Follow the Herd: Fad Toys

Pokémon, Beanie Babies, Furbies, Tamagotchi, and now fidget spinners?  What makes these products ‘go viral’ and why do kids want them so badly?  Although there has been a great deal of research in this area, Margo Bergman an economist from the University of Washington suggests that it reflects the tendency of humans to look toward others for information, and this is not limited to just children!


At DeltaMV, we call this ‘herd instinct,’ referring to the common tendency of individuals to adopt the opinions and behaviours of the majority.   In this article, Bergman states that this mentality stems from the basic problem that we all can’t be experts at everything.  We lack the time, energy, and resources to make these decisions, so our brains use shortcuts.  That being said, we look to people we trust, or in this case, who look ‘cool.’  These key influencers play a critical role in giving these fads a boost.



Her research suggests that with the right key influencers, it only takes a minimum of 15 percent of people in a group susceptible to fads to make the trend explode. As marketers, it is important for us to consider who should be the ideal messenger and what is the best channel to deliver that message.  According to Bergman, if susceptibility levels are greater than 65 percent, the fad is likely to have lasting power.  How can you ensure the longevity of your current and new products? 

Andrew DeLeeuwComment