SMB Now Blog: The blog for small to medium sized business.


You want me to buy you what? The Silly Bandz effect.

Today’s economy is anything but silly, but a success story everyone has most likely heard about by now is the Silly Bandz phenomenon. Where did it come from? More importantly, in an economy that is just starting to struggle back to its feet, how does one man make a fortune off of silicone rubber bands? For every genius invention that goes unnoticed, there is another that turns the market on its head with its simplicity. While parents are scratching their heads as their children scream for more rubber bracelets, and other small business owners look on in confused awe, creator Robert Croak is probably smiling smugly. The good news is there are a few simple steps that can be taken to make your small business a success, even if your product is more complicated than a hippopotamus shaped rubber band.

Every smart business owner knows that while the adult is the money maker, it is the child that is the spender. One look from those big eyes, and there is no hope for Daddy or Mommy. With a lip pout and a pleading note in the voice almost any child can coerce their parent into buying whatever they please. No parent wants their child to look less hip or popular next to their peers. Let’s have a look at a few enormous fads of the past few years and their similarities.

• Silly Bandz
o Small silicone arm bracelets, that when not being worn form different shapes. They come in many different colors and shapes, such as: Animal, Vehicle, Garden, and Music. Highly collectible and are traded among children.

Beanie Babies
o Soft, bean-filled stuffed animals. Beanie Babies were the brainchild of Ty company, and while their popularity has waned, they had a long run, culminating in parents buying hundreds of happy meals to find the specific bean and cloth animal that Junior demanded. Another collectors item that seemed to capture the imagination of children, as well as the imagination of a few not-so-well-adjusted adults.

• Pokeman
o While Pokeman came in many forms, ranging from action figures to computer games, the card game was easily the biggest cash cow for creator Satoshi Tajir. Packs of cards would sell for around five dollars, and the goal was to, by the luck of the draw, garner the much-prized holographic cards. Leagues were formed for the card games, with much of the 1990’s child population claiming to be “Trainers”.

Now after we’re done rolling our eyes about the silliness of all of this, anyone will grudgingly admit that the creators of these products were marketing geniuses. The question is now what do these products have in common, and how can a product-based small business create a product that will capture the imagination of children while also capturing the contents of their parents wallets? As far as uniting factors in the aforementioned products, a few characteristics stick out.


• Collectibility

• Small price
• Possibility of finding the rare card/band/stuffed animal.

With these factors in place, you create not only a demand, but a comfort for parents in the fact that the product, in its singular form, doesn’t cost over ten dollars. It is easier to stomach dumping ten dollars ten times over one month than it is to dump one hundred dollars at one time. The reigning king of fads, Silly Bandz, incorporates all three of these factors. They are easy to collect in enormous amounts, they are inexpensive at three to five dollars a pack, and one child is always going to have a certain shape or color that another child desires, therefore sparking the demand for a certain silly band. When you look at the broad spectrum of possibilities for money making that these little rubber bracelets offer, it suddenly doesn’t seem so silly.
Clearly a few simple factors can turn your product from a dud into the next Silly Bandz. If Robert Croak can make a fortune out of something I find wrapped around my morning newspaper, it is most definitely possible. Any one person is only one incredibly simple idea away from having hoards of salivating children and exasperated parents lining up around the block from the boutique, waiting for the newest release of the latest fabulous product. Good luck!


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