What Beyonce, Cowboy Core, and TikTok Can Teach Marketers & PR Professionals in 2024

By Jenna Guarneri, Founder of JMG Public Relations and author of ‘You Need PR’

If you feel like everywhere you go, people are repping the aesthetic of an old Western, you’re not alone.

Cowboy culture has inundated pop culture, appearing at the top of music streaming charts, gracing high-fashion runways, and dominating the silver screen.

On social media, especially Instagram and TikTok, people promote “Cowboy Core,” a resurgence of Western-inspired fashion elements in contemporary culture, blending traditional cowboy aesthetics with a modern touch.

Posts featuring the “Austin” line dance trend are soaring. Influencers, brands, and users continue to share photos, videos, and styling tips related to “Cowboy Core,” contributing to its visibility and influence. Meanwhile, hashtags such as #CowboyCore #Country and #WesternFashion have gained traction on social media, propelling a surge in real-world activities, including horseback riding, ranch vacations, and outdoor adventure sports.

The trend was supercharged when Beyonce’s latest album, “Cowboy Carter,” introduced her expansive fanbase and mainstream audiences to country music and cowboy culture. The album incorporated visuals featuring cowboy aesthetics, including cowboy hats, double denim, boots, and Western-inspired attire. Other artists, including Post Malone’s album “Austin,” invoked similar aesthetics, and Lana Del Rey announced at the Grammy’s that her next album would be a country album.

As often happens, sales follow closely behind cultural trends, and the impact on many brands was immediate and profound.

The “Coastal Cowgirl” aesthetic has increased Western-related fashion, propelling a 119 percent jump in denim shorts, a 64 percent rise in prairie skirts, and a 17 percent surge in Western-style belts. Searches for “women’s Levi’s jeans” have increased by 263 percent since the album was announced.

However, this isn’t just a specific sales story. It’s a reminder that public relations (PR) and marketing professionals must remain closely connected to culture, understanding that subtle shifts can significantly influence consumer behavior.

Put differently, cultural shifts and how consumers adapt them, infusing them into their lives, passions, and purchases, create opportunities to develop PR and marketing content that resonates with audiences.

Cowboy culture won’t remain in vogue forever, meaning the next cultural movement is already on the horizon. 

Here’s how to harness the next cultural shift for your brand’s benefit.

#1 Know Your Audience

Pop culture trends are crucial to the zeitgeist but don’t apply evenly to everyone.

Despite their broad popularity, many cultural moments are relatively niche, requiring PR professionals to understand their audience and make discerning decisions about content direction.

For example, the resurgence of the cowboy aesthetic doesn’t resonate with all demographics equally. Consequently, a fashion brand targeting a social media-saturated GenZ audience might effectively leverage this trend, while a brand targeting a more mature audience might find greater success by highlighting timeless classics or contemporary chic styles instead.

Know your audience and prioritize the cultural moments that matter most to them because resonance is what attracts and maintains their attention.

#2 Pay Attention to the Trends

PR and marketing are agile professions, but social media’s rise and influence have amplified this reality. That’s why highly effective teams notice and remain responsive to the latest trends influencing their audiences.

However, many PR professionals rely on luck rather than an intentional strategy for identifying, analyzing, and capitalizing on the latest trends. Rather than hoping to capture lightning in a bottle, PR and marketing professionals can:

  • Leverage trend monitoring tools: social media analytics, news aggregators, and systems can help identify trends before they fully saturate the mainstream.
  • Create a trend analysis framework: implement a system for generating and evaluating weekly or monthly trend reports.
  • Establish criteria for evaluating the relevance of potential trends: These movements are only beneficial if they address your particular target audience.
  • Develop a responsive content strategy: don’t let your careful planning and strategy initiative prevent you from responding to shifting sentiment or novel opportunities.

In other words, paying attention to the trends is a strategic content and product marketing strategy that PR and marketing teams should rely on for campaigns and ongoing client commitments.

#3 Adapt Brand Positioning and Content Development

Understanding the latest trends is helpful only if you’re willing and able to pivot your marketing and PR collateral accordingly.

Simply put, plan to adjust brand positioning to stay current and relevant.

This requires knowing the difference between a fleeting fad and a lasting trend worth investing time, investment, and product development.

At the same time, don’t be too cautious. When you identify a trend relevant to your audience, don’t be afraid to devote your creative capacity to creating marketing and PR collateral that embraces these changes and connects with your audience more effectively and authentically.

Create content and prioritize product design that resonates with your audience’s existing interests, bringing them back to the surface while exploring new interests and fads that enter the cultural conversation.

Always Create For Your Audience

Disruptive marketing and PR tactics that surprise and wow the audience can break through and be effective.

We are increasingly seeing that if you are aware of social media sentiment that matters and can be measured using social media tools and analytics, you need to be aware of what matters to your consumers and create content that aligns with other areas of their lives.

What cultural experiences are they living in their lives now, and how can you join them in their life experience?

Assess, monitor, and measure these trends and respond accordingly.

For PR and marketing professionals, understanding cultural shifts is an opportunity to create content your audience will resonate with. That’s a trend we can all get on board with.

About the Author

Jenna Guarneri is the author of the #1 best seller, ‘You Need PR’ and Founder and CEO of JMG Public Relations, an award-winning PR firm for innovators and their mission driven companies. Jenna counsels innovators changing the world with their B2B and B2C venture backed startup companies. She is known for delivering quality work while fostering meaningful relationships with her clients, team, and media contacts. Jenna is an authority with a proven track record on reputation management, media relations, and brand communication.

Jenna launched JMG Public Relations in 2015 to offer a unique blend of creative thinking, strategizing, and execution of public relations campaigns. Jenna has the privilege of working with clients in all industries, including real estate, media, business, entertainment, lifestyle, fitness, and more.