For a blog about trends to keep an eye on, you might be expecting me to write about the TikTok dance challenges or the Dalgona Coffee mania, but by the time I finish writing this and you get to reading it, they’ll probably be replaced a ‘newer’ trend that’s catching the internet by storm. So, I decided to take a deeper look into what lies in the trends we observe all around us.
Having spent way more time on social media this year than we had planned, we are all too familiar with the hottest trends as they come and go on our social media platform of choice. But if you look closely enough, there’s a pattern to them – a few underlying themes. And if companies can keep a finger on the pulse of these themes, they can better respond to the trends and use them to connect with their consumers.
The first theme that emerges from the downpour of trends this season is the ability to engage with your friends and family. Not talk or communicate; just engage. A way to express that I thought about you today and hope that our connection is not lost in this crazy isolation. In between the countless Bingos put out by brands, colleges, restaurants and influencers and the ‘This or That’ Instagram stories where the user fills a template and tags their friends to do the same, each story is an attempt to reach out to our friends in a fun way. As brands and marketers, we need to acknowledge this need for connection and provide ways for our consumers to find it through us, without seeming opportunistic or ‘selling’. What we give – an easy, trendy digital activity for our consumers. What we get – impressions, engagements and brand recall.
Another overarching pattern in the top trends has been tribalism – our basic human instinct to be a part of group, something bigger than us. While it is not a new phenomenon and has been at the root of brand based communities and sports teams’ fandoms forever, in the times of COVID-19, expression of this tribalism is needed not only to show support but also to convince ourselves that there are others out there who are ‘like us’ and this quarantine is just physical. While it sounds like a far-fetched premise, most trends hit this exact note. People baking banana bread to be a part of the bakers’ tribe. People taking TikTok dance challenges to be a part of the TikTok tribe. People taking online Yoga classes to be a part of the fitness tribe. And while these activities have ulterior motives of enjoyment, fitness and entertainment, the reason they hit the trend charts is because we like to share our accolades. And while brands have always been community building pillars in society, now it is more important than ever to make ourselves available as a platform for our consumers. What we give – a common thread for people to connect. What we get – brand loyalty, higher brand reach and an insight into our consumers’ mindset.
And finally, all things pretty. While that sounds vain and superficial, what catches the eye is something that shines. If Dalgona coffee didn’t look so ‘Instagrammable’, it wouldn’t break all the records. If the #DistanceDance wasn’t so catchy, it wouldn’t hit over 9 billion views. And in a world, that’s all too unpleasant as is, a little vanity is just delight for our sore senses. As marketers, if you want to keep your brand relevant to those trends, you not only have to make sure is easy to replicate and pertinent to your brand but also a little appealing to the senses.
There is a famous Bollywood dialogue along the lines of, ‘Don’t chase good grades, chase knowledge; and good grades will follow.’ I feel it is somewhat analogous to the ever-changing world of latest-newest-hottest trends and companies running endlessly to pursue the goal of profits. Don’t chase sales, chase consumer empathy; and profits will follow.