Social Proof

What Does a Pair of Crocs (or Ugg Boots) Have in Common with Donald Trump?


Kate Cleevely


March 29, 2018

We explore how some unusual trends are formed and show you how you can use Taggstar's trend algorithm to help drive your online sales.

According to a new article in the FT last week, they’re both successful examples of how an ugly - or unpopular option - was turned into a trend. Crocs in fashion. Trump in politics.

The theory is the brainchild of Christopher Wylie, a PhD student at the London School of Economics (LSE). His thinking is that our initial reaction can be influenced. If the ugliest pair of shoes can become a high-fashion item, then the most unlikely political candidate can become a success too.

His thinking makes perfect sense. History is scattered with stories of people, items and habits, that initially seem provocative, ugly or distasteful on first appearance.  With the benefit of a concentrated campaign or mainstream exposure, the person, place or thing can slip into popular consciousness, can certainly become acceptable and perhaps even highly sought after, within a few weeks.

New, fresh and controversial ideas are what fashion is made of. And, Wylie believed that the politics could follow suit. And, without throwing shade on the gullibility of the buying and voting public, in the main, the populist political movement has proved him right.

Let’s consider how this was done. How did millions of people start wearing Crocs - and start supporting Trump (however unlikely to be the same people)? The secret to their success is visibility.

By ‘surfacing’ a person, place or thing again and again, through different formats and contexts, the item becomes familiar, even likeable, certainly palatable. Fashion editors talk about the power of three, but Trump’s team went way further. He was presented, and re-presented again and again. His ubiquity, like that of Crocs, turned him into a trend.

The editors - both political and fashion - agree that a trend has a time-limit and that it will eventually burn out. The trick is to judge when to deliver maximum exposure at the right time.

In fashion, you’re not going to mount a campaign for thick jumpers in the middle of the summer. The temperature, consumer appetite, wants and needs must all align, and when enough people want or buy an item, a trend appears. 

At Taggstar, we aggregate these online behaviours using our Taggstar Trend Algorithm. This shows in a message balloon on an eCommerce product page the number of people adding to basket, or buying, or fast selling for example - to tell other shoppers that something is trending. By putting these trends in front of potential shoppers, we’re helping them to buy smarter and more decisively. That’s the power of a trend. If you follow it too, safety in numbers helps to convince you that you’ve made the right choice.

We’ve never tagged a political campaign, but hey, as Wylie argues, a trend is a trend whatever the product. 

To see how Taggstar can highlight trending items on your eCommerce site, get in touch today.

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