Are we being relevant? A look at how cultural trends affect merchandising.

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” – Coco Chanel

If you’re like a lot of people, you don’t spend much time thinking about cultural trends; they’re just something happening in the background as you go about your life. And if so, you may not even realize is just how much impact they have on you.

But stop for a second and think about the things you do every day. For example, how often did you send text messages 10 years ago? If you’re like most of us, you probably didn’t. Instead, texting gradually crept into your world until it became a new norm.

This type of thing happens all the time; cultural trends rise and are accepted almost without anyone noticing. To quote Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while you could miss it.”

So now that we know these things are happening, what does the future hold? And what does it mean for you? Let’s take a look at some of the newest cultural tends:

It’s not all about millennials

You’re probably tired of being beat over the head about millennials, about how they’re so influential and are driving new innovations. You’ll be happy to hear high fashion brands like Dolce & Gabbana have recognized the importance of older generations.

Part of this is demographics. Global birth rates are dropping and as people live longer, the US’s population is getting older. By 2030 we’ll have 72.1 million older persons, more than double the number in 2000.

Aging doesn’t mean what it used to, but what does this mean for you? For one thing, it means new opportunities for your brand, but only if you can effectively reach an aging population. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Don’t forget the tech – Older generations have taken to tech more than ever before. 68% of people 55 and older are using more than one tech device and 56% of people over 65 are on Facebook. Capitalize on this tech boom by giving Bluetooth speakers that can be paired to phones or a Dodo iWatch recharging stand.
  • Keep it fashionable – These are the generations that founded Nike and Apple. They’re also the biggest consumers of those two mega brands. Give them fashionable, high-quality items like Dolman Next Level t-shirts and they’ll reward you with their loyalty.

Gender roles have shifted.

In the old days, men went to work and women stayed home and raised the children. That’s just the way it was. But those days are gone. Paul Ryan’s recent job negotiations for Speaker of the House made work/life balance an issue for both genders.

And why not? Since 1986 the number of stay-at-home dads has doubled, and 70% of mothers with children under 18 are in the workforce.

To make an impression with this new dynamic, give promotional items that will delight the whole family like the Virtual Reality Viewer Form Hand Stand or a pizza making station with pizza stone. These gifts acknowledge to employees that family matters and encourages them to spend time together.

Women are more empowered than ever.

As women we’ve come a long way in the past 100 years. In fact, 29.3% of wives now earn more than their husbands, up from just 17.8% in 1987. And that number is on the rise. The global income of women is projected to be $18 trillion by 2018.

Make sure women know they are part of your team by offering women’s cut apparel at employee days or t-shirt giveaways. That way they’ll know they’re not only welcome at your company, but actually belong.

To learn even more about how cultural trends like these affect merchandising, be sure to check out the second part of my look into culture and fashion.


micahMicah Ary Owens is a Senior Corporate Merchandiser for Staples Promotional Products. She loves finding products that find a spot in people’s lives. That means quality, on-trend products with great decoration. Her passion is bringing style and fashion to promotional products, because that helps clients create a clear brand voice and make a strong emotional connection with their customers.