Traditionally, necessity is the mother of innovation, but with so many new ideas popping up like weeds how does one determine which are truly valuable? Let’s look at some trends that some people of the time thought would only be fads and test this theory. Do fads withstand the test of time because they become a necessity in the user’s lives or perhaps because it just makes their lives so much easier they would rather not be without it? That’s my theory. Let’s put it to the test.
“The popularity of the wheel is doomed”
People of the time deemed this to be a fad for few other reasons than that it looks really silly to ride about on a bike with long, wide-skirted dresses. Bikes started as the fashion statement of the wealthy, but because they made the daily commute so much easier the fad hung around for a couple more decades. For a while, it even served to fuel the gender war as some men of the time began to complain that it was not fit for a lady to ride a bike.
“I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and catastrophically collapse.”
It is blatantly clear that this is not the case, as the inventor of the ethernet predicted in. The question is, why did the internet happen to stick around? Well, it was easy. Would you rather send a letter in the post or use email? Would you rather Google something or consult a couple of encyclopaedias? This is the exact reason it has become a necessity for most of the world. Some countries even list a quick internet connection as infrastructure their citizens have a right to have access to. This is a fad that isn’t going anywhere.
We all know what these are as they have saturated the markets everywhere. They were on t-shirts, in every second person’s hand and overrun the internet quite quickly. Then, seemingly as quickly as they had appeared, they vanished. This fad was doomed to fail for one reason. They added no substantial benefit to people’s lives. The cultural influences were there, the saturation was deafening and yet it failed to gain long-term traction.
Diamonds are forever and a diamond ring is the only way to show your ever-loving affection and the only proper way to propose. Is it though? This never used to be the case before the 1950’s. De Beers wanted a way to sell more diamonds so they hired a marketing agency who saturated New York with posters, ads, media campaigns and the idea that diamonds are the only way to fall in love. By connecting the necessity of marriage, at the time, with diamonds they made their product the trend we still see today.
What makes a fad a trend? Ask yourself two questions. Has it become essential to people’s daily existence? Does it make people’s lives easier? Well congratulations, you have a trend. It does not matter how fast it spreads or how popular it might be. Ease and necessity are all that matters. Or, with a massively successful marketing campaign, you might be able to create a genuine need and a new trend to fill the gap.