We distinguish three major sociocultural trends in our Trendmodel: societal, gender and generational trends.
Why sociocultural trends?
Because they unravel the motives behind people’s behavior.
We often hear that there are so many trends out there changing at such a high pace that is impossible to keep up. The truth is there are only a handful of structural sociocultural trends that shape the era in which we live. These trends change slowly and remain relevant for many year. Hence they provide a unique base for a human-centric approach. They are long-term trends, which last for years and have a solid credibility being extracted from collected research in a multidisciplinary scientific field (e.g. sociology, psychology, anthropology, media studies etc.).
Sociocultural trends have a strong relation with macro trends; the large, complex movements that are relevant but cannot be influenced by organisations or other entities. Macro trends require a reaction but never give an opportunity to be anticipated. The same is can be said for the other type of trend, the product market trend. These are the manifestations that are tangible/visible in the daily life, the products in the shop, also known as short-term movements. As an organization you have to deal with them, whether you want to or not. Usually, however, this is in the form of a reaction. They never provide a strategically created path to lead.
Our trends are derived from (global) academic – and media studies and hence provide us with a unique – science based – human context relevant for all brands. We distinguish three major sociocultural trends in our Trendmodel: societal, gender and generational.
These long term trends (that last at least five to ten years) explain why people behave the way they do. They are intergenerational – they go beyond generations and gender. Societal trends describe the effects of societal changes on the behavior of consumers. Some societal trends are caused by a single disruptive event (like 9/11), a person (like Putin) or technology (like the mobile phone). Other trends develop over the years like longing for the ‘real’ as more and more aspects of life become fake or artificial.
We live in a complex world. Consumers have concerns about global warming, overpopulation, terrorism, refugee migration, a financial recession and more. This uncertainty has profound social psychological effects that are changing consumer behavior – which has led to a growing public sentiment of distrust towards major institutions and big organizations. But don’t worry, there is more good news to this trend than one might think.
Society has become very complex over the last few decades. This can partly be attributed to major technological advancements, but also to globalization. The rise of the internet has been hugely beneficial for society, but it does come with its downsides. These include an overload of information, a greater perceived polarization and an abundance of choice.
Never before have people ever been surrounded by as many visual experiences as they are today. People’s lives have become increasingly saturated with screens, resulting in an explosion of visual images that people encounter every day. That means that it is hard for brands to capture potential customers’ attention and to stand out from the visual clutter. This trend explains how brands can gain people’s attention and how young generations are shaping today’s visual culture.
Search for meaning
Currently there is an important shift in human needs: the shift from the need for a happy life to the need for a meaningful life. Happiness is about pleasant moments and feeling good, whereas meaning is about doing well and getting the best out of yourself. There’s an important difference in the level of satisfaction between both concepts, which helps us to understand why more people are no longer only pursuing happiness, but also have the need to be meaningful. This trend explains where this shift is coming from and what people do to experience meaning.
Men and women are equal in front of the law in most countries but different in their (consumer) behavior, attitudes and values. The way men and women manifest themselves in society is evolving, and TrendsActive keeps a constant tab on these changes. TrendsActive’s gender trends are very useful for organizations that focus on gender specific products or services, or for people who simply would like to know about the differences between men and women. Moreover, while taking notice of the theory of things, you may learn something practical that is not only of use in a business plan.
With the popularity of the neologism ‘metrosexual’ in the early 2000’s, the world suddenly realized how far the feminization of the modern male had progressed. Many organizations jumped onto the metrosexual bandwagon, hoping for a successful ride into the 21st century. Classic gender roles are taking on new forms. Pressure in traditional masculinity is increasing, but at the same time men experience societal pressure to fit a certain expectation of what a man should be like. Men are more involved in running the daily operations of the household, and they are seriously coming into the limelight as consumers. Nonetheless, men are also starting to fight back to regain their space and their manliness. Now is the time to take an objective look at where the 21st century male stands.
The world is more feminine than ever. Although most world leaders in business and politics are still male, we know that women are the primary change-makers. As consumers they influence or decide on the majority of household spending. The role of women in society is evolving. Understanding their changing power position, multiple identities and conscious behavior is the key to success. For example: their increasing focus on ethical brands opens up opportunities for brands to innovate their products and services. Understand women of today and your brand has the chance to become a relevant partner in their life.
Generational trends highlight the deep desires, needs, fears and pleasures of a certain birth cohort. In turn, these human drivers influence the many choices we make in life. They can last from fifteen years up to a whole lifetime. Generations are formed by key disruptive events during the so-called formative years of a generation: the timeframe during which the members of the generation are between 10 and 25 years old.
Babyboomers (56 – 74 years old)
Everybody knows the Babyboomers, born between 1946 and 1964. They are the largest generation alive in Europa – and the wealthiest too. Babyboomers are very active and open to new experiences. These facts alone should make this generation the focus of many brands. In reality, most companies seem to focus only on the young. So, it’s not surprising that most Boomers still don’t feel understood and catered to by brands and organizations. Our Babyboomer insights will help you to unlock the Babyboom potential.
Generation X (40 – 55 years old)
Generation X is also called the “forgotten generation”. “Forgotten” because it seems as if few brands and organizations focus on the wishes and needs of this generation, born between 1965 and 1980. But forgetting about this generation also means missing out on a great opportunity. At this point in time, many X’ers are looking after their aging parents as well as their Generation Z children. This generation has a lot of influence on purchasing decisions because they are in the middle of doing so much. Also, Generation X is on the brink of taking over companies and politics from the ‘Boomers’. It’s about time that this generation is not being overlooked and fully understood…
Millennials (23 – 39 years old)
Millennials, born between 1981-1997, are also known as Generation Y. They are probably the most researched and discussed (and also ridiculed) generation. However, they are still not fully understood. That’s both a challenge and a problem. Because Millennials are an important target audience. Many of them have left their formative years behind them and they are ready to start families, boost their careers and face important life events. Being the now and the future, the Millennials are definitely worth knowing about.
Generation Z (5 – 22 years old)
Today’s teens, born between 1998 and 2015, are not the average “kids of these days”. They were born and are growing up during times of constant technological innovation, as well as lots of global political, environmental and societal changes. Z’ers learn and think differently and have other priorities in life than teens before them. This changing mentality is raising questions on how to approach the teenage consumer market in today’s highly fragmented digital universe and a future that is marked by uncertainty.