Concept and ideas seem to come in cycles; three movies about robots taking over the world hit the theaters within a week of each other, young-adult books about wizards from six different authors hit stores in the same month, four different wood-fire pizza places open in your town within days of each other, and every show on television is a police procedural about forensic science.
You can’t even blame people from copying the idea because there wasn’t time for someone to notice the idea and then come up with a knock-off concept because they just all seem to hit the market just days apart.
But then all of a sudden all of those things just drop off the radar.
The trendy pizza places close just weeks after they opened, the robot movies are gone and now super hero flicks are all the rage, and all the wizard books have been replaced by diaries about wimps and dorks, and the forensic cop shows have been canceled because the new season is all about lawyer shows.
Now fast-forward a few years like one of those time-lapse films of a flower blooming and dying on a science program…
The hottest summer movie is about a robot, a new wizard series is on the best-seller list, hipster pizza is back on the menu, and there are three new science-cop shows on Netflix.
There is a universal Idea Cycle that brings concepts back around to us like a giant ferris wheel at a carnival
Sometimes the ideas are on top and everyone seems to be doing it, and other times the ideas are on the bottom waiting to rotate back into position at the top once more.
There is no reliable way to predict just when an idea might rise in popularity again, because just like a ferris wheel, the speed and random pauses can vary with every rotation — but you can reliably count on some version of a past idea (if not the exact same version) coming back around again.
I grew up in the 70s when skateboards were something every kid wanted. In the 90s a slicker version of skateboards came out and people were competing in style and stunts at a level I wouldn’t have imagine in my younger days.
When I was a kid of 8 or 9 years old I remember the adults drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon beer from a can, and when I grew up it became all about the cool craft brews in bottles with well-designed labels, but I visited a tiki bar near Cleveland a few months ago and they were doing a “Dad’s Beer” promotion with specials on (you guessed it!) PBR, Budwesier, and other throwback beer brands. And those cool craft brews are ditching bottles for trendy “new” cans.
One of the hottest movies during my final year of high school was The Karate Kid.
What’s one of the hottest new hows on Netflix right now? A new series featuring many of the original Karate Kid actors in the exact same roles from almost 40 years ago.
Are you prepared to take advantage of the next Idea Cycle?
Are you making note of past trends, current trends, and recurring trends? What do you think the next turn of the wheel will bring? With the popularity of the Cobrai Kai series, I’d bet on at least three new series already in production that are going to follow this trend.
An idea I think is going to make a return are classic rock concert t-shirts.
If I were a t-shirt company I would look into getting rights to reproduce the original shirt designs from the 70s through the 80s (maybe the 90s). I know there are a few favorite concert tees I owned that hit the trash can long ago due to age and literal wear-and-tear” that I’d replace in a heartbeat.
Nostalgia plays a big part in the media rotating back into the top spots. People in their fifties and older are enjoying trips down memory lane with reboots of shows like Full House, new tv series starring Fran Drescher that they remember from The Nanny, and there is even a new version of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe coming to cable soon.
The wheel is going to come around again.
A cycle is going to repeat itself.
Will you rise to the top or get run over?