No year is complete without a here-today-gone-tomorrow trend. They come from out of nowhere, dominate the headlines and fill shop shelves for weeks and sometimes months… and then they’re gone with every bit of the haste they arrived with. In 2016, we had Pokémon Go and this year we’ve gone analogue with the Fidget Spinner.
As with everything nowadays, it’s revealing to follow the Fidget Spinner trend on digital to understand just where it’s come from and how brands can take advantage. In this article, Neon does just that, but first of all we need to answer the core question…
The Fidget Spinner is a typically two or three-pronged toy (though some six-sided spinners exist) that’s small enough to fit in your pocket. The person playing with the device holds it by an indented bearing at the centre of the design with their thumb and forefinger, and spins it around. Fidget Spinners come in a variety of colours and styles, and are made from a wide range of materials, including brass, stainless steel and plastic, making them highly customisable.
Though the toy has only hit the headlines this year, it’s actually been around since the 1990s. Chemical Engineer Catherine Hettinger conceived of a “spinning toy” in 1993 during her struggles with myasthenia gravis, a disorder that causes the muscles to weaken and made it difficult for her to play with her daughter. “I couldn’t pick up her toys or play with her much at all, so I started throwing things together with newspaper and tape then other stuff,” she told the Guardian.
Helping the toy rise is its therapeutic quality. Much more than a simple gadget, the Fidget Spinner is used by ADHD, autism and anxiety sufferers as a way to encourage relaxation and focus. “Promoting fidgeting is a common method for managing attention regulation,” Elaine Taylor-Klaus, co-founder of ImpactADHD told CNN. “What a fidget allows some people – not all people – with ADHD to do is to focus their attention on what they want to focus on because there’s sort of a background motion that’s occupying that need.”
Sales of the toy have gone through the roof, with Toys “R” Us executive vice president and chief merchandising officer Richard Barry telling the Chicago Tribune: “They’re pretty much evaporating the minute they get to the shelves.” It’s not just the large stores that are striking gold though. “They’re easy to get but it often takes a lot of time because they’re so backed up,” one smartphone repair shop owner selling Fidget Spinners told Vice. “I placed an order for 10,000 spinners eight days ago and I couldn’t get them right away because someone else had just placed an order for 2 million.”
The fad has still to hit its peak. Though part of the charm of Fidget Spinners is their pocket money price, some high-end versions have emerged, tapping into people’s desire to own an exclusive version of a popular trend. Along with these versions, expect to see officially licensed releases too, featuring characters from children’s favourite films, TV shows and comic books. Fidget Spinners already dominate the sales charts on Amazon US, and we can expect that to continue for a little while yet.
Despite being around since 1993, Fidget Spinners had absolutely no search interest before the start of 2017. As the year turned, however, and the awareness around them started to spread, searches slowly grew, starting in February and hitting a peak in May.
The trend is a largely Western one. Ireland generates the most searches, followed by the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada. Beyond those countries, there’s precious little interest from other continents. Like most trends, Fidget Spinners are born out of luxury and disposable income, so where those things are harder to come by, the trend gains less traction.
For brands looking to engage with the interest in Fidget Spinners, it’s encouraging that the majority of queries are those relating to how to buy the toys. Phrases like “fidget spinners amazon,” “fidget spinners Walmart,” “ebay fidget spinners” and “target fidget spinners” are being searched for by consumers eager to pick one up, while terms aimed at helping people understand what the toys are all about are also performing well. This presents an opportunity for companies to create educational content about the toy that can be used to draw these customers into the top of the funnel and finally convert them into sales.
The digital interest isn’t just on Google though. Just as we saw with Pokémon Go last year, social media is alive with conversation. YouTube, for example, has been inundated with video content that’s generating thousands, sometimes even millions, of views in a matter of days.
Like with Google searches, there’s a strong educational quality to these videos, with ‘fidget spinner unboxing’ producing 2.3 million results and “fidget spinner review” serving 1.5 million results. YouTube also reveals a strong interest in another form of engagement: tricks and hacks. “Fidget spinner hacks” returns 1.6 million results and “Fidget Spinner tricks” produces 2.2 million. Some of the most popular trick videos have received well over 5 million views, and the customisable quality of the toy means there are many more videos, and many more views, still to come.
Facebook and Twitter throw the attention back to education. According to Buzzsumo, Facebook is by far the most active social network for sharing Fidget Spinner content, and list content, or content answering questions, is the most popular form. Consumers are looking as much to their favoured network to find out about the Fidget fad as they are Google.
Fidget Spinners have come out of nowhere to take the world by storm, and digital is playing a critical role. Consumers hear about the trend and take to social networks, YouTube and Google to learn more about the toy and where they can pick one up. Brands looking to take advantage should keep track of these platforms and develop content that can be used to draw people into the top of the funnel and push them through to the desired end goal.
What do you think of Fidget Spinners and how digital has helped push their popularity? Tweet us with your thoughts @createdbyneon.
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