Product crazes: What they can teach you about viral marketing

Viral marketing can make your sales soar.

By Henry Brown

Each month there’s a new product craze. In the nineties it was Tamagotchis, in the noughties, it was Scoubidou laces, and today it’s fidget spinners. Each of these trends and many others took the world by storm before losing their edge and being passed over for another new trend.

The key difference in the crazes of today, like Pokemon Go, Fidget Spinners, and Kylie Lip Kits, is that these crazes all went viral, which is what paved their way to fame. The fads of the nineties and noughties became famous via word of mouth marketing, which social media has become a modern version of.

There’s no doubting that the Internet (and social media) plays a huge role in how products go viral today. For business owners, understanding how viral marketing can act as a highly effective marketing tool is vital. Bearing that in mind, below are some examples of how product crazes going viral can teach you about viral marketing and how effective it can be.

Video marketing is a key tool

Video marketing has been around for decades, but online video marketing is relatively new. However, it is already being used by various businesses in an array of sectors. That being said, not all businesses are using video as they should be. When it comes to product crazes that go viral, the reason they spread so fast is usually because a video is shared and then shared again and again, just like a virus.

Often a video ad is made and posted on a website, and it ends up being shared from there onto social media, which is where it begins to go viral. Ask any website design agency their thoughts on incorporating video into a website, and they will tell you just how beneficial it can be as a key marketing tool. If you want to go viral, video marketing is the key.

Understand the pace of news

In 2017 the pace of news is much faster than it was 20 years ago. Back then there was a 24-hour cycle of news, which meant that in the 24-hours after a story broke the media would compete to provide the best coverage. Today, news moves much faster than that. If a story breaks at 1 pm, by 1:15 pm the chances are that the news will already have been reported and shared on social media.

It’s not just the pace that has changed; it’s also how stories are reported and shared. Today, 90% of news stories come to light because of a meme, Tweet, or smartphone video footage. Traditional news is now fueled via social media and vice versa. New outlets use social media to build hype around a story. This is something that business owners can benefit from doing – using social media to build hype around their products (or services).

A viral loop is needed

Viral growth is only possible when there is a viral loop. A viral loop is when a person is exposed to an idea, such as the idea that a fidget spinner isn’t only a children’s toy but also something that can be used to help prevent anxiety and manage other mental health conditions. Because the person likes this idea they then share it (usually via social media),which exposes other people to the same idea that these people then share it, and the loop begins.

To create a viral loop, your marketing has to be on point – it has to offer something unique, something that no one else is offering. It could be sharing memes of your product, making jokes about it on social media, demonstrating its uses – it could be anything that draws attention to your product and gets people watching or reading your content and sharing it.

An example of this is the Range Rover parked outside of Harrods with ‘cheater’ and ‘I hope she was worth it’ spray painted onto it. The image of this car went viral within hours; this meant the new Range Rover design was seen all over the world. At the time, no one knew that this was a publicity stunt, but later on, it was revealed that it was – what a successful publicity stunt it was.

The fact is that product crazes can teach business owners a lot about the benefits of viral marketing and how effective it can be. Be sure you’re up to speed on how this process works so you can consider leveraging it as part of your next new marketing campaign.


Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

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