Cowboy Up! – Trending Toward the American Cowboy Persona

by Tara Trask | Consumer Insights on January 18, 2011

in L&S, Marketing, Public Relations, Quick Service Restaurants, Retail, Travel & Hospitality

True Grit, Country Strong, and Cowboys & Aliens are just three movies in 2011 that have taken Hollywood back to its western roots. Line dancing and Alan Jackson’s 2008 hit song, “Good Time” are being used in a new GE TV commercial. Even Wyoming Tourism is embracing its cowboy heritage by sponsoring a professional rodeo team. Is it just me or is country cool again?

These 2011 cowboy trends have people buzzing in all areas. Marian Salzman, a self-titled “trend-spotter” for CNN Opinion, thinks the “cowboy up” trend will be where employees and students are taught to be more “emotionally resilient”. The Geeky Hostess predicts that consumers will love the “chance to leave their tech toys behind and dream of simpler, dirtier days.” M.M. Cloutier predicts that restaurant culinary trends for 2011 will include simplicity/back to basics ideals.

Perhaps the reason for the trend is that Americans need that strong, resilient hero to ride in on his horse and bring back the heart and soul of the true American spirit. Bill O’Reilly said it best in his Jan. 4 column, “America could use another John Wayne today”.

In 1969, when the original version of “True Grit” was playing in the movie theaters, Americans were looking for heroes such as Wayne to show them nobility. Today there are far fewer heroes, and we don’t expect much nobility, even in the movies.

I liked both versions of “True Grit.” But for me, it was Wayne who still deserves most of the cheers. The man was larger than life, a symbol of the insurmountable American spirit.

Boy, do we need that today.

Catering to the cowboy lifestyle and western culture enthusiasts will garner success for retailers who take on this solid trend in 2011. It doesn’t have to be a huge sale on ten-gallon hats and gun holsters. But, going a step further and embracing the cowboy mentality. It is a prime market to get back the roots of true American values and culture. After all, there is a little cowboy in us all.

Happy trails!


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Roberts January 18, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I couldn’t agree more that the West and the cowboy way of life are making a huge comeback. Wyoming had the foresight to capitalize on the interest a few years back by sponsoring professional rodeo athelets and I’ve often wondered why South Dakota hasn’t done the same. After all, isn’t rodeo the state sport of SD? We’re missing an opportunity to have a select group of well rounded folks travel the country and talk about all the great things SD has to offer!

Jim Thompson January 18, 2011 at 4:29 pm

What holds us back is available funding and the fact that so much of our influence for cash at the state level is influenced by Sioux Falls. They don’t see rodeo as pertinent to the people they’re inviting to the state. What we need is to use Wyoming’s success in tourism at a logic level rather than the emotion level. We all understood that the Legislature named Rodeo as the official state sport. But that didn’t cost anything to do. That in itself isn’t a victory. What the tourism people need is evidence as to what brings visitors to our state. If rodeo and the western life style is the answer than we need to jump on that. Start amassing some evidence and then keep at the decision makers til we succeed. And the idea of cowboys wearing the patches, using the criteria from Wyoming, is a perfect walking billboard.

Sharon Richie January 18, 2011 at 5:57 pm

I agree with Jim. Maybe we should invite the SD legislature people from Sioux Falls to the PRCA rodeo held at Crystal Springs Rodeo each year out on the prairie. More people from Minnesota there than people from SD. Those Minnesota people make the small town of Clear Lake rock for a week. Dollars into the community. You bet!!! And far better for the family than another casino would in the Sioux Falls area.

Tiffany Trask January 18, 2011 at 10:43 pm

As a graduate student at the University of South Dakota among students from states like California, Idaho, North Carolina, and even just Nebraska, I’ve never had more people interested in my “American Cowboy” upbringing. I’ve had many conversations with these individuals about where they can go to get the true cowboy experience, whether it be just seeing a rodeo or actually getting on a horse. Some were even researching and watching the NFR this past December after learning that it existed. They see cowboys and the western way of life as a part of what this state embodies, just like Mount Rushmore or the Badlands; it’s a venture into South Dakota culture. I think that embracing how our state is viewed, especially when we’re linked to a hero as timeless as the American Cowboy, should be something our we could easily thrive on at a national level.

Sharon L. Baker January 22, 2011 at 1:08 am

Thank goodness there is still “a little cowboy in us all” or life these days might be worse off than it is. We need to cultivate that little cowboy in all of us, to become a whole lot of cowboy in all of us, and perhaps we will regain stronger morals, a more stable society, and new generations of citizens who will see truth for the clear cut decision it needs to be. We need the strong hero role models that came forward so clearly in our cowboy days, and cowboy ways, when right and wrong were more clearly defined, and less influenced by outside smoke screens. Right here, in middle America, we’ve never strayed from those clear cut cowboy ways. We need to find ways to showcase the clean, clear cut life style we’ve held on to for all of these years, and let that strength spread on out to warm the souls of those who assumed it to be lost. There are so many souls who need to find that strength, realize it is not lost, and feed and grow from it. Take a position and find strength yourself. Stand up for our timeless American Cowboy lifestyle, share it on down the road; it just might be the very fix this nation so desparately needs, just sitting there, right where it’s always been, waiting to be once again recognized.

Bill Pearson January 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm

ANYTHING we can do to preserve our “Western Heritage” is of value to the future of our country. For years, at our ranch we have held “Western Heritage Days” to teach the children the benefits of the American Cowboy lifestyle. Love God, family and Country, work hard and love your neighbor. There is an honor and code that the cowboy brings to the table. That code is what has helped make America what it is today.
I agree with Bill O’Rielly, we need another John Wayne. His CD “America, Why I Love Her” is always in my truck. It puts a lump in my throat and makes me proud to be an American – every time I hear his cowboy stories. That is why I end all of my messages with “God Bless America”. There are thousands of John Waynes in our country, they just are not as famous as John Wayne, lets get them recognized! “God Bless Our Cowboys”!

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