Just because a fund calls itself "contrarian" doesn't mean it's offering something all that different.
A contrarian strategy buys stocks when they are unpopular and sells when they come back in style. The funds themselves say they seek out stocks that have "fallen out of favor because of short-term, transitory factors," or are "underfollowed, underappreciated and undervalued."
It may come as a surprise, then, that if you invested $100 in the $10 billion Columbia Contrarian Core Fund, you'd be buying almost $4 in Apple stock, $3 in Microsoft stock and $1.30 in Alphabet shares. That's very close to what you'd be getting if you just bought the S&P 500 index.
Often, there is little contrarian about a fund aside from its name. Some of the biggest contrarian funds have popular holdings and daily movement highly correlated with the S&P 500. Returns this year appear to be a mixed bag, with the funds that don't rise and fall with stock indexes bringing exceptional gains even as bigger funds underperformed.