03.A food fad?
Remember when goji berries were going to pump us full of antioxidants? And when a quick shot of wheatgrass was going to replace a whole plateful of green veggies? When it comes to any kind of trend, like that of coconut oil, there is usually a catalyst.
Consumer psychologist and adman Adam Ferrier wrote a PhD on what makes things cool. His number one finding was that it’s impossible for something to be cool without cool people using it. Things become cool by their association with people (more so than the other way around).
Anatomy of a trend
Henrik Vejlgaard, is the author of Anatomy of a trend which examines the lifecycle of the trend process. The former academic and sociologist outlines a number of key elements he believes contribute to the development of a trend. According to Vejlgaard, trends tend to start in major global cities (he cites New York, Los Angeles, Milan, Tokyo and London as examples) and are kicked off by trendsetters. He identifies trendsetters as being a particular personality type who are key influencers in their social groups and are open to change.
The tastes of these key influencers are often picked up quickly in major cities and adopted by groups such as designers, the wealthy and celebrities. The process is then a cycle of observing and copying by the wider population with the help of the media.
And when it comes to extolling the wonders of coconut oil, plenty of cool people are getting in on the act, from Angelina Jolie to popular Australian anti-sugar advocate, blogger and media personality Sarah Wilson. But the oil’s most prominent proponent is probably supermodel Miranda Kerr, who she says she eats it by the spoonful every day, as well as using it in her hair and skincare routine.
Added to that already potent mix, are preliminary studies that show there might be some evidence of benefits (which are often misinterpreted and generalised into pop science) and suddenly coconut oil is being hailed as the next wonder food.
After that, it’s not long before the product is trickling down from a global phenomenon to the local supermarket and reaching saturation point.