Have you ever bought a branded piece of clothing just because every third person was wearing it? Or started watching Game of Thrones just because you didn’t want to be the only one in the company who doesn’t know who Daenerys Targaryen is? Whether intentionally or not, you must’ve been a victim of the bandwagon effect yourself at some point.
In addition to being present as a psychological phenomenon in every sphere of our daily lives, the bandwagon effect is an important concept in marketing as well. So, let’s define it.
What is the Bandwagon Effect?
Psychology Today defines the bandwagon effect as “a psychological phenomenon whereby people do something primarily because other people are doing it, regardless of their own beliefs, which they may ignore or override.”
According to Verywell Mind, the bandwagon effect is a type of cognitive bias, influenced and caused by different social factors such as groupthink, a desire to be right, and a need to be included.
Over time, however, the bandwagon effect has acquired a bad reputation as a means of manipulation aimed at influencing large masses so as to join a trend in consumer behavior or politics. The main driving force behind the bandwagon effect is the belief that since so many other people are using it or doing it or buying it, then it has to be good.
But what was the original meaning of the phrase? And how did it evolve into its today’s meaning?
The Origin of the Phrase “Bandwagon Effect”
Here’s the dictionary entry of the word “bandwagon”:
In past, the term “bandwagon” was used to refer to a wagon used for carrying a band in a parade. Its contemporary meaning should allegedly be attributed to Dan Rice, a clown who campaigned for President Zachary Taylor during the 19th-century presidential campaign. Most of Rice’s campaign events revolved around a bandwagon and he often encouraged the crowds to “jump on the bandwagon” and show their support for Taylor.
As, today, we remember Zachary Taylor as the 12th US president, it’s easy to conclude that Rice’s campaign was a success. This has led many future candidates to use bandwagons in their campaigns hoping for similar results, thus making bandwagons an integral part of many political campaigns by the early 20th century.
As a consequence, the expression “to jump on the bandwagon” has acquired a derogatory meaning. Today, it’s used to denote the social phenomenon when people desire to be part of the majority even if it opposes their own beliefs and principles.
The Bandwagon Effect in Practice
Nowadays, the bandwagon effect is present in almost every sphere. Politics, sports, marketing, fashion, you name it. You must’ve encountered many examples of people just wanting to be a part of the “cool crowd” in order to fit in or advance, but here is one of our own, just to make sure the concept is clear enough.
The bandwagon effect is particularly easy to observe within the sports fandoms. We’ve all had that one friend who always cheered for the winning team. Even if it’s a different team every season. Some even base their bandwagoning activities, not on a team, but on a particular player.
Let’s take an example straight from the NBA. In the season 2009/2010, Miami Heat averaged 17,730 fans. This was the season before it they announced LeBron James was leaving Cleveland for Miami.
After LeBron started playing for Miami, he led the Heat to 4 consecutive NBA Finals, two of which they won. During those 4 seasons, Miami’s home attendance averaged at around 20,000 fans. Welcome to the LeBron bandwagon. Should we expect the same bandwagon effect now that he has left Miami for LA Lakers?
How the Bandwagon Effect Affects Your Company
As a company owner, you want more and more people jumping on your bandwagon and becoming customers, right? Sure, more customers means more sales, but is every customer really a desirable customer?
If you’re careful about your online reputation and looking to build a strong base of loyal users, this may be a dangerous territory. After all, you don’t want anyone buying your product just because “everybody else is doing so” – you want to attract the right customers, your ideal buyer personas.
When a bunch of people spends a lot of their hard-earned money on a product they don’t really need but it’s “cool”, “hip”, and “everyone has it”, they are very likely to be disappointed with their purchase. And they are likely to express that disappointment to their friends, on social media, on review platforms, and so on, thus damaging your reputation.
Of course, nobody would care about the fact that a particular customer wasn’t the right person for your product – it’s your product that would be seen as “not right”.
On the other hand, by gathering a bandwagon of people who could be your right customers, you will ensure a lot of positive word of mouth that could lead to increased brand awareness, greater customer loyalty, and larger brand equity.
As you could see above, the bandwagon effect can have both positive and negative impact. So, you need to find a way to leverage it so as to benefit your business or brand.
How to Leverage the Bandwagon Effect Using Online Quizzes
Of course, leveraging the bandwagon effect doesn’t mean taking advantage of your ignorant potential customers. Quite the contrary, leveraging the bandwagon effect means focusing on those people who need your product or service the most, making sure to get them on your bandwagon and keep them there for a long time as your loyal customers.
But what’s the most efficient way to do it? I have two words for you – online quizzes.
Online quizzes are another example of the bandwagon effect that I didn’t mention above. Buzzfeed, one of the most popular online quizzes platforms, has a global audience of over 650 million users, responsible for more than 9 billion monthly content views. Moreover, just one quiz, titled ‘Can we guess your real age?’, was taken an incredible 5.9 million times.
It all started with Buzzfeed and it all started for fun. But after seeing the Buzzfeed quizzes go viral, many brands adopted this new approach to interactive content and quickly saw huge improvements in the way they do business online.
Let’s take Barlow Herbal Specialities as an example.
When they decided to add a new sales channel using online marketing, they focused on quizzes. Why quizzes? Because of their huge popularity, online quizzes have become the newest social media bandwagon.
So, they created and promoted 2 quizzes. After taking the quiz, people had to opt in with their email address to receive results. The results? Quizzes were a huge hit and Barlow Herbal managed to build their email list by 11,660 new prospects.
One study shows that 96% of participants who start a Buzzfeed quiz finish it. Even though people spend just a couple of minutes taking the quiz and then probably forget about it, quizzes can bring you strong engagement, high conversion rate, and valuable data.
Such strong engagement brought GothRider, for example. a 30% email sign-up rate and 75,000 leads from just one quiz.
According to Steve Olenski:
“Quizzes currently offer some of the best return on investment that you can hope for in Internet marketing.”
Let us show you how you can sail on the popularity of these quizzes and take advantage of this bandwagon effect to generate more leads and sales for your business. Learn how to create your own quiz right now!