Article

Marie-Louise Dalton
Marie-Louise Dalton 17 March 2017

Distinguishing the Fads From the Trends: A Marketer’s Look at Clean Living

Marketers that get distracted by the new, shiny, behaviours and drive serious business decisions based on knee-jerk glimpses of trends are setting themselves up for failure. The art of marketing in today’s world is built from weeding out the fads from the trends and future-proofing the brand against a stable long term view.

From technology to utilities, to fashion and food, we are surrounded by a constant churn of what we understand to be ‘new’. This isn’t only putting pressure on companies to be constantly innovating and data collecting to make the next great product, but they are having to adapt and evolve across the business in real-time to keep up.

Choosing the right moments to keep focused and not get influenced by the extremely short term behaviours witnessed is a tricky task. Especially in the world of marketing.

We have looked at the trend of Clean Living to highlight examples of marketing to longer term trends, being mindful of the quick fixes in favour of the more sustainable approach.

The Clean Living lifestyle has taken the UK by storm. With organic food sales increasing, and the UK spending an extra £1.5m a week on organic produce, it’s no surprise that marketers have taken an interest.

Our task today is being able to weed out the long-term trends that are valuable and will deliver more business success both now and in the future. Take Paleo and Atkins diets for example, which hit the mainstream in 2014. In Hitwise’s recent ‘Data Day Britain: Clean Living’ report - based on data from over 3 million Brits - we discovered that consumers are opting for longer, sustainable, lifestyle choices over what was previously positioned as quick fix diets. As a result, many brands that developed new recipes and adapted their product lines to slot into the Paleo or Atkins obsessions are rapidly losing interest amongst consumers – and the brands that made moves to capitalise on these fashions are now fading in the public eye.

Further evidence of food fad fatigue is that vegan lifestyle searches have increased three-fold (+221%), gluten free searches have increased by 69 per cent and dairy free has also gained in popularity (91%). These are all longer-term lifestyle choices.

Interestingly some brands have already recognised this longer-term opportunity. Tesco, in 2003, developed its ‘free from’ range of gluten and diary free products. Now, nearly 14 years on, its product range is leading the way compared to all other supermarkets, selling over 200 million ‘free from’ products annually. In spotting a long-term trend and investing in this for the future, Tesco is now firmly positioned to capture today’s expanding market.

On this same theme, wearable technology is changing the way people manage not only their workout but their daily routines too. Fitbit has tapped into this trend – with the right product at the right time - making it the UK’s most popular Christmas present for the last two years in a row. But this has been a long-term game for Fitbit, a company that has been around for almost ten years.

So, what does this tell us? Consumers are making longer term choices, and we must too. To realise full market potential brands better be ready to bunker in for a longer-term commitment. There is an art to starting new things but there is a victory in sustaining and finishing the race.

A marketer’s success lies in their ability to distinguish between the real trends that can shape a brand’s vision, values, product offer - and consequently marketing plan, vs the superficial fads that are deemed to be having an impact on their brand. The food industry examples are true for several sectors and representative the power that only long-term data insights mapping to understand behavioural changes and motivation of consumers can tell us.  

Whilst instinct and gut reactions will always be a part of the marketing mix, having the tools to track behaviours, attitudes and the intent of consumers has never been more powerful.  The benefit of isolating long term trends versus a fad phase can be the difference between making a profit or a loss.  Failure to analyse the longevity and endurance of what appears to be a ‘trend’ can drive brands off track and quickly down a marketing rabbit hole!  Data driven product, customer and marketing strategies that are based on wider modelled audience behaviour over a longer period of time, is at the heart of deciphering what stage a behaviour is in its ‘fad’ to ‘trend’ cycle. 

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