October 22, 2013
Girls are doing it. Boys are doing it. They’re doing it at home, online and even in public parks. Grade schools are banning it. Weekends are built around it. Parents are condoning it and even dare I say encouraging it.
So what is this new pastime that is turning TVs off and turning kids on?
It’s the Rainbow Loom and it has grabbed the attention of kids around the globe.
If you’re not familiar with the Rainbow Loom, let me give you a little primer. Basically, it’s a plastic gadget that kids use to create bracelets, rings and other wearable trinkets using rubber bands.
According to a recent New York Times article, Rainbow Loom began when Cheong Choon Ng, a mechanical engineer, attempted to impress his two daughters, Teresa, now 15, and Michelle, now 12. One afternoon, the girls were making bracelets out of small rubber bands, and when Mr. Ng tried to join in, he found that his fingers were too big. He went to work and, with a little trial and error, created the Rainbow Loom.
Sounds “meh,” right? That’s what I thought when I first spotted my friend posting their kids’ creations online. But what started out as one dad’s quest to connect with his daughters despite his meaty fingers has led to a worldwide phenomenon, one that has people shaking their fists, saying “Why didn’t I think of that??!!!”
When I first heard of the trend, it reminded me of my friendship bracelet days. A product of the ’80s, I would spend hours on end creating friendship bracelets, barrettes, rings and shoelace pins that my friends and I would trade.
Like the Rainbow Loom, friendship bracelets were craft focused. Boys and girls donned the creations and eventually our school banned the bracelets from being traded on school grounds. But unlike the ’80s, kids these days don’t have to rely on Tiger Beat for new ideas. In fact, one of the main ways the Rainbow Loom has marketed itself is through online videos and how-to’s.
It’s become such a hit that the product has sparked a community of “kidprenuers” online. From organic how-to design videos on YouTube to online sales and offerings, kids are taking to the internet to build their personal Rainbow brands.
It’s a marketer’s dream and Rainbow Loom is doing it right by letting its brand ambassadors build and grow it to become what they want it to be. Rainbow Loom is not trying to control everything. They simply foster and facilitate the conversations, which in turn encourages the trend and offers just enough to keep Rainbow Loomers itching for more.
And if the wait lists and lines at Michaels and other craft stores are any indication, I think the Rainbow Loom will be around for years to come.
November 11, 2013