I think there's something to this. I was listening to a podcast/interview with Justin Derrico (he's a Les Paul player & shredder type who's played with Pink for well over 10 years and for The Voice) and he said that he's been having problems with getting guitars, etc lately....the guy is in front of huge numbers of people every show yet they worry about a few thousand dollars for a guitar?I think a big part of it is that Fender is doing a killer marketing job. If you watch the late night shows, most up and coming band are playing new fenders. Fender is sponsoring young artists, doing artist spotlights, making videos, sponsoring concerts and festivals.
I think it's more than just affordability and fads. Fender is trying to get younger artists,and more importantly female artists. Gibson has just been a mess for the last decade.