Are Canadians suckers for US trends?

Trends often pop up and seem to take over practically overnight.

The Internet and social media have opened up the world, and trends from the United States are often at the forefront. But experts say Canadian consumers and innovators can benefit from the influence.

We are becoming global consumers

Not only can we see what people are eating, drinking and wearing in other parts of the world with a few clicks online, we can find (and buy) whatever it is just as easily.

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    “The online landscape has removed the marketplace border that existed before,” Robert Burko, CEO of Elite Digital said.

    He says the “majority” of new trends originate in the U.S. but the Internet has opened up a host of new options for Canadian consumers.

    “I used to say, ‘U.S.A. trends, Canadian trends, American consumer, Canada consumer’ now…it’s just North American. The North American consumer, North American buying behaviour. It’s all blended to be the same.”

    Celebrities are a huge driver of trends, with social media providing a 24/7 window.

    “When you look at industries that are influenced by celebrity —; and a lot of them are —; I think you see most of that originating out of the U.S.”

    Kim Kardashian has been credited with changing the way ample curves are perceived; her little sister Kylie Jenner prompted a “lip challenge” (and doctors’ warnings) with her artificially enhanced lips.

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    The trends can influence how we act, what we wear, and even what we eat.

    “The cronut would be the perfect example,” said Dana McCauley, host of YouTube’s Food Trends TV. “A huge New York phenomenon that 15 years ago…probably would have stayed a New York thing.”

    The croissant-donut hybrid, invented by New York City pastry chef Dominique Ansel, set the Internet on fire —; and copycats popped up across North America.

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    “It just went whoosh —; if we hadn’t had the digital world that wouldn’t have happened,” said McCauley.

    She says the gourmet burger trend and “fair foods” such as deep fried butter are other examples of food trends making their way north.

    Being a copycat can have its benefits

    Innovators can cut out a lot of the guess work by taking something that’s popular and bringing it to a new market, or adding a unique twist.

    “There’s a big opportunity there…What’s happening in America? What worked, what didn’t? What seems to be taking off? Use that information, use that research to be the one that jumps on it in Canada,” Burko said.

    Then entrepreneurs can say “here’s our Canadian-ized version, that’s local to our marketplace.”

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    While the U.S. influence is “such a massive force,” Burko says Canadians can’t sell themselves short.

    “Canadian small business owners are smart, passionate, motivated…we are a breeding ground for great ideas and great trends. The reality is, just due to size, the American ideas often just shout louder than ours.”

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