer, or adventure travel.

Whatever your approach, following fads can not only excite (and retain) customers who may otherwise wander to trendier competitors but also attract new customers, help you to enter new market segments, ensure survival, and drive long-term growth.

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