Learning how to capitalize on fast-moving industry trends can significantly bump sales for any ecommerce seller.
It’s an opportunity that sellers such as myself seek out like a hawk in order to quickly turn around products at some of the highest profit margins. This is especially true when one uses private labeling as a method to enter the marketplace, and ride the wave of a hot new trending item.
One of the easiest and fastest ways to profit from a trending item is to produce a secondary product relevant to the main item. This is often seen when the latest tech gadget is released, and a rash of new compatible accessory items erupt onto the marketplace.
But competition is very high when it comes to profiting from trending products, and you can’t just jump on the bandwagon and expect to be successful.
In this article I’ll tell you how I’ve made money from trends in the past, how you can identify hot products yourself, and my best tips and tricks for making the most profit with trending items.
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What is a trending product?
The best way to explain what trending products are is to look at some examples.
In recent years, U.S President Trump has become a trending topic in his own right. In the financial world, one tweet from his account can send stock markets plunging to their doom or shooting into the atmosphere!
One savvy seller, Sam Morrison of Los Angeles, decided to take this trending topic and turn it into a profitable ecommerce business. In 2017, Sam started selling flip-flops based on President Trump’s contradictory tweets through his website. He sold his entire inventory in less than a month.
Similarly on Amazon, the Kangaroo Manufacturing Company, created a red Candidate Button with snarky Trump sayings, right around the time of the Presidential election.
These novelty Presidential products have had a much longer lifespan than most trending products – and with the next Presidential elections right around the corner, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another influx of Presidential products hitting the market soon.
Let’s move on to another example… have you heard of the Baby Shark song?
Most parents of young children would have a hard-time answering “no” to that!
This viral song and dance video became so popular that it even made it onto the Billboard Hot 100 list.
Companies large and small are taking advantage of this trending song, including the Kellogg Company, which is debuting Baby Shark cereal at Sam’s Club and Walmart this year.
Of course, opportunistic sellers have flocked onto Amazon to jump on the coattails of this viral phenomenon. Some of the shark-themed items currently being sold include wristbands, bubbles, party invitations and masks.
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My experience with trending products
I had the opportunity to capitalize on a trending item in the children’s crafting niche a few years back, and it became one of my most profitable ventures to date.
An inventor by the name of Cheong Choon Ng created the hugely popular Rainbow Loom kit in 2011, and in 2013 it really took off, becoming one of the most popular toys in the world. The Rainbow Loom is a fun plastic device for crafting small rubber bands into bracelets and charms.
As a full-time Amazon FBA seller, I’ve seen how trending products can quickly take off on the ecommerce juggernaut’s platform. As Rainbow Loom was taking off, the short window of opportunity was plainly in view. I acted fast in order to get to market as quickly as possible.
My first order of business was to contact suppliers on AliExpress to find generic rubber elastic bands that I could private label and test on the market. AliExpress lets you order in small quantity batches from vendors in China. I air-freighted the items in and picked two winning vendors based on the quality of the product, the vendor’s communication with me, and their ability to have a fast turn-around time. These were all key factors in my early success with this product.
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Expanding the opportunity to $500k in 3 months
Soon after, I began to differentiate myself by combining the most popular colors together into larger packages. I began offering these packages on Amazon at a much lower overall cost to the consumer, than if they were to buy each color individually. This move helped me gain greater traction on the Amazon platform and my visibility skyrocketed.
I knew it would be a short time before my competitors started to roll in, so I decided to expand further by offering more complementary items. This increased my line-up of products to include charms, specialized kid-friendly looming needles, loom storage boxes, as well as other related products.
As Christmas time neared, I heavily stocked my best-selling loom items and hit some of my highest numbers to date. By creating complementary items for this crafting kit, I was able to hit a sales revenue of $500k in 3 months using Amazon FBA. Profit margins on those three months alone beat out my combined profits for the other 9 months of the 2013 calendar year.
I no longer sell complementary items for the Rainbow Loom. That window of opportunity has come and gone, but I’ve since seen many new vendors come in with their own private label versions.
Some have gone so far as to blatantly hijack former popular loom listings and make them their own, because of their favorable ranking. It’s all part of the cycle of selling a highly visibly product. When profit margins start to thin out, that’s a good time to make your exit before it becomes a race to the bottom for the lowest selling price.
What are the pros and cons of selling trending products?
There are various challenges that come along with selling something extremely popular and highly visible. Trends by their nature are fleeting in popularity and require precision timing for best results. Not all trend-seekers will find quick fortunes by hunting down these items.
Sellers must be prepared to compete with other sellers, each looking to take a slice of the market for themselves. Oftentimes, the war between sellers can get downright ugly as they compete for the buyer’s attention.
Advantages of trending products
Nonetheless, there are still some very good reasons why you should consider adding trending products to your portfolio.
- There is a great deal of profit to be made in a rather short period of time. Buyers are willing to pay top dollar for a popular item.
- You’ve already found an established winner within the marketplace. Creating a complementary product to a popular item has a greater chance of success than starting from scratch with an unknown product line.
- Smaller sellers can rapidly turn low investment capital into something much greater. This way, they can accelerate the growth of their main business.
Disadvantages of trending products
There are also downsides to consider when getting into this line of business:
- Timing is everything. If you come in too late, there is a strong chance the marketplace will have already become saturated, leaving your product with a grim chance of survival.
- As more and more sellers enter the marketplace, there will be an inevitable race to the bottom in terms of product pricing. Larger volume sellers will be better able to compete, while smaller sellers will eventually be drowned out.
- Trending items are temporary market items. They are not great for building long-lasting businesses. Use this selling method as a quick cash injection to your main product line.
- It’s not always fair play on Amazon. Some sellers will employ black-hat tactics to take down your listing with fake reviews, or even carry out a hostile takeover of your non-branded listing.
Selling trending products is not right for everyone. Sellers who are fast action-takers and creative thinkers are the best suited to selling trending items. They should also be highly perceptive, and keen to find opportunities that others may not easily see at first.
It’s all about entering the marketplace first and winning market share, and a little foresight can help sellers win a lead in the race.
How do you find trends?
Examples of the latest trends can be found all around us. It could be your neighbor’s daughter singing the latest tune, which later becomes known as the viral Baby Shark song. It could just as easily be your President sending out shockwaves with his latest tweet!
While they may not always be easily recognized as trends, there are ways to actively stay on top of what’s going on. The more you keep vigilant, the better you’ll become at spotting these.
Many large retailers pay insane amounts of money to companies who specialize in finding the latest trends and product opportunities, but you don’t need to. There are plenty of free resources to help you do the same.
Here are some of my best tips to help you find the next trending profitable product to sell on Amazon.
You may want to bookmark this one. I regularly keep tabs on a popular product store, OddityMall. They describe themselves as “A web magazine featuring odd gadgets, unique gifts, and amazing product design.”
OddityMall uses video to showcase some of the coolest novelty products on the market. I track which videos are performing the best in terms of views and engagement. That lets me know how much interest or demand there may be for this product. Some videos gain quick traction, which is a good clue for something that may become a trending item.
I then do a quick Google search to see if such a product has been featured in magazines or is being heavily talked about on blogs, news outlets, etc.
As a quick comparison, when the Rainbow Loom trend was just starting, it didn’t scream out “trending profitable product here!” all by itself. It happened with YouTube stars picking up the item and reviewing it on their channel, local news outlets featuring stories of the coolest new trend happening in school classrooms, and so on.
2. Industry newsletters
A second way to find trendy items is to stay on top of your industry happenings by subscribing to their channels and newsletters. More is better in this instance!
If you’re in the kitchen and home category, then look for kitchen and home industry magazines and trade newsletters. If you sell toys, then find trade journals for the toy industry.
Also subscribe to industry YouTube channels and find out who the top influencers are in there. Social platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest provide a lot of triggers for the latest trending products.
YouTube stars are often the first to catch on to the coolest new happenings on the market. Many times these stars are paid to promote items, because there is a high potential for a product to gain popularity with the heightened visibility. These products will either begin to build sales over the course of the next few months, or will fall flat and never gain good traction. Either way, it’s wise to take note of these products and keep a pulse on how well they are starting to perform.
3. Use your suppliers
A third way is to use your suppliers as a good source of information for what is being heavily sold and promoted in your market. Sourcing agents have a pulse on what’s going on in all sorts of sectors. These tips have led me to some of my most profitable products.
For me, having done this for some years, my agents in China have become my product informants. They tell me what’s going on over there, what’s getting hot in the market, and what people are ordering. If my agent in China is telling me, “Hey, this is really moving, there’s a lot of companies buying in large quantities,” then I’ll look a little deeper. Building a relationship with your vendors is really good for a long-term business model because you start getting those little tidbits of information.
After you’ve done this for a while you will get a better eye for finding trending items. Talk with people. Keep an open mind, pay attention and notice things a little more. That has been a big part of the way I come up with profitable products to sell on Amazon.
It’s also great if you can start to do some general traveling outside of your regular zone. You will start noticing what’s going on in other countries and what’s trending. There might just be something you could take back and sell on your home market.
Also read a lot about what you’re interested in. Just having more life experiences, expanding your mind and learning new things, is really going to help with your Amazon business. Start with what you know, increase your knowledge, and keep going ahead.
Finding ideas for complementary products
Once you have found a trending product that you think has potential, head back to Amazon and look for any accessories or complementary items already on sale. Amazon makes this easy with it’s “Frequently Bought Together” and “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” features.
One savvy seller’s shark-themed reward stickers show a lot of interesting related products, including wristbands, crayons and bath toys.
If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas for complementary items, then also look at the customer reviews of products within that trend. These reviews may lead you to your next product idea.
For example, reviews of the baby shark stickers show people using them on bubble bottles and party cups. You could create those products yourself to make it easier for parents to find shark-themed items for their kid’s birthday party.
Also do a Google search on the trending topic or product. Don’t restrict your research just to Amazon. Not all ecommerce sellers offer their goods on Amazon, so this is a good chance to get a broader private label idea for your new product.
If you’re looking to take advantage of the ever-trending President Trump, then here’s a product along similar lines to the shark stickers, being sold on Redbubble.
Pinterest is also a great platform for coming up with ideas. If there’s something already trending on Amazon, search for it on Pinterest. Sometimes you’ll get DIY guides or tutorials for creating interesting items that you could turn into complementary products.
So are you getting the drift about how to do this? If not, I did a whole video explaining in greater detail how to find trending products to sell on Amazon.
A note about intellectual property
While some of these complementary product ideas can seem exciting to jump on, there is an important underlying issue I want to highlight.
Intellectual property infringement is a serious violation and constitutes unethical seller behavior. You can be issued with the dreaded “red flag warning” from Amazon, or even worse, get your account banned for IP infringement. Tread carefully when creating your complimentary items so you do not use another company’s trademarks, tag lines, or product design.
Respectfully and creatively stay within the overall theme, rather than just copying an existing product, and reap the rewards of a fast moving trend!
Getting your trending product off the ground
Timing is everything with trending products, so it’s critical to act quickly. If a product takes off, then it becomes crucial to keep up with the volume of orders. Hence the reason I let Amazon FBA take care of all my orders and customer service requests!
Try and stay within the same product type when creating items for a new trend. This will help get you to market faster, since you will already have contacts and experience ordering with a previous manufacturer or wholesaler.
For example, if you’ve created bubble bottles in the past to take advantage of a trend, then use this same product line for the next children’s trend. This small tip will save you a ton of time! It took me years to figure this out. Often times what’s so visible to one person may not be as visible to the next.
Consider sourcing domestically
Another tip for acting quickly is that you don’t always have to use overseas vendors. There are plenty of manufacturing companies in the United States that you can find through directories such as Maker’s Row, out of Brooklyn, New York.
There are also product specific US manufacturing companies that can be found with a simple Google search, such as YouBar, which manufactures custom protein bars.
Sourcing in your home country means there’s no language barrier constraints, and it also makes it a lot easier to visit the factory. But you’ve got to remember the price point. Most sellers, including myself, prefer to source outside of the US due to lower product costs.
As I write this, the trade war between the US and China is unfavorably increasing the cost of goods. Many Amazon sellers have started to source in India where labor costs continue to be relatively economical compared to the US.
No matter in which country you source, always make sure to negotiate a better price point once your sales and orders start picking up.
Outsource logistics and QA
Finding a profitable trending item helps secure your success in the marketplace, but it also involves being able to keep up with demand. The demand for trending items can often be overwhelming for sellers who fulfill orders themselves.
I use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) to take this limitation off my shoulders. The FBA program allows sellers to use Amazon’s own warehouses and supply chain process to handle your orders. They also handle customer service and returns, leaving you more time to work on other aspects of their business such as finding more products to sell.
Your own supplier or agent may be able to prepare products for FBA, otherwise there are specialist services who will do pre-shipment quality control then package and sticker your items.
How do you promote your trending products?
Finding a trend, creating a complementary product, and getting it to market quickly will take all your energy, persistence and creativity. While some of your new private label trendy products may initially take off, some may get stuck in the deep sea of Amazon. So what do you do?
Promote! Promote! Promote!
The Amazon of yesterday is not the same Amazon of today. Free organic Amazon traffic is no longer a given – even for trendy items. You will still need to give your product a boost to help push it to the top of the search results.
Some of this can be done by putting advertising dollars behind your product with Sponsored Products Ads. By identifying the best performing keywords for your product, you can quickly gain traction without giving away all your profits.
Also, If you have a Facebook page for your product, then make sure to promote your product to your audience by announcing your new product launch.
But most importantly, running outside traffic to your listing via sales funnels or YouTube influencers, can exponentially increase your sales.
Sales funnels and landing pages
Sales funnels are a sequence of events that push your audience to a final desired outcome. One way in which I ran traffic to one of my popular emoji-themed products on Amazon, was by combining the power of sales funnels with Instagram influencer marketing.
I created a sales funnel and landing page, similar to this one that I made to promote an olive oil brand:
A sign-up form on the page collects the potential customer’s email address, and I offered my popular emoji item for “free” as long as they paid for the shipping and handling. If they decided not to purchase directly from me on the order page, then I gave them a coupon to use on Amazon instead.
Most people prefer to buy on a trusted ecommerce site such as Amazon. With the added incentive of a coupon code, it was the extra sauce to drive more traffic to my trending Amazon product.
While this standalone method worked well to drive traffic and sales to my trending product, it worked 10x better with the backing of an Instagram influencer.
I simply offered my product for free to the influencer, and gave her one extra to give away to her audience. In return, I asked her to feature my product in her Instagram stories and include the link to my sales funnel.
It was a win-win for me as I was also able to generate virtually free traffic to my product and build a list of customers outside of Amazon.
Why I sell trending products on Amazon
I include trending products in my ecommerce portfolio because I can generally flip my investment capital much faster. This allows me to further accelerate and grow some of my niche product lines that I sell throughout the rest of the year.
Trending products already have a built in audience, so it’s a bit easier to get velocity on those items. That’s really the whole point!
When you hit a trending item at the right time, the results can be amazing!
This post was was originally published in September 2015, and has been completely revised and updated.