Assessing Four Trends in Cultural Dynamics in 2016

Culture segments consumers, countries and companies in many ways, therefore making it difficult to speak about any single, definitive “culture”. Two people in the same country may unite under similar nationalistic tendencies, and yet align more closely with other people spread across the world in terms of religious preferences, lifestyle choices or values.

Given this context, it’s impossible to quickly grasp the impact of any particular culture. Some individuals may even spend their entire career studying a minor part of a culture. However, it is important to consider cultural influences when doing market research, so this article will briefly explore a handful of cultural trends that are impacting consumer markets in 2016.

Sports

While sports may not fall under the traditional definition of “culture,” the dedication that fans put into their teams and the influence those teams have has given sports their own place in modern culture. Additionally, sports culture is something that has a deep impact on consumer markets as sporting events have proven to shift demand for products indirectly related to the sport itself, as seen in the graph and analysis below.  For more insights you can read Euromonitor International’s free strategy briefing on sports fandom.

Diversity

While not a cultural element itself, diversity across cultures will continue to grow in developed markets around the world thanks to continued migration, international travel and foreign study. The constant exposure to new ideas means that mainstream brands will have to appeal to a wider audience base to stay relevant. The importance of these types of consumers cannot be understated, as 232 million people currently live outside their country of origin. Additionally, ethnic minorities in developed markets typically have youthful populations who will become important consumers. For example, the Hispanic population in the U.S. will play a major role in purchasing decisions as they grow older and brands will need to appeal to them.

Halal

While all religious beliefs influence a practitioner’s cultural, Islam in particular has had a large impact on consumer markets. The worldwide Islamic product market is worth more than $2 trillion and Muslim consumers are expected to reach 26% of the global population by 2030. Market shifts can be seen in the US and Western Europe in industries such as food where poultry and lamb/mutton/goat saw the fastest growth within the fresh meat market from 2008-2013 as they are staples within the growing Islamic community. With such a large Muslim population and unique demands for halal products, it is imperative that brands learn more about popular religions and religious beliefs. Euromonitor International has a white paper on the halal market that can provide more insights.

Climate Consciousness

While attitudes toward the environment may not seem like a something that directly relates to culture, there are significant ways that someone’s view of the environment can impact their consumer and cultural attitudes, and vice versa. One example of the latter is highlighted in “Cycling Culture Emerging in Russian Cities,” by analyst Fransu Vytautas Razvadauskas. Cycling, which was once seen as a trademark of Dutch and Danish cities has spread east and is quickly increasing in popularity. However, even though it is more environmentally friendly and often part of a good urban plan, some cities such as St. Petersburg and Moscow have seen slower adoption because of a cultural view that associates bicycles with a poor lifestyle.

Each of the above aspects of culture will apply differently depending on the consumer, and these are only four of many cultural factors active in consumers’ lives today. This means that there are countless permutations of what cultural influences may shape an individual or group’s purchasing decision, making it critical to stay abreast of these issues and others. Utilising market research as a resource can help students understand and help businesses make stronger strategic decisions when branding or marketing their products.