Sociocultural trends

We believe all businesses start with understanding people. Trendsactive’s sociocultural trends are essential for building a business strategy as these are long-term trends and not short-lived hypes that come and go. Our insights unlock creativity and serve as a source for innovation.

At TrendsActive we are 100% focused on understanding people’s behavior and changing needs. For more than a decade we have been keeping tabs on the world’s best research. We filter all information and condense it into easy everyday language. 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 years. That is why sociocultural trends should be the strategic foundation for all companies that work with people. We distinguish three major sociocultural trends: gender trends, generation trends and societal trends. They form the foundation of our human-centric approach of trends.

Gender trends

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. 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. The metrosexual craze has passed it is 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 happiness and health opens up opportunities for brands to innovate their products and services.

Generation trends

Generation trends highlight the deep desires, needs, fears and pleasures of a certain birth cohort, which further influence the way many choices in life are based on. 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.

Baby Boomers

Everybody knows the Babyboomers. They are the biggest generation cohort with the greatest wealth of any generation. In contrast to the generations before them, they like to spend their money. They are very active and open to new experiences. These facts alone should make this generation the focus of many companies. 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. This lecture presents the tools to unlock the Babyboom potential.

Generation X

The so-called ‘forgotten generation’ is treated true to their name: they are literally forgotten. Few brands focus on the wishes and needs of this generation born between 1965 and 1980. Gen-X-ers’ cynical behavior seems like a good reason to ignore this generation, since they are the least approachable of all. But this also means missing out on a great opportunity, as Gen-X-ers are the parents of Generation Z. Therefore, they have more influence on spending behavior than companies may realize. Also, Gen-X is on the brink of taking over companies and politics from the ‘Boomers’.


Millennials, born between 1981 and 1997, are optimists. They are very different from their predecessors – Gen X – who have a more skeptical outlook on life. The Millennial generation is a very important cohort, as they were the first generation to grow up after the Cold War. The new world order with an explosion of new technology, media, products and marketing had a great impact on Millennial behavior. Being the now and the future, the Millennials are definitely worth knowing about.

Generation Z

Today’s teens, born after 1997, are not the average “kids of these days”. GenZ-ers are growing up surrounded by technological innovations such as mobile internet, smartphones and apps like Snapchat. As teens do, they care heavily about their appearances, but nowadays this is shown by the high importance they place on striking a fine balance between having an online presence and keeping privacy secure. They 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 lucrative teenage consumer market in today’s highly fragmented mobile social universe and a future that is marked by uncertainty.

Societal trends

These long term trends (that last at least two to five 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.

Lack of Trust

We live in a complex world. While we are slowly climbing out of a recession, consumers also have concerns about global warming, overpopulation, terrorism, refugee migration and more. This uncertainty has profound social psychological effects that are changing consumer behavior – there is a growing public sentiment of distrust towards major institutions and big organization. But don’t worry, there is more good news to this trend than one might think.

Visual Culture

We are in the middle of the rise of a new visual culture, created by the youngest generations. Millenials and Gen-Z-ers are growing up surrounded by an abundance of images. These generations think visual and learn in images. But it doesn’t end here; the older generations are also affected by this growing emphasis on visual information. This trend explains how this visual culture was created and what it looks like for all involved.

Connected Society

The digitalization that has taken place over the past fifteen years has fundamentally changed society. Everybody and everything is connected. Connected society is about people connecting with each other, with products, with services and with organizations. It also describes what consumers expect from this constant connectivity and the Internet of Things.

Quest for Happiness

The holistic approach in pursuing health and happiness explains the latest developments in physical and mental well-being in the 2010’s. Health, wellness and happiness are converging into total well-being. More and more people are trying to slow down their lives in a world where most things are going faster than ever. People around the world are demanding quality of life and a healthy work-life balance.

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