The Bandwagon Effect: Definition, Factors and Advantages

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Companies can understand customer behaviour, needs and wants to influence their trends and choices. The bandwagon effect is one strategy a business can use to influence the choices of a target audience. Learning about how the effect works can help you apply it to a marketing campaign to realise positive results. In this article, we define what the bandwagon effect is, highlight examples of the effect, discuss factors that can influence the effect, go over its advantages and provide tips for employing it.

What is the bandwagon effect?

The bandwagon effect is a cognitive bias where someone adopts a certain behaviour, attitude or style following public opinion rather than evidence or belief. A customer may adopt this cognitive behaviour because they may find it more efficient to rely on the opinions of others rather than their own. The concept supports the belief that a product or service is good if certain people or enough people endorse it.

For example, a shoe company can use the bandwagon strategy when it partners up with a famous athlete to promote a new line of shoes. The partnership aims to influence the athlete's fans and rival fans to buy the shoe. Other effects can be crowd psychology, herd mentality, influencer marketing, the snowball effect or group think.

Examples of the effect

Here are examples of the effect from various industries to help you understand how it works:

  • Fashion: People may adopt a certain attire when they see a lot of people wearing them. There may also be significant influences from celebrities and public figures.

  • Music: Someone may be more likely to listen to a specific song or genre when more people listen to it. Performers may sell out tickets to a concert to increase their following so more people may want to see their content or attend their next performance.

  • Politics: Someone may be more likely to support popular opinions or philosophies in politics. The effect may also apply in elections where someone may choose a candidate who seems more popular or likely to win.

  • Food and beverage: Someone may try a diet or dish if they see a lot of articles recommending it. People are also more likely to choose a drink or food that seems to sell out faster because it may signify that it's popular or good.

  • Social media: Social media can be influential, as people are more likely to follow popular content or personalities. People are also more likely to join a new platform if they have more users.

  • Medicine: The effect is also present in the medical industry, as people may be more likely to use a medicine or device that many doctors recommend.

  • Technology: People may form long lines at stores before the release of a new gadget, which can influence the perception of other consumers and increase a product's value. A high number of pre-orders can also make customers perceive the product as valuable and desirable.

Related: What Is Fashion Merchandising? (Key Roles and Duties)

Factors that can influence the bandwagon effect

There can be social, economic or psychological factors that influence this effect. Some factors that can influence the effect include:

Group think

People may find it easier to go with the thinking of a group rather than pursuing a separate opinion. Some may even join in agreement when they actually disagree with a group's thinking. For example, in politics, a voter may change their choice because the majority believe the opponent may be better. They may also find it easier to change their opinion than to defend a candidate who may seem less likely to win.

Winning perception

People may contribute to a bandwagon because of their desire to win. They may conform to various opinions if they rely on other social group members for information on what's acceptable. People may also believe something is right if many others also believe it's correct. For example, fans may support or believe a team can win if it has more supporters than other teams.

Sense of belonging

Humans may often seek approval or acceptance into various social groups. They may conform to a bandwagon because it can be an easier way to join the group. For example, someone who follows a social group, activity or sport may make a related purchase, such as clothing or tickets, to signify membership for a group.

Efficient decision making

Joining a bandwagon may be more efficient for making decisions. For example, someone shopping for a mobile phone may come across two brands. One is significantly more expensive, with better aesthetic value and a wider fan base, while the other has superior features. A customer can choose the more expensive phone because it has more users. Another example is when people choose to watch a movie with a famous actor but a poor plot over a movie with a good plot but no famous actors.

Related: What Are Decision-Making Skills? (Definition and Examples)

Fear of exclusivity

A business can rely on people's fear of missing out on trends to influence and improve their sales. A company can limit a product's supply or set deadlines for discounts to create an exclusivity period as a sign of value and popularity. Information can also create a fear of exclusivity, where a certain group may know something you don't. It may influence people to take actions such as investing in a startup early enough or purchasing a pair of shoes because only 2,000 pairs are available.

Advantages of the bandwagon strategy

Here are some of the common benefits of the effect:

  • Create or increase demand: A product or service that seems popular may create more demand, as it can be a sign of value. The effect can also help increase consumer focus for new products to gain more sales.

  • Adopt healthy behaviours: The effect can promote positive changes, such as healthy behaviours. For example, it can inspire people to engage more in exercise and diet routines.

  • Gain positive reviews: Businesses can use a bandwagon strategy to increase the number of product reviews, which can positively impact a business. Consumers may be more likely to engage businesses with positive reviews or high ratings.

  • Take advantage of trends: When a new trend starts, a company can take advantage by promoting a relevant product or service and setting competitive prices.

Tips to employ the effect to your advantage

Here are some tips you can employ to help a company benefit from the effect:

Plan adequately

Adequate planning can help create a positive impact on customers, brands or products. It's important to consider how a bandwagon strategy supports the goals of a brand or business. It's also essential to identify target markets and monitor their interests. Determine the most likely factors to motivate target customers, such as decision-making efficiency or social belonging. Ensure your marketing campaigns take advantage of these factors.

Related: Career Development Plan: Definition, Guide and Example

Encourage sharing

Information can be an important element of use the bandwagon strategy to increase brand exposure. You can encourage customers to share a company's message through social media posts or newsletters. Remember to ask customers to share their experience with a product or service. Their testimonial or review can help a brand or product to achieve a positive image among potential users and build trust in the market.

Partner with influencers

Celebrity influence can significantly impact the promotion of products or services. Influencers usually have large followings who trust their choices and recommendations. For example, a car manufacturer or dealership can partner with a car blogger to use and review a new vehicle. This can help increase brand awareness and generate sales leads.

Related: What Is Marketing Communication? Definition and Career Paths

Monitor trends

Monitor various trends relevant to a product or business to identify those that you can utilise for a bandwagon strategy. You can alter promotional messages or certain product features to match trends. For example, a company that makes white bread may observe a trend where people prefer to eat healthy products, so they introduce brown bread to take advantage of the trend.

Showcase numbers or results

The success of a bandwagon strategy can rely on a company's historical records. A business can showcase figures, such as the number of social media followers, clients or sales, to impress consumers. A business is more likely to gain new customers if they have positive trends. For example, an author of a book can display the number of copies they've already sold on their website or on the book itself. Consumers can use this information to judge whether an author is worth reading.

Employ scarcity techniques

You can create a bandwagon strategy by generating urgency through marketing techniques. For example, you can use phrases such as limited stock or only a few left to create a sense of urgency among consumers. This sense of urgency can influence consumers to believe they're getting a better deal.

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