What is a Trend?

In 1929, as the United States plunged into the Great Depression, people had little time or money to spend playing golf. But several entrepreneurs set “miniature golf courses” in cities, and the idea took hold of the nation with a vengeance. Miniature golf spread over the entire country, and some people were predicting that the game would replace all other sports as the country’s favorite form of recreation. The craze died out within six months (LaPiere, 1932).

By definition, Trend is the general direction in which the attitudes, interests, and actions of a large segment of a population change over time, including fashion trends, fads, and crazes.

Trends are changes in attitudes, actions, and behaviors that influence large segments of a population, such as whole communities or regions.

Many of these changes are relatively pedestrian ones; shifts in the use of the Internet, for example, illustrate the diffusion of a technological innovation across the world. Others, in contrast, are more capricious and unpredictable.

A fad Opens in new window, for example, is an unexpected, short-lived change in the opinions, behaviors, or lifestyles of a large number of widely dispersed individuals. Fads such as the Hula Hoop, Live Strong bracelets, and Mood rings are remarkable both because they influence so many people so rapidly and because they disappear without leaving any lasting impact on society.

Crazes are similar to fads in most respects, except that they are just a bit more irrational, expensive, or widespread. Streaking (running naked) on college campuses, the widespread use of cocaine in the 1980s, and playing hacky sack all qualify as crazes.

Finally, fads that pertain to styles of dress or manners are generally termed fashion trends. Clamdiggers gave way to hip-huggers, which were supplanted by bellbottoms, which lost out to blue jeans, which gave way to khaki. Ties and lapels expand and contract, women’s hemlines move up and down, and last season’s color takes a backseat to this season’s shade (Ragone, 1981).

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