Exactly what is a fad or trend?

A fad, sometimes called a trend, meme or a craze, is any form of behavior that develops among a large population and is collectively followed with enthusiasm for some period, generally as a result of the behavior’s being perceived as novel in some way.  A fad is said to “catch on” when the number of people adopting it begins to increase rapidly. The behavior will normally fade quickly once the perception of novelty is gone.

The specific nature of the behavior associated with a fad can be of any type including language usage, apparel, financial investment, and even food. Apart from general novelty, fads may be driven by emotional excitement, peer pressure, or even a desire to be outside social norms (counterculture).

What is the difference in a fad and a trend?

The major difference in a fad and a trend is duration.  Fads are often short lived while trends continue for years or decades.  In most cases though, fad and trend are synonymous and mean the exact same thing.  Though the term trend may be used interchangeably with fad, a fad is generally considered a fleeting behavior whereas a trend is considered to be a behavior that evolves into a relatively permanent change

How do fads and trends get started?

Conventional wisdom says fads and trends typically start on the east (New York) and west (California) coasts but they do occasionally start in the middle of the country too.  Some start by accident while others are planned.  For instance, the Silly Bandz (colored bracelets) craze started in Birmingham, Alabama.  Silly Bandz began by suggesting to kids what they should do with them – wear them, trade them, and collect them.  Kids picked up on this and began trading Silly Bandz making them much like real currency.  In addition, Silly Bandz controlled certain models of the bracelet which created scarcity and made some more valuable, and in demand, than others.  Another example of a fad that did not start on the eastern or western coasts are Crocs shoes which started in Canada and then moved into Colorado.

Fads and trends are often started by celebrities or other public persons.  Kids see the famous person behaving a certain way or wearing a certain item and in an effort to emulate their hero, the behavior spreads.