Every spring Bloomberg Business Week puts out their "popularity issue". I doubt if it's as popular as the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, but you can still observe a lot.
For instance, trout flies (usually used for fishing) are now a big fashion item. On another fashion note, Tom Whiting, the world's largest producer of rooster feathers, now "harvests" more that 1,000 birds a week.
For lasting popularity, the 20-year hero is "Law and Order". Producer Dick Wolf says,"It's the writing, stupid".
The all-time best-selling garment is Levi's 501 jeans. Today, denim is a $14.7 billion industry in the U.S. Marcus Wainwright, designer for Rag and Bone, says "Men's jeans have not changed, in effect, ever."
The Alexander McQueen exhibit, "Savage Beauty, at the Metropolitan Museum, drew more than 650,000 people. The record Tweets-per-second is 7,000 --- July 18, 2001 at the FIFA Women's World Cup Soccer final. Zombies are all the rage in classic movies, and 41,860,000 pounds of mustard were produced here last year.
Ever since high school, millions of Americans have been obsessed with popularity, and we should ask ourselves why. Certainly there's comfort in numbers. If everyone is playing "Story Cubes" at parties these days, you'll want to join in. One question is, should marketers be selling their products to people who want to fit in, or people who want to stand out? It depends --- on your product, your distribution, your prices, and everything else.
But one thing is clear. In times like these, when it's so easy and fast to copy a product's features, differentiation depends more and more on branding. Branding in the larger sense. What does your brand say to people; what can it do for people? Keep building the brand and if you do it right, popularity will build.
In England this year, the Middleton sisters have created a craze for sheer stockings. As a marketer you have to ask, how can I make sure it's my brand?