Turning from a fad into a favourite

What causes a fad to become an indispensable part of our everyday experience, asks Grey Dubai's Elias Karam

What turns a new platform or tool from a trendy gimmick into an essential enabler?

How do we weed out those that stay in the realm of playful activations by marketers from those that will become indispensable tools that augment our everyday experience?

While some might argue that the more functional and practical a tool is, the more likely it will stick than those that are made to entertain. Yet the lines are blurry.

Entertainment platforms such as TikTok are now competing with search engines such as Google Search, with over 51 per cent of Gen Z’ers choosing TikTok over Google as their search engine.

Or consider gaming platforms in Saudi Arabia, which clock in, as of a recent study by Deloitte in 2023, 12.3 hours a week – with platforms like Roblox now enabling users to create personalised gaming worlds for themselves.

It will take more than its intended function to determine its longevity.

These are the three critical roles that technology must play to move from a fad to a favourite:

1 Please Do Have a Finger in Every Pie:

The more a technology or platform does beyond just entertain, the more it intertwines itself into our lifestyle and identity.

Xbox recently did an insightful case study called ‘A Player Like Me’ where Xbox partnered with Gamers Outreach to showcase how gaming can help people with certain disabilities connect and heal, elevating the role of gaming through their technology.

Another great one was by Google called ‘Voice It Out #YukBukaSura, ‘ which centred around empowering women in Indonesia to speak their voices.

It leveraged the voice search feature to prompt more extensive topical conversations in the region. By making the voice search feature a part of something more topical and meaningful, it ingrained itself more deeply into their lifestyle, increasing its everyday adoption.

Elias Karam, Strategy Director, Grey Dubai

2 Make It All About Me, Down to the Letter:

Who doesn’t love celebrating their own uniqueness and tastes? Technologies have taken our desire to personalise the abstract and generic, known in the behavioural science world as the ‘Barnum effect’, and use big data to create insights that are so hyper-personalised that they connect to our very core.

No case study has captured this as immaculately and as successfully as ‘Spotify Wrapped’.

3 Don’t Make Me Work for It:

The greater the behavioural change, the less likelihood of adoption. The technologies that find the most traction are the ones that have little to no deviation from our existing everyday behaviour.

Sprinkle that with a little human insight, and you’re gold.

Airbnb has time and time again switched on to that, hijacking the existing behaviour of people booking their accommodations online and giving them more reason to use their platform.

The brand recently launched its ‘Get an Airbnb’ campaign that lightheartedly shows the mismatch between what you hope to get out of a holiday and how a hotel gets in the way of that.

The approach is even seen when it comes to their Airbnb Experiences, taking a page from Viator and Get Your Guide and then adding it to their platform to create a one-stop shop travel planner.

Of course, it will take more than these three factors to get consumers to adopt a new platform or technology, but it still offers a key window into the consumer’s mind to understand what platforms and technologies need to achieve to move across the adoption curve.

By Elias Karam, Strategy Director for GREY Dubai