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human context circle
& our trends

Two decades of research
in one model

Our model is based on sociocultural trends, derived from academic and market research. A pool of almost unlimited knowledge on the human needs and changing behavior. But this research is hard to disclose, too much, too complex and not in context of marketing and branding. 
We’ve captured this research into one model to unlock it’s potential for brands. 
One model to capture where and how you can be relevant in the life of today’s consumer, today and in the future:

  • Providing actionable guidance for execution, now and in the future.
  • Ideal for activation: can be applied to all touchpoints.
  • Linking the what to the why.
  • Match today’s fast product & market trends to deep human needs.

3 trend categories

We make the most important sociocultural research transparent by distinguishing three trend categories. From these categories, we distil insights about changing needs and behaviour.
  • Societal trends
  • Generational trends
  • Gender trends

10 sociocultural trends

In each category, we identified the most impactful trends. These 10 trends offer the greatest opportunity to connect with the deep needs of your customers.

  • Trust – Complex society
  • Search for meaning – Visual culture
  • Generation Z – Millennials
  • Generation X – Babyboomers
  • Women – Men

30 key trend insights

Each trend is split up into three actionable trend insights providing you with 30 relevant & practical insights that you can use today.

90+ ready-to-apply strategies

The academic drivers of each key insight are turned into conclusions & basic strategies relevant for the organization at large.

People expect brands
to be relevant and
add meaning to their lives.

People expect brands to be relevant and add meaning to their lives.


Our Trendmodel identifies three main sociocultural trends: societal, gender, and generational. These trends offer insights into people’s behavior motivations. 

Despite the perceived rapid pace of trends, only a few structural sociocultural trends significantly shape our era, remaining relevant for many years. These long-term trends, drawn from multidisciplinary research fields like sociology and psychology, provide a solid foundation for a human-centric approach.

Sociocultural trends are closely linked to macro trends, large-scale movements beyond organizational influence. Similarly, product market trends, observable in daily life, demand reactions rather than proactive strategies.

Our trends are derived from global academic and media studies, providing a science-based human context applicable to all brands. We categorize them into societal, gender, and generational trends.


Societal trends, lasting at least five to ten years, explain behavior across generations and genders, shaped by societal changes like technological advancements and globalization. These include shifts in trust, complexities in society, the dominance of visual culture, and a growing search for meaning.


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.

Complex society

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.

Visual culture

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.


Gender trends highlight evolving behaviors, attitudes, and values among men and women. Men experience shifting perceptions of masculinity and increased involvement in household tasks, while women exert significant influence as consumers and agents of change.


With the popularity of the neologism ‘metrosexual’ in the early 2000s, 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 delve into the desires, needs, fears, and pleasures of specific birth cohorts. Baby boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z each exhibit distinct characteristics and preferences, influencing market dynamics and consumer behavior.

Babyboomers (56 – 74 years old)

Everybody knows the Babyboomers, born between 1946 and 1964. They are the largest generation alive in Europe – 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. 


Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist

Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist

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Kim Pillen


Before Kim Pillen started as a trend consultant at TrendsActive, she worked for four years as a creative strategist at Dept. For brands such as Philips,, Beiersdorf, JBL, and the Consumers’ Association, she built (online) campaign, brand, and social media strategies. After four years, she decided that she wanted to better understand people and society in order to advise brands more effectively. That’s how she ended up at TrendsActive. Here, she can do what she loves most: digging into people’s needs and then working with brands to see how and where they can be relevant and meaningful.

Douwe Knijff


Douwe is fascinated by how people work. With a background in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (Bachelor) and Psychology (Master) and an analytical mind he tries figure out how societal shifts manifest themselves through social culture and human behaviour.

Aljan De Boer

Keynote speaker

Aljan has been widely recognized as an inspiring professional speaker on the critical trends that will shape society in the decades to come. He works as the Head of Inspiration at TrendsActive, a trend consultancy from the Netherlands using social science to human-proof business decision for brands like

  • Disney
  • Vodafone
  • Hugo Boss
  • ASR
  • Rabobank

Next to his role at TrendsActive he is the Community Director at the Institute for Real Growth where he inspires and connects a global community of +400 CMOs.  

He has been on the board of the Dutch Platform of Innovative Marketing for almost a decade. Regular speaker and moderator for the Dutch Marketing Awards and 3 times winner of the best of MIE. 

Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist

Kees his purpose is to help ambitious leaders and brands to human-proof their business. In 2003 he founded TrendsActive, a trend consultancy enabling brands to become more human centric.

Kees consults global brands like

  • Disney
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • Asics
  • Discovery Channel
  • Swiss Life
  • Vodafone

and many more.

Next to being the founder of TrendsActive, he is also initiator of the first academic trend master for executives at the University of Utrecht and is initiator of various trend studies and white papers on subjects like trust, meaning, visual culture & generations.