Silly Bandz are silicone rubber bands in the form of animals (e.g., tree frogs, dolphins, geckos), objects, letters, Barbie, and Justin Bieber. They can be worn as bracelets, and revert to their original shape once taken off. They are mainly aimed at Tweens, who collect and trade them. But boys and girls as young as 5 have start wearing (and trading) them.
Robert Croak is the rubber band man who came up with the idea after seeing a similar product designed for Japanese offices. His business has grown 10 times in the past six months. Croak is currently shipping millions of Silly Bandz weekly.
What contributes to the marketing success of the Silly Bandz fad?
The shapes and colors appeal to te target market. The bands are coveted by both boys and girls (the picture shows a 5-year old boy showing his collection), and several ages groups (from 5 up to 15). The appeal is global, which explains its quick adoption in non-US markets. The bands also give their owners a certain status and bargaining power among their peers.
Silly Bandz cleverly discontinues less popular shapes, while introducing new ones (e.g., Justin Bieber, Helllo Kitty, and iCarly).
Collecting and trading
Collectability always extends the lifespan of a fad. The longer the bands are collected, shared, and traded, the longer its product lifecycle (and income stream) will be.
Affordability and packaging
In a US retail store, Silly Bandz sell between $3 for a pack of 12 to $5 for a pack of 24 items.
The product is affordable for the target group that has the spending power. As Croak puts it: "Let's face it. In a tough economy, any parent can afford to spend $5 to get their kid something they really want." The packaging is a small, no-nonsense, transparent plastic bag; "what you see is what you get".
Croak uses social media for marketing buzz, including a blog. The Silly Bandz Facebook page has over 700,000 fans. Its Twitter feed has more than more than 15,000 followers. As Michael Lewis, CEO of Forever Collectibles points out: "it's 100% viral. When one kid finds it at a store, in two seconds the kid or his mother is on the phone texting that they've found them."
In addition to Silly Bandz, there are also Silly Ringz, Silly Necklace, SillyBandz Caribinerz, and Silly Buttons.
But Silly Bandz is facing two major threats:
- Some schools have banned the silicon bands since they could pose a distraction (e.g., kids trading in class) or pose a physical danger (e.g., used as rubber bands to snap others).
- Although Silly Bandz is trademarked, it was only a matter of time, until other brands would appear. Silly Bandz has its share of imitations/competitors, e.g., Zanybandz and Crazy Bands.
But for now, Silly Bandz are still selling like crazy. Silly Bandz also seem to enter the adult market - as a flirtation tool. Singles at bars and clubs are slipping the object of their desire a Silly Band to show that they are interested in a stranger that they just met there. This could open a whole new market segment for Silly Bandz.