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Even in our present era of 10,000 niches, mass customization, and the “long tail”—of companies selling fewer items from a far vaster inventory—we are, arguably, governed more than ever by what’s popular. Thanks to the Internet’s ability to rank everything, one can dwell almost exclusively in the world of trending Twitter topics, of top-reviewed restaurants, of Amazon.com bestselling books, of the cutest cute-cat YouTube videos. News sites all feature tallies of the Most Read, Most E-mailed, and Most Commented On articles—creating a self- reinforcing conversation.
Is all this popularity data enriching us, or does it obscure new paths of discovery? Are crowds wise, or do they follow the pack and middle-of-the-road? A deep dive into what’s totally beast, right now—not just the bestselling, but the fastest-selling; not merely the market leaders, but the ones gaining the most market share—proves that while there’s no accounting for taste, the data can be helpful and even inspiring. It highlights huge, wealth-creating opportunities as well as under-appreciated ways that cash flows to the sublime.
Each entry in this survey represents either a market leader or the person, product, or trend that experienced the greatest commercial growth or surge in popularity during 2010, or between last year and this one. We plotted the entries based on a relevant number along a scale beginning at 0 and running to 14,594,874,110,347. Some figures are literal (Nordstrom’s revenue, $9.7 billion), others symbolic (the rpms of the top-selling turntable, 33⅓).
Length of LMFAO's Party Rock Anthem
Nielsen rating among adults 18 to 49
Alcohol percentage, Barefoot Cellars' moscato
Shows about misbehaving wives
Total Grand Slam titles
Grams of sugar
Days it takes to manufacture one bulk order of shirts (Yes, really)
Miles before your battery dies
Movies they've appeared in
Dollars per day to skinny
These five have 109 years of teaching experience
Typical minutes' wait on final weekend
2010 sales of $218 Flea ukuleles were up 25 percent
Tweets per second
Percent total return of Microsoft shares since 1986 IPO
MSRP of a Volvo S60R, ride of dreamboat Twilight bloodsucker Edward Cullen
Congregation of Lakewood Church in Houston
Per hour gross sales in dollars on Etsy, Jan. 1-June 30
Number of Honda Accords stolen in 2010 in the U.S.
Fake tans created in May 2011 by VersaSpa machines
Fads from around the world
Messages sent between the users of the Moshi Monsters website
Servings of Coca-Cola consumed every day
2011 sales from Amazon's Kindle e-reader
Nordstrom's 2010 revenue was a record
Approximate number of Oreo cookies consumed each year worldwide
Global sales, Nestlé Purina PetCare, 2010
Apple AppStore downloads so far
Approximate number of neurons in the human brain
National debt as of 4:34p.m. 59 secs, EDT Aug. 10, 2011