Famous advertiser George Lois answers this question in his book “Damn Good Advice” very straightforwardly. According to Lois, a trend is always a trap, because once we follow a trend, our work will become a bad imitation of somebody else’s idea. What is true for advertising is also true for business in general. Lois believes that the only way to sell products is by marketing them in a new way, by going in a new direction.
The act of repetition is not in itself bad – it is the fact that this constant chasing after the newest trend makes long-term relationships impossible. Not only between business partners or between a business and its customers, but it also destroys the relationship that our customers have with our product. It leads to a disconnect from products, and ultimately, we will not be able to attach our customer’s loyalty to our brand. If we don’t deliberately resist, trends will dictate the parameters of our product and of our positioning in the market.
The power of the word “trend” in the popular mind also means that we use it as a synonym for change, thus justifying the production of short-term solutions in the name of the newest trend. Even if we ourselves are the initiators of the trend, we should be aware of the current market situation so we know what will be needed to help our product survive the large number of imitators that will surely follow. If we indeed start a trend, the battle is far from won, because the competition will develop a similar, if not better, product. The market will then look to us again for a reaction, expecting another trend. And so it goes on, infinitely.
How can we escape this vicious circle of always having to come up with the next trend? Maybe we should start by banning the term “trend” from our vocabulary. Healthcare is not a trend, since we all want to be healthy, don’t we? Sustainability is not a trend, it is a basic requirement that has existed from the very start. Talking about sustainability may be a trend, but including it in our R&D department is not.
The goal should always be to simplify. Instead of contributing to mass consumerism, let us follow the “anti-trend” of modest and clean living, in order to reduce overall consumption. When possible, we should steer our customers in their ongoing evolution away from creating mass-produced solutions and towards creating quality products that stand the test of time. There is a reason why the “originals” collection of a brand always sells best. Those are the products that develop a patina over time, and a customer develops an emotional bond with this product. This is simply impossible with a low value product that will have to be replaced after a short period of time.
If we participate in the trend race, we will find that the constant urge to reinvent ourselves will become the fragile foundation of our business. Let us replace trend-chasing with a movement to produce high-quality products made to last, and let our customers prove us right.