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The Unicorn Effect

Unicorn colors are everywhere. The multicolored, pastel concoctions spread across food and fashion. While the unicorn may have long been a mythological beast and/or Lisa Frank character, now #unicorn trends are seeping into lattes, unicorn and mermaid toast alike, plus hair and makeup in ways you’d never imagined.

This year, the effect on social was instantaneous. Pinterest, geared towards retail and CPG verticals, found that searches for unicorn-inspired food climbed 394% in 2017.

On Instagram, the number of hashtags points explicitly to the power of brands. First, there was the #rainbowbagel. That’s right, the bagel swirled the colors of the rainbow in a sugary delicacy that fueled hype in New York City and beyond. From there, #rainbowfood took off.

But nothing compares to the #unicornfrappuccino. At more than 158,000 posts tagged, the Starbucks drink bordered on an Instagram phenomenon.

Though Starbucks only offered it for five days, the number of posts skyrocketed as everyone flocked to the stores, obsessively sharing on social media: not only were there more than 158,000 posts tagged, but there were more than 5000 photos with misspelled #unicornfrappucino. It is a testament to a brand’s ability to leverage user behavior, capitalizing on existing trends and interests as channelled through one of the fastest-growing social platforms. And now? While you can’t get one of these frappuccinos any longer, copycats are springing up, and all eyes are on Starbucks as they continue to launch innovative new products.

The success has been imitated by other CPG brands to engage audiences, with everyone awaiting the next big thing. Pinterest points to the growing fascination with “millennial pink,” whereas other magazines are looking at all things “charcoal,” from lattes to hairstyles, and even ice cream!

If you’d like to stay on top of these hot trends, let’s talk.