Do you know what gluten really is?

Understanding the Bandwagon Effect

What is gluten? If I ask you to draw gluten, would you be able to do it?

I am sure most of us (yes, including me) don’t know what gluten is, but we give in to the fad of the gluten-free diet. But is gluten always bad for us? Are gluten-free products always healthy? Should we avoid gluten entirely even if we are not allergic to it? I guess we should have answers to all these questions before we start targeting poor gluten.

Similar to the gluten-free diet trend, multiple trends have gained popularity just for the sake of it. For example, do you remember the ice bucket challenge? The association of the challenge with the ALS disease was not the reason for its popularity. On the contrary, people hardly knew about the reason for the challenge. It gained popularity because of the participation of various celebrities, social media influencers, and several industry giants.

No, I don’t have anything against trends; I don’t live under a rock. I am only attempting to understand why these trends end up becoming so popular. One of the culprits is something called the Bandwagon effect. The effect refers to our habit of adopting certain behaviors or beliefs because many others do the same. The most prominent examples of this effect are fashion trends, social media challenges, diet trends; furthermore, this effect is a massive part of the music and the publishing industry. Think about it: how often do you listen to music topping the charts or pick up the best-selling books? What are we doing, if not following others?

Irrespective of the industry, we can very easily incorporate this tool into our marketing strategy. The bandwagon effect can help us increase our conversion rates and should be taken into account both while developing a brand and while developing various campaigning strategies. However, before we jump on how you can use this effect to your benefit, let’s take a closer look at the bandwagon effect.

The Bandwagon effect is a helpful tool because it directly impacts our decision-making ability. However, we should be worried that it can and does easily override our critical thinking that is often a part of a good decision-making process. Think about it like this, for example; you take bus no. 5 from office to home every day. You decided to take bus no. 5 after considering bus routes, bus frequency, no. of stops, bus fare, etc. Now, if one day you find out that almost everyone from your office takes the bus no.7, would you switch your bus only because bus no.7 is more popular amongst your colleagues? No? Yes?

But this is precisely what most of us do when forming a political opinion or following any trend in any aspect of our life. The same effect on a systemic level can easily turn into a mob mentality. Mob mentality is nothing but a group of people following something or someone blindly. If left unchecked, it can quickly take an ugly turn.

Therefore we should be careful while using this effect. It’s like a racehorse; if trained well, it will listen to you and help you win the race, but if you fail to prepare it properly, it will have a mind of its own, and you will probably fall off the horse.

Here are some tips to prepare your racehorse well -

(a) Influence and win - Gone are the days of traditional advertising. Instead, focus on showing your consumers how other people are enjoying your product. If you don’t have the budget, you don’t have to involve a celebrity. Just get your product used by various influencers on social media with a significant amount of followers.

(b) You jump, I jump - For your customers to jump on the bandwagon, you need to do it too. So, for example, if you are a haircare brand and you see that paraben-free products are the new trend, maybe you can do it too. If you don’t want to mess with the already existing product line, you can introduce a new line of paraben-free products. This will also give you a chance to compare what works better.

(c) Use holidays and other calendar events - Why do we end up participating in the black Friday sale irrespective of our needs? Why do we desperately have to buy Christmas gifts for every possible person we know? Yes, my friend, the answer is the bandwagon effect! So why not take advantage of this phenomenon? For example, if you are a chocolate brand, you should go all out during valentine’s season.

Apart from the tips mentioned above, an effortless way to use the bandwagon effect is always to showcase feedback from your happy customers. Already existing customer base can create a whole new bandwagon for your brand. No matter how unique your consumers think they are, they will always fall for this simple but effective trick.

What have we learned so far -

  1. The Bandwagon effect refers to our habit of adopting certain behaviors or beliefs because many others do the same.

  2. The Bandwagon effect is a helpful tool because it directly impacts our decision-making ability.

  3. It can also easily override our critical thinking that is often a part of a good decision-making process.

  4. The bandwagon effect can help us increase our conversion rates and should be taken into account both while developing a brand and while developing various campaigning strategies.

One last thing -

A unique way to use the bandwagon effect is through online quizzes. This concept started for fun but has now turned into a valuable tool used by many brands. A quiz is a great CTA that will ensure maximum engagement while providing every possible information the brand might need about its consumers.