View Full Version : SEM Trend Setters vs. Trend Spreaders

12-08-2005, 04:28 AM
Some tips from Procter and Gamble (http://www.webpronews.com/insiderreports/marketinginsider/wpn-50-20040525ADTECHWordOfMouthMarketingTipsFromProcterA ndGamble.html) showed us that "they discovered that there were two types of people associated with how trends develop." These are the trend setters and then there are the trend spreaders.
First there are trend setters. These are the people whose equity is based on being different. These are the people who, once someone else start wearing their new favorite kind of sunglasses, decides that sunglasses just aren't cool anymore.

Trend setters do drive sales, but the true drivers of sales are the trend spreaders. These are the types of people who notice what the trends are and then get their friends to go out with them and buy the latest pair of jeans. These are the people that Procter and Gamble discovered have the most value to their brands.

If you connect with just 1% of trend spreaders within a market you can significantly influence your sales.
I believe this also applies much to our industry. It doesn't mean that one is better than the other or anything in that nature, but more like one is dependent of the other.

What do you think? Agree or disagree? How would you define who is a trend setter and a trend spreader in our industry and why?

12-08-2005, 05:03 PM
mavens - those who love to learn their topic and are willing to help others for the enjoyment of helping more than for profit

salesmen - good at hawking wares

connectors - connect people with similar tastes, ideas, or interests

see the Tipping Point
(although legalized abortion may also play a role in the lower crime rate in NYC mentioned in that article)

I don't think people have to be just one thing or another. typically most people are not good at all 3 things, but it is not uncommon for a single person to fall into 2 categories of the salesmen, mavens & connectors categories

I am no good at business, but I know many people and a decent amount about SEO. It's hard to classify others though because then you miss someone or get them thinking you said something for some ulterior motive, etc.

12-14-2005, 03:23 AM
I fear that I'm about to change the subject entirely, Nacho. :)

Trends, as they're often called, are arguably manifestations of real demand. It's an incredibly interesting phenomenon... to muse about where real demand comes from. We can push things on people, or we can wait for them to tell us what they want. There must be a million configurations of how "trends" unfold.

Sometimes specific examples are the best.

I'm working on a new campaign for a less invasive type of prostate cancer treatment. Demand for such treatments is very fundamental -- people have the disease and they begin to search for information. Their interest, and their willingness to tell others about the alternative treatment, is fueled by a real need that evokes all kinds of sharing and asking of product questions.

This is nothing like buying a car, but it costs about the same amount.

These are the kinds of cases where trends spread based on something really fundamental -- and something that people desperately wish for but have had trouble finding. So it's not the same as something just being merely superficial, merely "trendy."

In automotive matters, say, I suppose you have a lot of trends being engineered by car companies desperate for high-end sales. Trends are created by heavy advertising and the hope is to sell enough early on to get people talking and seeing the cars other people have. But even here, some of the most eye-opening trends have been fueled by either real needs, or at least (far from being needs) bedrock shifts in culture. Buyers "need" an SUV to "protect" my kids. I don't understand it, but I know it's mightier stuff than the merely "trendy." Remember when Chrysler invented the minivan? Does that make them trend-makers? Who were the people who were the first minivan buyers? What made them different? Did they influence other people, or did the other people just come to the same conclusion independently, but slower? Possibly the most understudied product launch of all time...

I think maybe that's what many marketers and trend-watchers miss about changing so-called trends. The "trend-setters" are visionaries in that they understand either the need for something or the deep cultural shift it represents. Those who adopt and spread those trends are merely saying their "amen" to all that.

So I am trying to argue that neither the trend-makers or the trend-spreaders are "trendy" but rather that both rest on (even now, with so much abundance in society) urgent needs or deep cultural shifts that feel like needs to those affected. They are "real". Under that scenario, everyone else just doesn't get it yet.

I'll let someone else take a stab at our own industry.

Turning to home improvement, my wife and I are considering buying a Fisher & Paykel Double-Drawer Dishwasher. Is that trendy? Yesterday's trend? Based on a real need? What is this, exactly? Comments welcome.

12-14-2005, 03:45 AM
Looking more closely at the article, the idea of "spreading the news" seems like it might be overdone.

Once upon a time, there were cool people who would adopt stuff first. Cool being a positional good (not all can be cool), they'd show off their stuff and other people would jump in.

Coolness aside, it's pretty amusing from where we sit to imagine that anyone needs anyone else to "teach" them about Crest Whitestrips. The ads are all over the place.

Obviously, we as search type people are still in some sort of quirky minority that believes that a lot of people seeking to improve their teeth might do their own research.

It's tempting maybe for P&G to look at Whitestrips as this wonderful word of mouth opportunity where cool people tell regular people how white their teeth could be.

Another type of analysis entirely probably explains it just as well. Competitive consumption and the democratization of everything.

It's not good enough just to have fresh breath or healthy gums anymore. Once the coolest (Hollywood, then wealthy folk, then middle class folk...) people seem to have whiter teeth, regular healthy teeth seem downscale. You must upgrade, so, you do. And since the technology comes available to all... the demand pushes prices down of course... many people have whiter teeth.

This, of course, is a slap in the face to the truly privileged. So the cycle of competitive consumption continues and other forms of distinction must be found, which fuels a new binge of consumption by wannabes and eventually full accessibility to the old exclusive good ... democratization & lower prices.

These phenomena increasingly won't require cool people to tell other people how to get what they want or need, because a much richer landscape of micro-communities will know what is a "need for them" or what is "cool for them" and they will do their own research.

I guess we, as search advocates, are the trend makers. :)

But one supposes it will still mean that cool people will SHOW other people what's cool, by what they buy, say, and do.

And it also means that a great power lies with the creatives -- the Apples of the world -- who imagine and engineer products that no one knows they need, and then provide as much information about those products as possible so that the first wave of adopters will see the potential.

So much of the discussion of trends in society is such a far cry from Crest Whitestrips (http://www.stephenlewisfoundation.org/).

Sally from the office didn't use Crest Whitestrips because Barbara told her about it. She used it because Barbara told her, and Crest spent untold monies on TV ads, shelf space placement, and on and on. That kind of "trend" needs to be evaluated against the cost of creating it.

The most interesting ones are those that spread with few marketing dollars. P&G can't really speak to that.

I'm probably not really well-placed to discuss it, either. Eight-year-old kids want a laptop that costs twice as much as mine for Christmas. Fueled by ad dollars and competitive consumption, some kinds of trends travel faster than ever.

Malcolm Gladwell had an interesting book on a not unrelated subject as Aaron points out. :)