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5 Business Fads That Are on Their Way Out

image for LightFieldStudios / Getty Images
LightFieldStudios / Getty Images
  • Business fads are a great way to make money if you are smart about knowing when to get out.
  • If you are in the fad business, you should know the difference between a fad and a trend. 
  • It is important to know the expected duration of a fad before you invest a lot of time and money into it. 

Remember when there was a frozen yogurt chain in almost every town? Today, many of these once-popular establishments are out of business; like fashion, business is subject to the ebb and flow of consumer hype, and such fads tend not to last very long.

"Don't assume your fad is going to have revenue beyond a pretty short time," Mary Gale, a lecturer in entrepreneurship at Babson College in Massachusetts, told the Asbury Park Press. "Plan for the demise of that business, and don't fool yourself about when it's going to be."

A business fad is a trend that captures a lot of attention and energy in a short period of time. Fads appear during times when people are making a lot of purchases, such as the holiday season.

Fads start quickly and are limited to one industry, such as clothes. Oftentimes, a fad is tied to an event, like the Olympics. 

When you are thinking about starting a business fad, you need to act fast. If you want to make a profit, you have to get in the business before the fad ends, and you need to have enough money for the product, a place to sell it and a marketing plan. It can be challenging to come up with that much capital in a short period. You must be prepared to work long days and nights to maximize profits within a short period of time. 

Before starting a business based on a trend, it's important to study the fad and the market. For example, determine how many of your competitors are selling a similar product, when the fad started and how long it will continue. It's easier to figure out when fads associated with an event will end, so this information can help you determine how much time and money to invest in the fad. You will need to use social media to market and spread information about the product you are selling. You can also consider coupons and introductory offers. 

Owning a fad business could diminish your entrepreneurial spirit, but there are ways to bounce back. Here are some business trends that entrepreneurs said they expect to die off in the coming years and how those trends can be adapted to fit the changing market.

Subscription services are all the rage right now, but Jeff Neal, creator of a mud-run series turned project manager and estimator, said box-subscription companies – businesses that send subscribers curated boxes of items every month – will taper off because they are more interesting than practical. Over time, he said, you will end up with way more of a certain product – like coffee, wine or cleaning products – than you could possibly need or use.

If you run a box-subscription company, you might want to consider finding a "common denominator" with another type of business and adapting, Neal said. For example, you could branch out into retail sales: Subscription services like Julep (cosmetics) and Blue Apron (meal ingredients) allow subscribers to skip their monthly deliveries and instead purchase related products individually from the service's websites.

The trend of e-commerce "daily deal" websites hit complete market saturation in 2014, said Mike Catania, co-founder and chief technology officer of savings community Promotion Code. However, with so many ties to small business communities, daily-deals sites could easily morph into location-based apps that curate retail deals nearby, he said.

"Entrepreneurs in the field could also diversify by moving into the popular rebates arena, as they likely have significant amounts of purchase data from their existing daily-deal customers," Catania added.

The emerging information about the dangers of UV tanning has decreased the demand for traditional tanning beds. However, it is possible to stick with the tanning business and remain profitable, said Eric Anderson, CEO of Unlimited Tan. Switching the focus to spray tanning can increase business and even bring in a whole new clientele that would normally not visit a tanning salon.

"Adding a spray booth or custom spray tanning is a must to adapt to the changing needs of your customer base," Anderson said. He added that creative marketing and partnerships will keep customers engaged.

Although the teeth-whitening market has been alive and well since the days of the ancient Egyptians and Romans, today's health-conscious consumers are wary of modern methods like bleaching and laser treatments. Max Robinson, owner of Teeth Whitening Belfast, said he does far less traditional laser teeth whitening than he used to do, because most of his customers are now looking for natural treatments. As a result, he has had to diversify his business, he said.

"We use a lot of coconut oil, charcoal and baking soda, and provide different [whitening] treatments," Robinson said.

Pokemon Go was the most popular new app in the summer of 2016. But how many people do you know who still play the game regularly? AJ Saleem, academy director of Suprex Learning Houston, said he expects gaming apps capitalizing on nostalgia to die off in the coming year, if not sooner, because the games eventually lose their popularity (again).

"There are definitely ways to prolong its popularity, such as adding new additions and updating, but eventually, the game will die out," Saleem said. "Those popular games aren't meant to last forever."

Business News Daily Editor

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