From fashion to technology, fads and trends come and go. But what’s the difference between trend and fad, and how to identify and make them work for your business is the question that often leaves many executives and marketers frustrated and confused.

There is a fragile line that separates a trend from a fad, and therefore it’s become critical for brands to understand these two terms thoroughly. After all, every business wants to reap long term benefits from the marketing strategies they are undertaking for business growth.

But before heading into the conversation about the key differences between the two, let’s understand what exactly these two terms are –

What is a trend?

To understand the meaning of the trend precisely, we can think of something that gains momentum slowly over time. Many trends may not come to notice at first, except by thoughtful leaders of the industry. Yet, only after substantial time, its importance meets the eye. Trends are driven by consumer needs that help people solve a problem.

To exemplify, the increasing use of mobile phones to look for information is a trend. And it will keep growing, thus eventually penetrating markets. 

What is a fad?

Unlike trends, fads are short-lived and tend to vanish away with a shift in consumer desire. Fads offer a unique value proposition to businesses but is costly if exercised without caution. Putting a lot of money into a fad too quickly or following a prevailing activity late can prove a risky business affair. Fads can be great for a marketing moment. But completely adjusting them for a marketing strategy can be a bad idea.

Key factors that separate trends from fads – 

  • Context 

Always start by asking yourself whether your brand’s message related to underlying drivers of change? Any brand which takes into cognizance the current scenario with timely and thoughtful strategies ought to succeed. Trends flourish because of the real long-term motivation behind them. It involves vision, creative thinking, and a keen eye on the product or service and how the market is reacting to it. Deep-rooted social, political, or environmental factors are the forces behind trend generation. However, if we talk about fads are caused by novelty choices. Fads are intended to capture a larger population by storm. Great fads act best for marketing at the moment, certainly offers value to the organization. Moreover, they serve as a gateway for new audiences. But completely adjusting a marketing strategy to focus on a fad isn’t a smart tactic as they don’t stick around.

For instance, if we speak about Voice Search technology, it is reported that by the year 2021, more than half of all the searches across the internet will be voice-based. As this technology is continuously evolving, voice assistants will become even better at hearing, understanding, and predicting consumer requests. Thus, this technology is witnessing a considerable rise in its demand and popularity because of voice assistants’ evolution to comprehend consumer requests, thus offering features such as ease of use, time-saving, etc. However, speaking about fads, Instagram launched functions such as “Boomerang” and “Superzoom” exploded on Instagram stories at the start. Although they still exist but aren’t used nearly as much.

  • Audience

Another essential factor is the “audience” your brand is catering to. Whether your brand’s message is in sync with the audience’s identity and respects their unique needs will decide about the success of the marketing activity. 

According to research, EY predicts that by 2028, 80% of all discretionary spend will lie in women’s hands. Henceforth, the media industry must focus on gender inclusivity in advertising to gain traction. Additionally, it is analyzed in the research that 68% worldwide are more likely to buy from a brand that reflects them. So, for the advertising industry to be thriving, they must find and research ways to appeal to an empowered consumer.

To exemplify, “Ariel’s heralded “Share the Load campaign” encourages men to do their fair share of housework. Thus, promoting gender equality to emanate and reflect 21st cultural reality. On the contrary, the Pepsi ad faced intense criticism from people for trivializing the serious protests to sell its product. 

  • Longevity

How many years do you think your message will float in the market also help to determine marketing campaign’s success rate? A perfect example of this is the rising popularity of digital icons “emojis” over time. Emojis are more than a messaging fad. Emojis made its way into the digital world in the ’90s and were highly popular since then. Moreover, they have become the fastest-growing digital language for everyone. It puts a lot of pressure on emoji designs and standards to evolve across cultures, across screens, across time continually. Emojis will continue to grow in the future, thus, providing a robust way for the marketer to generate particular emotions in an audience.

Final Thoughts 

Although it is difficult to identify the trends and fads before they happen. But understanding the difference between them is essential for survival. Whereby fads increase top-of-mind awareness and demonstrate your organization’s timeliness. While leveraging the trends will help you expand your business and get a leg up on your competition.

What tell-tale signals do you consider to tell the difference between a fad and a trend? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section or tag us on Instagram or Twitter!