Why Do Products Become Unpopular? Adoption Velocity and the Death of Cultural Tastes

Jonah Berger, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Gael Le Mens, Stanford University, USA
Products often catch on, but what leads once popular cultural tastes and products to be abandoned? We demonstrate the role of speed of adoption: Analysis of over 100 years of data on first name adoption illustrates that cultural tastes that have been adopted quickly die faster (less likely to persist). Mirroring this aggregate pattern, expecting parents are hesitant to adopt names that recently experienced sharper increases in adoption. Ancillary analysis indicate that these effects are driven by symbolic value: Fads are perceived negatively, so people avoid identity relevant items with sharply increasing popularity because they believe they will be short-lived.
[ to cite ]:
Jonah Berger and Gael Le Mens (2010) ,"Why Do Products Become Unpopular? Adoption Velocity and the Death of Cultural Tastes", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 81-84 .