What exactly is it?
Have you ever heard someone tell you to stop jumping on the bandwagon? The bandwagon effect is a theory in psychology where people do things simply because other people are doing them, even though they don’t really believe in them. Such people will usually compromise on their own beliefs just to follow what seems trendy. It can also be referred to as “herd mentality” or “group think“.
The phrase comes from the use of a bandwagon, which is a float in a parade that encourages people to jump aboard and enjoy the music that is being played. Because the music is contagious and catchy, it ensures that large numbers of people jump on.
The implications of the bandwagon effect
There are a lot of implications of the bandwagon effect but it is usually seen in areas of politics and consumer behaviour.
In politics, someone might choose to vote for a candidate just because other people are doing it or because the candidate seems popular. This principle was also used from the 19th century in political campaigns to link candidates with the notion of having fun and to point out those who are not on the bandwagon as missing out.
The modern-day bandwagon effect and how it’s used
The bandwagon effect is now understood to mean a form of manipulation to influence people so that they can join a trend in politics and consumer behaviour. The premise is that since a lot of people are doing (or buying it), it must be good, trendy or at least acceptable. People who jump on the bandwagon hardly ever take the time to examine how their actions will affect them or others.
The bandwagon effect also explains why there are so many fashion trends. You see a Youtuber purchase something today and the next day, it’s sold out in stores because everyone has hopped on the bandwagon and gone out to get it. It creates an illusion of popularity in such a way that makes people say: “If everyone has it, then, I must get it too.”
If carried out well, the illusion will be accepted by people, thereby increasing its popularity. For instance, if someone is running for office and the polls show that he/she is the most popular candidate or has the strongest support, the candidate will receive additional support from the people.
Advantages of the bandwagon effect
The bandwagon effect is simply persuasion and control as a marketing strategy. Companies can use this kind of persuasion to sway consumers’ opinions of a particular product. It is very useful as a marketing strategy.
When the bandwagon effect is executed successfully, there is usually a shortage of product. This is because demand for the product rises. As demand rises, companies have to make more of the product and thus, they boost manufacturing. This, in turn, creates more employment and profit.
Since we are affected by people around us and also by social media, the positive “trends” might be able to rub off on those who jump on the bandwagon. If we are around those who read a lot and talk about reading a lot, it stimulates us to read more. If we are associated with people who are more politically aware, it makes us pay more attention to political events and trends. If we are around people who eat healthy stuff and workout often, we are more inclined to pick up habits that enable us to live a healthy lifestyle.
Disadvantages on the bandwagon effect
When a company succeeds in making consumers buy their products using this effect, competitors usually come up with their own comparable product, which may even be cheaper. Now, everyone jumps on that other bandwagon and forgets about your own product. So, as a company, you’ve basically indirectly helped them promote their own product and lost out. As a business, you should be quick and have a fast reaction time. If your product or service sells out, the herd will look for an alternative. The competitor steals your market that you’ve worked so hard to build.
People who jump on the bandwagon all the time tend to make poor decisions as they are only doing things because someone else is doing them. The bandwagon effect can also influence how people would be likely to vote on important issues, without even thinking about the implications. Individuals just ignore their personal information signals and follow the behavior of others. This cannot be good in the long run.
What do you think about the bandwagon effect? Has there ever been a time when you ignored your gut and followed the herd? Tell us!