The definition of “hype”:

A fad. A clever marketing strategy which a product is advertised as the thing everyone must have, to the point where people begin to feel they need to consume it.

Hype usually works if done well. And there is nothing like the quickly approaching holiday season to remind us of both the prevalence and effectiveness of this time-honored marketing strategy.

A personal favorite—Christmas Ale by Great Lakes Brewing Company does hype well. People are clamoring for the brew every year that typically sells out long before its namesake holiday arrives. Shortages—and there always are—spark outrage. And every year, people in Northeast Ohio and surrounding areas are asking, “Where can I get some Christmas Ale?”

Another company that does hype well is Apple. Who even knew they wanted a gold iPhone? Practically out of stock at the onset of becoming available for sale, prices at some non-Apple retailers are approaching $1,000 for the device. Apple has long employed hype as a marketing strategy, and with messaging like “It’s not just what’s next, but what should be next.” Their cult-like following of customers just nod their heads and buy.

What makes hype work? Let’s take a look at the four components of successful hyping:
1. A good product/service. Attempts to hype up average to below-average products or services usually don’t work well. Once consumers find out the truth, well, the hype’s off.

2. A certain timeliness. A product or service that is available on an ongoing basis is not as special as one that is available for a short time.

3. Perceived benefit. Hype done well leaves the consumer feeling they must acquire a particular product or service because it will make their life better.

4. Exclusivity/limited quantities. No one wants to buy something everyone else already has. Creating a shortage is a surefire way to keep people wanting more.

All in all, hype done well can create demand generation that is unrivaled.

Be on the lookout for brands that successfully and unsuccessfully employ hype as a marketing strategy this holiday season. What brands do you think use hype effectively?