January 27, 2008
Book Short: A Must Read
Every once in a while, I read a book and think, “This is an important book.” Microtrends, by Mark Penn, was just that kind of read. Penn is the CEO of one of our largest clients in the market research business as well as CEO of Burson Marstellar and, more notably, the Clintons’ pollster and strategy director for much of the last 16 years. He’s a smart guy, and more important than that, he’s awash in primary research data.
The premise of Microtrends is that America is no longer a melting pot, where lots of different people come together to try to be the same, but rather that it’s a big tent, where lots of small groups are now large enough to express their individuality powerfully. The book is also perfect for the ADD-afflicted among us, with 75 chapters each of about 4 pages in length describing one new “microtrend” or small faction of American identity. Penn not only describes the trend in a data-rich way but then goes on to postulate about the impact that trend will have on society at large and/or on the business opportunities that could come from serving those in the trend.
Just to give you a sample of the trends he covers: Sex-ratio singles (explaining why there really are more single women than men), Extreme commuters (we certainly have a couple of those at Return Path),
Pro-Semites vs. Christian Zionists (they sound the same but are completely different), Newly-released Ex-cons (hint – there are a ton of them), and the rise of Chinese artists.
Whether you’re interested in marketing, entrepreneurship (you’ll get loads of ideas here), investing (more loads of ideas), or just trends in American and global society, Microtrends is a must must must read. All 75 chapters were interesting to me, but even if you don’t love some…they’re only 4 pages each!