The Silicone Sponge Fad - A Lesson in User Retention & Beauty Trends

Posted by
Devon Bergman on 6/18/18 2:08 PM

Consumer analytics is complex. If you don’t know what to look for when monitoring social data, you can end up missing an opportunity or sinking money into a product on its way out. That’s what one of our Cosmetics clients might have ended up doing if we hadn’t been there to warn them away from a particularly popular fad. 

Silicone Sponge Rise

In early March 2017, mentions of silicone makeup sponges on social media were spiking. A prominent Cosmetics company came to us for insight on whether they should jump on board and come out with their own silicone sponge product. Despite the rise in popularity, we advised against it. We did so because we had determined, through the careful use of analytics, that this was an example of a market fad, and not a lasting trend.

What’s the difference between fads and trends?

These two terms may seem interchangeable, but they’re not. A fad is a spike in popularity that falls off after a limited amount of time (think the Pet Rock craze of the 1970’s). A trend is a sustained increase in interest over a long time-period, with the potential to continue influencing the market in the long-term. 

In our Consumer Analytics platform, we were easily able to see all of the Instagram post data to measure consumer engagement of the silicone makeup sponge product (Instagram data was chosen because a high volume of its user base is concerned with beauty trends). One facet of this measurement is user retention, or UR. UR reflects the number of people that are continuously talking about a certain product over a period of time.

Silicone Sponge User Retention

We found that consumer engagement had significantly dropped by the end of a three-month window, with UR plummeting after the initial April spike. This kind of a decline in UR is almost always a sign of a fad.

In addition to the drop-off in post mentions, we noted a lack of new users associated with the product, and advised our client not to put money into it. As it turned out, the decline in UR we saw may have been caused by design flaws in the product that couldn’t outweigh its novelty. 

If that company had not reviewed these critical consumer insights they might have decided to launch a silicone makeup sponge: investing time, money, and staff hours into a product destined to flop.


Social insights are something businesses can’t afford to overlook, especially in this age of influencer marketing. The Social Standards Consumer Analytics platform is capable of sifting through the noise of social data to find the meaning underneath. We measure UR, but also the deeper metric of market penetration, which tells us not just that a product is being mentioned, but in what context. We use these metrics to get a picture of how people feel about a product, and how likely they are to keep using it.

Feel free to drop us a line to learn how we can help you use social data to correctly gauge your market, and ride the wave of the next emerging trend.

Topics: social data, Fad, Trend, consumer analytics, trends, beauty

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