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It’s easy to jump on the latest trends, but do you know when to exit the old ones?

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The tagline of this podcast is “The marketing trends that matter,” which means I’m usually looking forward at what is coming up.

But I read an interesting article in one of Wired’s sister publications, Details Magazine. The story is by David Amsden, and is called: ‘Introducing the First Dropper: Say so long to the Early Adopter. Today, the most influential guy in the room is the tastemaker who senses when a trend’s 15 minutes are up.’

He describes the First Dropper as someone that not only knows trends — whether it be a hot TV show, what jeans to wear, or the certain type of drink in the certain type of bar — but more importantly, he knows when these trends are overvalued.

Amsden says “Unlike most consumers, the First Dropper seems to be immune to peer pressure and the sway of marketing gurus; he’s propelled instead by an instinctual feel for when a trend has become overvalued. Think of him as a slyly influential arbiter of taste – one who operates as a covert counterweight to his better-known cousin, the Early Adopter.”

With the advent of worldwide blogs, tight social networks, and up to the millisecond trending on Twitter telling you what’s hot, it’s almost easy to be an early adopter. Is there anyone on the planet that does NOT know a month in advance when the latest iPod, iPhone, or Macbook is coming out?

Amsden makes it clear that you shouldn’t mistake the First Dropper with The Hater, who takes pride in never jumping on a new trend.

Don’t even mention your 65″ slimline 3D TV… you’ll get an earful that The Hater hasn’t even owned a TV since 1997.

Here are a few social media, tech, and pop culture items, and where I think they stand. In fact, it’s a little like Wired’s famous Wired/Tired/Expired feature.

Early adopter or safe to stay

Here are the items it’s still safe to jump on
(listen to the podcast for my reasoning on each)

– iPad, Kindle, and other eReaders
– Tumblr
– Twitter
– Facebook (Yes, even though I talked about a potential fall of Facebook)

Gone or ready to be dropped
– iPhone (see the great article by Wired Gadget Lab editor Dylan Tweney, talking about how he’d love a feature phone tethered with an iPad)
– Cable TV
– Untucked shirts and baggy hoodies (here’s a novel idea… why not grow up a bit, add some style, try some clothes that fit)
– Foursquare
– Cupcakes

What does this mean to marketers?

One prominent school of thought is to target these early adopters. After all, they’re dialed in, have influence over purchase decisions, and can help get your product on the radar. If you’ve used them successfully, congratulations.

However, better keep your eyes out for the First Dropper. Because if they start abandoning your product, that could be the sign of things to come.

I have to run, I only have one cupcake left, and I want to tweet about it from my iPad.

You can follow me on twitter at @hopkinsonreport

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