We tend to think of innovators as savvy intellectuals committed to being at the forefront of technology. While this is usually true, one must account for viral products that aren’t particularly innovative, but are instead popularised by vloggers and social media influencers. This phenomenon has been termed digital disruption, and creates a division between adopters – those who ‘get it,’ and critics of the product who don’t. This discord between audiences becomes the advertising in and of itself, increasing media coverage and in turn, sales. Below, we take a look at three viral products so far in 2017.
Fidget spinners have been widely marketed as stress-relievers and to help kids with ADHD improve their attention span. While there is no definitive evidence to support these potential benefits, the toys continue to be in high demand across Australia and the US. Children collect the range of style options, industry professionals buy premium models for the workplace, and media outlets warn that the gadgets are negatively affecting children in the classroom, getting banned from schools, and even putting young children’s lives at risk. The whole thing has left us all feeling a little dizzy. Fidget spinners have been predicted to become the most viral retail product in 2017, with Toys’R’Us shipping tens of thousands of fidget spinners by air from Asia to its stores to meet demand.
Bath and cosmetics company LUSH released a bee-shaped shower exfoliator called “Scrubee” this year, as a part of their Mother’s Day collection. The product went viral, with over three thousand photos of the product on Instagram. Its rapid traction and limited availability resulted in high demand as customers purchased the product in bulk, and fans requested it be added to the store’s permanent collection, some even taking to Twitter and prompting a #SaveScrubee campaign. As a result, the Scrubee is slated to return to LUSH stores at the end of July, becoming a permanent fixture of LUSH’s collection.
Brandi Halls, LUSH’s Director of Brand Communications said in a press release, “We were so blown away by their demand to #SaveScrubee that we had to do right by them. Scrubee has officially been saved and is part of our year-round lineup.”
The phenomenon is perhaps most observable in the beauty industry, with bloggers creating hype around increasingly outlandish makeup products including rainbow highlighters, LED teeth whitening lights, and charcoal masks. The latest bizarre beauty trend circulating online are face pom-poms, small multicoloured pom-poms, glued around the eyelids, eyebrows, and lips. Instagram makeup artist Marly is believed to have sparked the viral beauty fad after posting a photo of her entire face covered in pom-poms. Not only is the trend helping new products get noticed, but ordinary objects are being reappropriated.
With new products gaining overnight success, limited-time items becoming permanent stock, and new uses to ordinary objects are being shared. Viral products are testing global supply chains and influencing the way we market our products online.
Hootsuite recently released a case study exploring Australian Instagram trends within the hospitality industry. The research highlights how social media influencers can be harnessed to extend reach by up to ten times, and increase purchase decisions.
The case study suggests that brands seeking a more targeted reach should turn to ‘micro-influencers’: users with 1,000-10,000 followers. Micro-influencers tended to have a more localised following with the power to drive 87 per cent of post volume for hospitality brands. That being said, major influencers were found to boost the volume of users talking about a brand by 61 per cent.
Viral products are a direct result of the proper social influencers and digital marketing strategies being utilised in the adoption stage of new products. Digital research can reveal the best social and digital markets to help your product or service thrive.
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