Lately it’s the damn fidget spinners. You see them everywhere. I don’t own one, and correct me if I’m wrong here but I believe the intent was to help children/adults who suffer from ADD and ADHD – or those who tend to fidget, focus on something thereby alleviating their antsy-ness. Seems logical.
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Instead it is a retail hit and a teacher’s nightmare. How does it happen? How does an innocuous thing such as a fidget spinner become the craze of the day. I say the day – because you know this thing will be passé as soon as a newbie craze hits the stores.
Here’s my point of view – this is all about word of mouth. Some “cool” kid in school had one, then another kid had to have one and the craze began. There really wasn’t heavy marketing behind it. In fact, the first time I saw them or heard of them was when I was in Newport RI and saw them in one of the Tourist Trap stores. The owner told us he couldn’t keep them in stock and that kids loved them and parents hated them!
My first recollection of this phenomena was in the 70’s with the Pet Rock. For you youngsters, this was a rock in a box. Yes, literally a piece of rock that was marketed as a pet. It was so stupid you had to have it. Here’s the really cool part of this 1975 hit that cost $3.95 – it was invented by a marketing guru by the name of Gary Dahl. Yea, he wasn’t stupid. The story goes he was listening to friends complain about how much work their pets were – so he said the best pet would be a rock. Ergo the Pet Rock was invented. It came in a nice box, with air holes and a bed of straw. The best part was the Care Manual – which was so hokey it was brilliant. If memory serves there were things like “How to get your pet to roll over”, tasks you would do with a dog. Genius. The phenomena only lasted about 6 months, when sales died down after the holidays. But that rock made Dahl a millionaire. Same story as the spinners. A few folks got them, and the rest is well rock history. Yes, I had one – of course! I was a cool tweener.
Wish I still did – wonder if they are collectible?
The moral of story – Don’t discount the power of Brand Evangelists. Your consumer’s words are powerful and can be the difference between success and failure.
Can I just say Oprah’s Book Club? Many an author was “made” from getting Oprah to say it’s on the “list”.
Got a cool idea? Make it, do it – get it in front of some people who will share the story!