Tween trends come and go like ocean tides, but the fad curve of Rainbow Loom surprised even jaded trend-watchers for its particularly fast downfall, much to the dismay of retailers hoping Rainbow Loom would be a strong holiday seller.
The perils of mass availability
"This was and is a trend that is so easy to get into that everybody and anybody that wanted to sell rubber brands is selling rubber bands. It is overly distributed," says Thomas Vellios, president of the tween retailer Five Below (NASDAQ: FIVE ) , speaking with financial analysts during his company's third quarter conference call. The company was quick to capitalize on the trend, but soon noticed kids lost enthusiasm. "Just to help everyone understand this sort of trend a little bit," says Vellios, "the big sales tend to be the rubber bands, so it's sort of like that razor blade part of the business."
Still, there were opportunities to prolong this trend. Toys R Us, for instance, held free in-store weekend lessons throughout the fall to help kids master this hobby. These lessons could have expanded into other category expansions, such as keychains or necklaces, or stores could have introduced materials beyond rubber bands to keep tweens interested and excited.
Meanwhile, Silly Bandz -- rubber band bracelets in shapes of animals and symbols -- lengthened its popularity through brand licensing. Sports teams, animated cartoons, and pop stars all introduced Silly Bandz merchandise months after its initial craze. This, in turn, attracted old and new fans back to wearing these items.
It is reasonable to assume the same could have happened for Rainbow Loom. The New York Yankees, for instance, could have introduced rubber bands in the official colors of the team. Hello Kitty's brand licensor Sanrio could have created a Hello Kitty-endorsed collection featuring various pink rubber band colors.
What's the next trend?
Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible for tweens to return to a trend after they have already moved on. Now, tween trend-watchers are predicting that socks for boys, uniquely colored lipstick or lip gloss for girls, and smartphone accessories are the emerging trends to watch in 2014.