The Times (UK): Sun-haters and Caffeine Crazies: powerbrokers in a small world?

Sun-haters and Caffeine Crazies: powerbrokers in a small world?
A book by Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist claims to identify small groups who can change the political world. The data he used was American, but even politicians over here are desperate for his research

Until this month, not many people knew that Viagra use was rising faster among men under 45 than among those over 45. Or that women in America buy more cars than men. Or that alcohol consumption has fallen faster over the past 40 years in France than anywhere else in the world.

Nor was it widely known that a million British couples live under separate roofs even though they claim to be in long-term monogamous relationships, or that fully 1 per cent of Californians aged 16 to 22 want to be snipers — trained killers in uniform — when they grow up.

Wall Street Journal: The Trend in Trends

The Trend in Trends: Experts try to predict the future without knowing the past. –

“Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes,” by Mark J. Penn, was published a couple of weeks ago. Its title reminds one of the 1982 best seller “Megatrends,” by John Naisbitt. Mr. Naisbitt also has a new book out, “Mind Set!” on how to interpret trends. The Internet search giant Google has recently decided to offer consumers the Google Trends Labs, which allows you to see how frequently topics you enter have been searched for by other Google users. A retail-industry think tank at the University of California, Riverside, has announced a new trend in trend-prediction: prediction markets, which will, it says, produce more prescient predictions about online sales trends.

Is there a trend here?

Mr. Penn, a pollster for Hillary Clinton, thinks so. He writes: “You can’t understand the world anymore only in terms of ‘megatrends,’ or universal experiences. In today’s splintered society, if you want to operate successfully, you have to understand the intense identity groups that are growing and moving, fast and furious in crisscrossing directions. That is microtrends.”

Forbes: America, Bit by Bit

America, Bit By Bit

Mark Penn’s author bio bluntly states he is “widely regarded as the most perceptive pollster in American politics.” Not the more common “one of the most,” but the quite unequivocal “the most.” When you invent the phrase “Soccer Mom” and it goes on to define a presidential election, modesty doesn’t come easy. Still, as CEO of the PR firm Burson-Marsteller, Penn is well-positioned to both influence and observe the American public. So it’s worth looking past the bluster.

In Microtrends, Penn identifies and quantifies 75 fads that can be defined by national polls, web surveys, personal and business acquaintances and the U.S. census. Most of Penn’s microtrends describe less than 1% of the population (the traditional threshold for getting marketers’ attention). Chapters on “Newly Released Ex-Cons,” “Late-Breaking Gays,” and “High School Moguls,” examine trends expressed by fewer than 3 million people in the world (.01% of the population).

Still, these are the little things that folks will wish they’d noticed–because Penn argues every microtrend he’s found is growing. Penn claims his microtrends can save or improve businesses, help entrepreneurs create new markets and swing elections.

Business Week: Name That Demographic

Business Week: Name That Demographic

Mark J. Penn still revels in the moment 11 years ago when he identified what became known as Soccer Moms. He was working with President Bill Clinton as a pollster at the time and looking for voters who had not yet made up their minds. Busy suburban working mothers may not have been a huge group in terms of raw numbers, but they were affluent and influential—at least in the political arena. Now Penn, currently worldwide CEO of public-relations firm Burson-Marsteller (WPP ) and chief adviser to the Presidential campaign of Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), has gone in search of other intriguing niche groups. The result is the delightful and fast-paced Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes.

New York Times: Why There’s Strength in Small Numbers

Why There’s Strength in Small Numbers

The human psyche finds something supremely reassuring about numbers. Just ask my 9-year-old son. His favorite prime-time television series is CBS’s “Numb3rs,” spelled with a digit in place of the third-to-last letter. The show features an F.B.I. agent and his math-genius brother solving crimes with the aid of formulas like Bacon’s Cipher and the Knapsack Algorithm.

“There’s no way the bad guys can win,” my son assures me each time we watch the show together. “They can’t do the math, Dad.”

Mark J. Penn and his co-author, E. Kinney Zalesne, profess a similarly deep-seated faith in the power of numbers in their new book, “Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes” (Twelve, 448 pages, $25.99). Mr. Penn, chief executive of Burson-Marsteller, is a longtime pollster who is chief political adviser to Hillary Rodham Clinton. He won fame for identifying “soccer moms” as a crucial constituency in President Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign.

Financial Times: Societies under the magnifying glass / Comment / Opinion – Societies under the magnifying glass

Margaret Mead, the anthropologist, once said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” It is a truism of modern politics that one person who feels strongly about something has far greater influence on what happens than the 10 people who mildly disagree.

In Microtrends, Mark Penn, one of the US’s foremost political consultants and architect of Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid, takes this axiom to imaginative new levels. Sometimes compared to Karl Rove, George W. Bush’s “boy genius”, whose brilliant microtargeting made all the difference in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, Penn comes from a more esoteric background.

Whereas Rove’s resumé is about winning elections for Republicans (again and again, until recently), Penn has offered his services to multinational corporations and foreign political parties, not all of them ideological bedfellows. Alongside Tony Blair, whose letter of thanks is proudly framed on Penn’s office wall, he has worked for Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia – hardly the Italian counterpart of Penn’s Democratic party.

Thus Penn is as much a business consultant as he is a political junkie – a symbiosis that helps explain why so much of his book is so original.

Bloomberg: Clinton Pollster Sees Future Filled With Snipers, Teen Knitters

Clinton Pollster Sees Future Filled With Snipers, Teen Knitters

The woman reading over my shoulder on the subway was clearly drawn to a chapter about Cougars, or “women who date younger men.”

“What’s the name of that book?” she suddenly demanded.

So I showed her: “Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes” by Mark J. Penn, the chief strategist for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

My fellow commuter told me she herself was a Cougar, age 50, dating a man of 34. She seemed delighted to be part of a certified trend.

Reuters: Small, offbeat trends can change the world

Small, offbeat trends can change the world

While Malcolm Gladwell’s “Tipping Point” explores how a trend emerges from obscurity to the mainstream, a new book says even small trends can have big effects.

College-educated nannies, home-schooled children, spouses who are together only at weekends and home-buyers with bad credit all have the potential to change society, according to “Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes” (Twelve, $29.99).

“By the time a trend hits 1 percent, it is ready to spawn a hit movie, best-selling book, or new political movement,” says author Mark Penn, who is credited with identifying soccer moms as a key to Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign and who is now an adviser to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

ABC News Nightline: Meet Clinton’s ‘Number Junkie’

Meet Clinton’s ‘Number Junkie’: Despite Influential Role in Clinton Campaign, ‘Microtrends’ Author Says He’s No Karl Rove

Mark Penn is a self-described numbers junkie who started out as a shy boy from the Bronx, N.Y. Penn’s shyness has actually become an asset — he wanted to discover what people were thinking without having to ask them.

Penn conducted his first poll at age 13. It was a poll about race relations in America, and the moment he sent it out, he said he realized, “Wow, I can find out what different people thought by sending out flyers and analyzing them, and being a different detective. & I always found it fascinating from this very first poll.”

He now polls on everything from the Iraq War to what television shows people watch (Republicans like “24,” he said. And for the last 10 years he has been the man that Bill and Hillary Clinton have enlisted to help them figure out what voters think.

American Public Media: Finding Big Meaning in Small Trends

Finding Big Meaning in Small Trends

In 1996, pollster Mark Penn highlighted what he thought was an important Democratic constituency: soccer moms. Now, he’s got a new book out. He tells Kai Ryssdal of a new trend — young people minding their knitting.