Definition of Fad

A fad, in digital marketing terms, refers to a short-lived trend or craze that gains rapid popularity but fades away just as quickly. Often fueled by social media, fads generate high levels of engagement and attention, but lack the longevity and stable demand that characterize more sustainable trends. While fads can provide a quick boost for marketing campaigns, businesses should not solely rely on them for long-term success.


The phonetics of the keyword ‘Fad’ can be represented using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) as /fæd/.

Key Takeaways

  1. Fads are temporary, trendy phenomena that gain widespread attention quickly but often fade just as fast.
  2. Fads can be found in various aspects of culture, including fashion, entertainment, technology, and even language.
  3. Participating in fads can provide a sense of social belonging, but it’s important to consider their impact on our individuality, resources, and the environment.

Importance of Fad

The digital marketing term “fad” is important because it represents a popular trend or craze that captures significant attention within a short span of time but may not have long-lasting impact or market presence.

For marketers, understanding and capitalizing on fads can present lucrative opportunities to boost brand awareness, create buzz, and increase sales.

However, it can also be a challenging and risky endeavor as fads can quickly lose their appeal, leading to wasted resources and potential negative brand associations.

Ultimately, the concept of fads is essential in digital marketing as it highlights the importance of staying up-to-date with industry trends, employing agile strategies, and striking the right balance between short-term gains and long-term brand growth.


Fad, in the context of digital marketing, refers to a temporary surge in popularity or interest surrounding a particular product, service, or trend, often fueled by social media and influencer endorsements. Appearing suddenly and garnering widespread attention, fads generate a sense of urgency among consumers to participate or purchase, driven by the fear of missing out (FOMO). While fads may not be long-lasting, they can be extremely lucrative, providing businesses with a short-term spike in revenue and heightened brand visibility.

Marketers and businesses recognize the power of fads in driving consumer engagement and, consequently, use them to bolster their digital marketing strategies. By capitalizing on the fleeting nature of fads, marketers create buzzworthy campaigns that often go viral, generating a significant return on investment (ROI) during the fad’s lifespan.

Brands may collaborate with influencers, develop unique social media initiatives, or release limited edition products to tap into the fad phenomenon. However, it is crucial for marketers to acknowledge the temporary nature of fads and focus not solely on riding the wave for short-term gains, but also on developing long-term, sustainable strategies alongside them.

Examples of Fad

Pokémon Go (2016): Pokémon Go’s release in 2016 marked a huge surge in popularity for the augmented reality (AR) mobile game. Millions of people around the world were captivated by the phenomenon, which had users physically venturing outside to capture virtual creatures on their smartphones. Digital marketers took advantage of Pokémon Go’s popularity by promoting their products or services through sponsored in-game locations, offering discounts for players, or incorporating the game into their advertising campaigns. The fad ultimately lost its steam, and while Pokémon Go still has a strong player base, it doesn’t command the same level of attention and marketing opportunity as before.

The Ice Bucket Challenge (2014): The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was a viral sensation that encouraged people to take videos of themselves dumping a bucket of icy water over their heads and nominating others to do the same, all in an effort to raise awareness and funds for the ALS Association. Digital marketers and companies joined the trend, using it as an opportunity to humanize their brands, demonstrate social responsibility, and connect with audiences. Though the Ice Bucket Challenge contributed to a significant increase in donations to the ALS Association, the phenomenon fizzled out after a few months.

Fidget Spinners (2017): Fidget spinners became a massive global trend in early to mid-2017, with people of all ages obsessed with these small, handheld toys that spin rapidly when flicked. Digital marketers leveraged the fad by including fidget spinners in advertising campaigns, brand collaborations, and creating custom-branded spinners to capitalize on the excitement surrounding the trend. The fad died down quickly after the peak of its popularity, and the marketing opportunities associated with fidget spinners have since faded.

Fad FAQs

What is a fad?

A fad is a popular trend or practice that gains widespread attention and enthusiasm for a limited time, only to be replaced by another, similar trend. Fads are often characterized by being novel, rapidly-adopted, and short-lived.

What are some examples of fads?

Examples of fads include fashion trends, diets, language slang, internet challenges, and cultural phenomena. Some well-known examples include bell-bottom pants, the Atkins diet, the Ice Bucket Challenge, and fidget spinners.

How do fads differ from trends?

Fads are typically short-term and occur over a brief time period, while trends tend to be long-term and evolve more steadily. Fads gain popularity quickly but fade just as fast, often leaving no lasting impact. Conversely, trends develop gradually, indicating a more stable change in the market, behavior, or society.

How do fads spread and gain popularity?

Fads often spread through word-of-mouth, celebrity endorsements, and various media platforms like television, print and digital media, and social networks. As more people learn about and adopt the fad, it generates a snowball effect, reaching its peak popularity before its eventual decline or disappearance.

Why do some fads fade away while others endure?

Some fads fade away because they fail to provide long-term benefits, lose their appeal as other fads rise to prominence, or face saturation due to overexposure. Fads that endure, on the other hand, are typically those that offer lasting value, appeal to timeless preferences, or address a persistent need or problem in society.

Related Digital Marketing Terms

  • Trending Hashtags
  • Viral Content
  • Influencer Endorsements
  • Flash Sales
  • Short-lived Campaigns

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