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How to Profit From a Fad
May 23, 2022
Mother and little preschooler daughters have fun making bracelets at home together

There’s nothing wrong with getting caught up in a fad. In fact, back in the 1970s, the inventor of the Pet Rock made $15 million in just six months.

The key is understanding what a fad is and how to profit from one.

A fad is short-lived, typically lasting less than a year. Fads tend to start up suddenly and are typically limited to one industry (such as clothing) or one demographic (such as tween girls).

A trend, on the other hand, starts slowly, grows slowly, and has more staying power than a fad. It also generally involves more than one industry or demographic.

Fads can turn into trends. For example, juicing started out as a fad in the 1990s but has become a mainstream trend today. However, a trend can also fizzle out and become just a fad.

Inventing a brand new fad product, like the inventor of the Pet Rock, Chia Pet or Rainbow Loom did, isn’t the only way to profit from a fad. You can also sell someone else’s fad product in your store or on your website, or quickly make or import a product tied to a fad (like the plastic vuvuzelas that became a fad during the 2010 World Cup). Whichever option you choose, following these steps will help you profit from a fad:

Analyze the fad’s potential. 

What competitors are already selling similar fad-products? When did the fad start, and how long is it likely to last? For example, fad products tied to an event, such as the presidential election or the Olympics, inherently have an end date. Estimating your fad’s limits ensures you don’t invest too much time and money in it.

Study the market. 

Who are the potential customers for the fad product? What is the best way to reach them? Gather all the market research you can to identify potential target markets. American FactFinder from the U.S. Census Bureau, Nielsen’s MyBestSegments, and Pew Research are good sources of market research.

Move fast. 

To profit from a fad, you need to enter the market rapidly before the craze blows over. You’ll need adequate capital to make or buy the fad product, a way to sell it (such as a website or kiosk), and a marketing plan to promote it.

Spread the word. 

Social media marketing, YouTube videos, and memes are great ways to spread the word about a fad. You can also use email marketing, create promotional material or offer introductory coupons (especially if your fad item is marketed to kids, and you want moms to buy it). 

Be ready to work. 

When it comes to fads, you’ve got to strike when the iron is hot. Be prepared to put in long days and nights to maximize the profits from your fad before it fades.

Think about ways you can prolong the fad or even turn it into a trend. 

For instance, if you’ve been making money from fad products related to the presidential election, are there fad-products you could develop after the election-related to the new president? If you make Beard Bauble Christmas ornaments, could you branch out into new product lines, like Christmas ornaments for girls’ hair, to give your product staying power after the beard fad dies down? By making a fad product more mainstream, adding new versions, or targeting new consumer demographics, you could see lasting success. 

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