FOXBusiness calls it "The $500,000,000 Trend Spinning the Toy Industry Upside Down."
I call it a boring and pointless waste of time.
Either way I'm betting you can't name a single brand in the category.
As a trend watcher, here are three products I believe will go mainstream by 2020. (Of course, the extent to which this happens will depend on the laws, regulations and policies surrounding implementation):
- Marijuana - for medicinal or recreational purposes
- Sex robots - as a substitute for human companionship and as a therapeutic aid for trauma victims, those with phobias, etc.
- Bitcoin - as a replacement for paper currency, gold or silver
But I can smell a trend like a hound dog. And in that capacity I point out to you three markets with immediate appeal to wide swaths of the population, which are in my opinion at the tipping point.
Here's the thing, though: Can you name a brand of any of the above?
I definitely can't.
Just like I can't name any particular brand of fidget spinner.
A long time ago when I was a brand consultant full-time, I remember that clients always wanted to rush their products and services to market.
For them, the concept of building a trusted brand was just too ambitious. Too expensive. Not worth the time and effort. They wanted revenue. Revenue, now.
Of course there is some merit to adopting this position.
If you aren't making money selling stuff, you don't have money to invest in building a trusted brand.
At the same time, if you spend all your time focusing on selling, selling, selling, you risk becoming just another junk commodity purveyor.
It's like trying to become a successful Amazon seller.
One way to go about it is to sell the hottest stuff at the lowest price, and offer great service to boot. That gets you lots of 5-star reviews, sure.
The problem is, the minute somebody else with good reviews beats your price by even a fraction, the market will head directly to your competitor.
It's logical: economics.
But what if you took the time and made the effort to build a trusted brand on Amazon?
- What if you had a good, distinct name, logo, and value proposition?
- What if you built your reputation slowly, steadily through word of mouth? Social media marketing?
- What if you participated in events sponsored by your local school, place of worship, and other worthy nonprofits?
- What if you donated 10% of your profits to charity?
If you had such a storefront, and I knew about it, I would pay an extra percentage on my purchase. Just to support you.
The bottom line is this: Any product or service has potential to be a brand.
And any product or service can be used nefariously or in a positive manner.
The challenge for you, if you are a business owner, is to:
- Follow the trends to understand where the markets are headed.
- Invest when products and services catering to those markets are almost, but not quite ripe.
- Build a brand not around the specific product, but around the concept of life-enhancing value it provides.
- Run your business ethically in a proactive way. Give back. And for God's sake, don't be a sleaze.
- Apply the brand liberally yet strategically to not just one, but a suite of products and services.
It simply requires objectivity and practice.
And if you use your branding skills to do good things for the world, the good karma you generate is another positive investment.
That alone can yield incalculable dividends.
By Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author's own. The author hereby releases this post into the public domain. Public domain photo by ivabalk via Pixabay.