The Bandwagon Effect, aka the inclination to follow trends and fads, occurs because people gain information from others and desire to conform .

What is the bandwagon effect?

This cognitive bias refers to people ’ s tendency to do something just because other people do it, careless of whether this aligns with their master beliefs. The term bandwagon stems from the phrases “ jump on the bandwagon ” or “ hop on the bandwagon ” which are typically used in a derogative manner to refer to the act of becoming matter to in or following an natural process to gain the acceptance or recognition of others. It is much associated with those who follow a vogue without having made a intellectual evaluation of the idea but have quite copied the behavior of others. This is a similar phenomenon to ‘ herd mentality ’ or ‘ groupthink ’ .

Where does the phrase come from?

The terminus stemmed from the phrase “ jump on the bandwagon ” which first appeared in american politics in 1848. Dan Rice, a celebrated and democratic circus clown of the time, used his bandwagon and its music to gain attention for his political crusade appearances.

Bandwagon effect examples

There are many examples of the bandwagon impression in action, not only in-store and on-line within retail, but in across-the-board context excessively :

  1. Food and drink: wine shoppers will often go for the bottle that appears well depleted on the shelf because surely this signifies that this brand has been a popular purchase? Ultimately, shoppers are persuaded into purchasing because other shoppers have purchased before them. 
  2. Fashion: many people are influenced by celebrities and popular culture, meaning that they adopt a certain style of clothing after they have seen their favourite public figure sporting the look.
  3. Music: once an artist has broken into the music industry, their music popularity will snowball as more and more people begin listening to their songs, recommending them or sharing their music on social platforms.
  4. Social Media: not only is social media influential, but new platforms rely on the bandwagon effect for their own market domination – take TikTok as an example: as increasing numbers of people started using this network, other individuals jumped on the bandwagon and used it too.
  5. Politics: research suggests that people are more likely to vote for a candidate if they already have a majority backing or are perceived to be ‘winning’. This psychological phenomenon can influence our thoughts and opinions on life-changing choices. 

5f5e5918181f070f909ad611_negative20news-9158028We are influenced by what we see and hear

Why the bandwagon effect happens

As an estimate or impression increases in popularity, we are more likely to adopt it. There are a few reasons for this :

Our brain uses heuristics

Heuristics are mental shortcuts whose function is to allow quick decision-making. Thinking through a behavior or estimate before doing it takes prison term and many people skip the retentive summons of individual evaluation by relying on other people. once a notion becomes is perceived to have been ‘confirmed ‘ by others ( normally a entrust name in that plain ), it gains far-flung popularity .

We get serious FOMO

fear of Missing Out. Most of us dislike being excluded from groups, events and so on. To avoid being the curious one out, many of us conform to the demeanor or ideas of a group we find ourselves in to ensure some degree of inclusion body and social credence. Often, we find that conformity arises out of a desire for blessing from others, despite whether we actually in truth want or need the product or service in doubt. social media plays a big part in establishing this mental state of matter because we see everyone ’ mho lives and hope to be part of what they are doing. If we see a social assemble happening, we want to be separate of it. If we see person on vacation, we want to book a trip, excessively. The fear of social isolation or excommunication plays a huge character in the bandwagon impression. Whilst this can prove an highly powerful factor in accelerating business, it ’ sulfur worth remembering that people tend to jump off the bandwagon equitable equally promptly as they jumped on ! Take fidget spinners as an example – back in 2017 they were overabundant, but their popularity was ephemeral and the bangle quickly wore off .

We are sore losers

frequently, want to be on the win side, which is normally the larger and more powerful english. A large part of why people follow courtship is because they look to other people in their social group for steering on what is right or acceptable. If there appears to be lots of people doing something, we tend to believe that this is the right thing to do ; that it is socially satisfactory and possibly even encouraged. As with most cognitive biases, this desire to be on the ‘right side ‘ may be subconscious mind, meaning that we may not intentionally accept the majority opinion. It is possible that we, as humans, have evolved to instinctively support popular beliefs because standing against an authoritative and widely accepted ‘norm ‘ can be disadvantageous, potentially even dangerous .

Groupthink takes hold

We are all involve by those who we surround ourselves with ; if we are about people who exercise frequently, we are more tend to exercise besides. If we surround ourselves with people who read a lot, it encourages us to read more. That ’ s the bandwagon effect – the leaning to follow trends and fads because people gain information from others and feel a desire to conform. Often this hope is confused with press to conform with society which is why the bandwagon behaviours broadly mannequin very quickly.

5f300b01fd0a3152c72ce739_groupthink-6747153We are affected by those who surround us

Using the bandwagon effect in marketing

1. Appear popular – use scarcity tactics

A critical instigator of the bandwagon effect is perceived popularity. Aim for your brand to appear as though you are identical popular and that you are the choice many other people go for – one of the most-used ad techniques you ‘ll find in digital market ! Limit handiness in-store to encourage buying demeanor. It ’ sulfur equitable like when you see ‘ merely 1 room left ’ on a hotel reservation ! not alone does the urgency make you want to book but the perceive popularity makes you think it must be a dear choice.

2. Dominate the market – be everywhere

otherwise known as the mere exposure effect. The more shoppers see your trade name, the easier it will be for them to recognise it and therefore, the more popular they will perceive it. The more people perceive it as democratic, the stronger the effect, meaning sales snowball. To use the hotel exercise again, any good tourist will scout out versatile platforms to find the best deal – no surprise that if the same hotel is listed on, Trivago, Expedia and more, the tourist will be more incline to book that specific hotel.

3. Dominate conversation – be talked about

Give shoppers and consumers reasons to ‘jump on the bandwagon ‘ by involving your brand in their wide conversation, such as on social media. The bandwagon effect is in wide push on sociable platforms, such as Instagram, with influencers making millions from becoming trendsetters and getting others to follow befit. luxury hotels evening offer absolve nightlong stays to these influencers precisely so they ‘ll share images of the hotel rooms and facilities, subconsciously encouraging their followers to, quite literally, follow in their footsteps.

4. Appear trusted – build credibility

have customer testimonials and ship’s company logo to showcase felicitous customers, adenine good as highlighting winder statistics to support case studies and prove your value. This is particularly effective at converting your prey hearing, particularly when it comes to online sales environments. once again, the hotel diligence are great at this – features hundreds of holidaymakers ‘ reviews on every list .

The dangers of the bandwagon effect

What is thoroughly for the majority, may not be good for you. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to animation, therefore to base decisions and behaviours off of socially accepted ‘norms ‘ could be damaging to your own desires and ambitions. Three congress of racial equality aspects of this are outlined below :

  • Although asking for opinions or researching other’s viewpoints can help in creating a well-rounded evaluation, no-one will truly understand your position except you.
  • It is important that we don’t put too much faith in popular opinion and that we judge the value of ideas and behaviours ourselves.
  • Judging ideas and behaviours on merit rather than popularity can also develop our critical thinking abilities – a transferrable skill to all walks of life.

How can consumers avoid the bandwagon effect?

While it is impossible to completely rid ourselves of the bandwagon effect, we may be able to counteract it :

  1. Slowing down our decision making process – allowing time between noticing social signals and making our own decision can allow for critical thinking and prevent us from quickly adopting an idea or behaviour which may not be morally or situationally right.
  2. Making decisions independently – of course, ask around for opinions, but evaluate them in your own time and make your final decision in an environment where you don’t feel pressured by other people.
  3. Considering alternative options – don’t be afraid to go against the majority view, you might just find the perfect solution is the complete opposite to what everyone else is doing or thinking.


The bandwagon effect is a powerful cognitive bias that offers your stigmatize the chance to grow through perceived popularity. 3 keystone takeaways :

  • This psychological phenomenon originates from politics; people vote for the candidate who appears to have the most support because they want to be part of the majority.
  • This cognitive bias dictates that people’s decisions are influenced by others who are doing the same.
  • It can be attributed to psychological, social and economic factors.

The Bandwagon Effect is No.7 in a series of cognitive bias insights. Why not check out no.8 : Base Rate Fallacy ?

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