Microtrends

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About Microtrends

MicrotrendsBill Gates, Tony Blair and President Clinton are among those who have listened closely to Mark Penn. In Microtrends, you’ll understand why so many influential leaders have sought his counsel.

Penn with E. Kinney Zalesne argue that the biggest trends in America are the microtrends — the smaller trends that go unnoticed or even ignored. One percent of the nation, or 3 million people, can create new markets for a business, spark a social movement, or produce political change.

Microtrends takes the reader deep into the worlds of polling, targeting, and psychographic analysis, reaching tantalizing conclusions through lively analysis. Microtrends highlights everything from business and politics to leisure and relationships.

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    Mark Penn on Microtrends in Huntsville, Alabama [VIDEO]

    Mark Penn answered questions on the diversity of Microtrends that are impacting society in Huntsville, Alabama and in America at large.

    Watch the video at the Huntsville Newswire

    Mark Penn’s Microtrends wins WPP Atticus Award

    Penn Schoen Berland and Burson-Marsteller CEO Mark Penn has been named the winner of the Consumer Insights category in the 2010 Atticus Awards for his book Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes, PSB announced today.

    Open exclusively to professionals working in WPP companies, the annual Atticus Awards honor original published thinking in communications services. Winners receive a cash prize, and many recognized publications are reprinted or excerpted in WPP’s annual Atticus Journal, which will be released in November 2010.

    The Awards were judged by Simon Clift, consultant and former chief marketing officer at Unilever; Rik Kirkland, principal and director at McKinsey & Company, and Judie Lannon, editor of Market Leader. Other entrants in this year’s Consumer Insights category included publications from WPP agencies Millward Brown, MVI, and Mindshare.

    “I’m deeply honored that Microtrends has been recognized as one of the outstanding examples of WPP’s thought leadership from the last year,’ said Penn. “At Penn Schoen Berland and Burson-Marsteller, much of our work is predicated on the belief that companies must understand and respond appropriately to small shifts in behavior – as harbingers of tomorrow’s big shifts. We are gratified that WPP and the judges of the Atticus Awards have endorsed that perspective.”

    The Atticus Awards specifically recognized the paperback edition of Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes, by Mark Penn with E. Kinney Zalesne, published in June 2009 by Twelve.

    Download press release

    Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: Religious Independents: God Without the Religion by Mark Penn

    Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
    By MARK PENN with E. KINNEY ZALESNE
    From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
    Published December 17, 2009

    This is the season for traditions: chestnuts roasting on an open fire, carolers on the doorstep, and the endless argument about the secularization of Christmas. This isn’t the usual complaining about the toy and greeting card companies commercializing the holidays, but a much broader trend involving the secularization of religion around the country.

    We are still a nation whose coins say “In God We Trust,” where most witnesses in U.S. courts swear “so help me God,” and where our school kids pledge allegiance to “one nation, under God, indivisible.”

    But God, as we have traditionally known Him, is evolving for more and more worshippers. Belief in the God revered by most mainstream religions — a highly specific, paternalistic deity with an agreed-upon history and behaviors — is on the decline.

    According to the most recent American Religious Identification Survey, only 76% of Americans identify as Christians, down from 86% in 1990. But interestingly, while non-Christians are not choosing Islam or Judaism, neither are they choosing atheism. A poll done by Gallup in 2008 found that 15% of Americans – up from 8% in 1999– say they don’t believe in God, but they do believe in a “Higher Power” or “Universal Spirit.” More and more, Americans believe that the world was created by a spiritual being, but they reject the Torah, the Koran and the New Testament as the explanation for it.

    These universal-spirit worshippers, or what we call Religious Independents, are defining a secular Third Way in religion. They are like political independents who vote but refuse to affiliate with a party. Consequently, attendance at Christmas mass may be declining, but celebration of Christmas and the holidays remains as high as ever. Paradoxically, overall belief in a God is rising, while participation in organized religion is declining.

    Read the Full Article

    Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: The Unemployment Cushion by Mark Penn

    Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
    By MARK PENN with E. KINNEY ZALESNE
    From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
    Published November 18, 2009

    Unemployment has hit double digits in the U.S., and in some areas of the industrial Midwest, it is approaching 16%. Joblessness in many parts of this country is destructive beyond belief. The Federal Reserve Chairman said he sees little prospect of immediate relief.

    And yet, in other areas it is not nearly as bad as it could have been. One reason is that bringing home a paycheck, especially in upper-income households, is a shared responsibility today. That fact alone, in a recession, can provide a lot of families with a built-in backstop–an Unemployment Cushion–to the destitution that unemployment in a recession can cause.

    In the last 50 years, job growth has far outstripped population growth. As a result, today’s 10.2% unemployment rate leaves a far greater proportion of the population at work than in the past. In 1961, for example, when we hit 7.1% unemployment, the record for that period, only a third of Americans had jobs. Today, even with 10% unemployment, nearly half the country, or 138 million people, is still at work.

    Read the Full Article

    The Times (UK): Men: The Second Sex?

    Men: The Second Sex?
    It’s increasingly a woman’s world, as boys and men lose ground at school and at work. A chance to redefine manhood?

    …These days, outside top City circles, being a man does not signify first-class status. In much of modern life, maleness means coming second…

    …Mark Penn, the author of the influential book Microtrends, has highlighted the phenomenon of what he calls Guys Left Behind: “Sure, most leadership positions are still filled by men, and there are lots of super-achieving men out there,” he says. “But on the other end of the spectrum, serious problems are brewing for the future of men.” According to statistics, he says, men are 15 times more likely to go to prison, more likely to be obese, alcoholic, unemployed and die earlier.

    “When it comes to earning what you learn, guys aren’t learning what they need to — women are getting almost 60% of the college degrees conferred… This college gap could be the one that spells the most serious problem for guys, and over time can be at the root of a lot of increased frustration and even crime… The lifestyles and habits that worked so well for men in more dangerous times may not be working so well for them in the information age. In every age from the caves right on through the second world war, it worked for men to take big risks, have short attention spans and be driven by ego. These days, those things are more likely to get in the way of doing a good job.”…

    Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: On the Web, Amateurs Rivaling Professionals by Mark Penn

    Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
    By MARK PENN with E. KINNEY ZALESNE
    From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
    Published October 29, 2009

    This is the age of the amafessional, when amateurs are rivaling professionals in opportunity, talent and the ability to produce quality work. It’s happening in virtually every field. In areas ranging from communications to medicine to simply making things with your hands, amafessionals are gaining in numbers and the ability to market their services.

    Struggling amateurs used to want to become stars, and of course some still do, but this new phenomenon is different. Millions are participating just for the fun and challenge of it–-almost like running in a marathon. “Amafessionals” include both the amateur/professional hybrid and pajama professionals, who often work at home rather than the studio or the office.

    Read the Full Article

    Business Week: Pinning Down the New American Shopper by Mark Penn

    Business Week

    Pinning Down the New American Shopper
    It’s about information, value, and being green: Today’s discriminating consumers are careful about how they spend, and they’re concerned about the planet

    By Mark Penn and E. Kinney Zalesne

    The consumer that marketers have had a lot of fun selling to over the last few decades is disappearing. Those were the days—when a snappy jingle did the trick, a celebrity carried the day, and a higher price signaled higher quality.

    The old obsession with personality, emotion, and overarching experience is giving way to the green eyeshades of facts, research, and greater rationality. Not all consumers are changing, but enough are to start altering the way we market to and treat consumers. Originality and zaniness will still have their place, but marketers will have to deliver some cold, hard messages at the same time.

    Read Full Article

    Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: The Declining Soccer Mom by Mark Penn

    Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
    By MARK PENN with E. KINNEY ZALESNE
    From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
    Published October 7, 2009

    The soccer mom is in decline.

    Married, middle-class but working suburban moms whose primary concern is how to enrich their children while they are away at work are declining in numbers, in influence and even as a key swing vote.

    New preliminary 2008 census figures show that the percentage of households with their own kids under 18 has hit a record low of 30.7%. This is in sharp contrast to the situation in 1960, when nearly a majority (48.9%) of households had such children.

    This is indicative not just of a decline in soccer moms, but in kids and population growth in general. Women are marrying later, developing their careers more, and having fewer children.

    Read the Full Article

    Baltimore Jewish Times: Non-Jewish “Pro-Semites” Pepper JDate

    Baltimore Jewish Times

    Rima Adler had exchanged a couple of messages with a guy on JDate, but hadn’t yet read his profile. When she finally did, she saw something she wasn’t expecting—he wasn’t Jewish; it said so in capital letters.

    The 34-year-old District resident quickly wrote back to tell the man that she wasn’t interested in dating someone who wasn’t Jewish, and he told her he understood.

    Still, she was surprised. “I guess my assumption was that the reason to go there was because … everybody [would] be Jewish,” she said.

    Increasingly, that’s not necessarily the case at the Jewish online dating site.

    A new book, Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes, by Mark Penn with Kinney Zalesne, who both live in the District, states “nearly 11 percent” of JDate’s members are non-Jewish.

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    Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: Grandparents to the Rescue by Mark Penn

    Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
    By MARK PENN with E. KINNEY ZALESNE
    From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
    Published September 16, 2009

    Grandparents are stepping up, and the American family may never be the same.

    A few years ago, a key microtrend was the Working Retired — aging Americans who were so enjoying work and health that they either wouldn’t retire or were starting second careers altogether. One incidental effect was that grandparents weren’t around to help their adult children with the kids — putting a squeeze on those younger families, and giving a boost to daycare and nannies. New helicopter parents were increasingly reluctant to call upon their parents, and when they did their parents were often too busy or preoccupied.

    But now all that’s turning around with a new countertrend. While many are still working later and later, others are sharing the new family burdens of the economic crisis. With unemployment at nearly 10%, and layoffs increasing for both the young and the old, the terrain of intrafamily dynamics is shifting again. And while more togetherness can be complicated for many families, one group that’s coming out on top is the grandkids.

    Read the Full Article

    Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: Phoneless Homes by Mark Penn

    Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
    By MARK PENN with E. KINNEY ZALESNE
    From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
    Published September 9, 2009

    I took my daughter to college this week, and as I watched her set up her off-campus apartment along with her roommates, I had to return a call. So I asked “Where’s the phone?” In response, she held up her cellphone and said, “Ah dad — here it is.” There was no landline phone, and there wouldn’t be. She looked at me like I’d asked where the VCR was.

    She and her roommates were getting TV and the Internet, and between them they would have three cellphones. But while they would each have personal communications devices, her household of three adults was a microtrend that is quickly becoming a macrotrend — a phoneless home. The very idea of a “home phone” is becoming obsolete.

    Read the Full Article

    Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: Glamping: Its Time Is Coming by Mark Penn

    Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
    By MARK PENN with E. KINNEY ZALESNE
    From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
    Published August 23, 2009

    Europeans love touring churches and museums, but when it comes to vacations, Americans have always loved the great outdoors. Fishing, camping and just driving around are great American pastimes.

    But now, welcome to the early stages of the era of “glamping” — glamorous camping. It’s a visit to the outdoors, but updated and upscale. While it’s just starting to take off, it’s likely to grow significantly based on emerging travel and vacation trends.

    Read the Full Article

    Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: Boss Nation by Mark Penn

    Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
    By MARK PENN with E. KINNEY ZALESNE
    From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
    Published August 3, 2009

    It’s a common lament in America that we spend too much time working for “the man.” But these days, more and more of us are the man.

    According to the Census, more than 10 million Americans are self-employed, up from about 8 million in 1980. Even more telling, the number of “non-employer firms” — businesses with no payroll — recently topped 20 million, up from 15 million in the late 1990s. A lot of people with jobs also have businesses on the side they hope will become big enough to support them.

    And so the term “boss” today applies to a lot more of us than ever before.

    Read the Full Article

    The Leonard Lopate Show: Mark Penn discusses Microtrends, now available in paperback

    Mark Penn was on WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show discussing the ever-splintering subsets or “microtrends” that Americans identify with, including the new microtrends that have emerged since the financial downturn.

    Listen to the show below or at wnyc.org:

    Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: Lifestyle Inequality: The Habits of American Elites by Mark Penn

    Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
    By MARK PENN with E. KINNEY ZALESNE
    From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
    Published July 16, 2009

    There’s always been lots of talk in this country about income inequality, but very little about lifestyle disparities, differences which are pulling American elites farther and farther away from mainstream America.

    These disparities can be as profound as any class distinctions related directly to income; they go beyond having a bigger house, a nicer car or fancier vacations. America has always frowned on the idea of an “aristocracy,” but American elites today are increasingly creating their own separate world of activities, removed from the everyday pursuits of average Americans.

    Read the Full Article

    Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: Smartphoniacs: Addicts of the Information Age by Mark Penn

    Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
    By MARK PENN with E. KINNEY ZALESNE
    From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
    Published July 7, 2009

    Among everybody from our leaders to our teenagers, no habit is spreading faster than being connected 24/7 via a smart phone.

    Its penetration in the U.S. is estimated at 18%, and it seems that everywhere you turn, people are using their smart phones in new ways and in new places. Samsung recently estimated that it expects 500 million global smart-phone users by 2012. Actual phone calls are becoming extinct compared with handheld texts and email messages — whoever thought people would prefer typing to talking? But the evidence appears to say they do.

    This has also given rise to a group of people — the top 10% of smart-phone users — who just can’t stop. They are the smartphoniacs, the true addicts of the information age.

    Read the Full Article

    Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: Doomsayers by Mark Penn

    Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
    By MARK PENN with E. KINNEY ZALESNE
    From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
    Published June 17, 2009

    Doom and gloom are in, optimism is out.

    The fact that the stock market appears to have righted itself after the steep declines late last year seems out of step with the daily water-cooler talk about what is going to happen next. Fear about the future abounds, along with theories of how things could get worse. Behind these theories is the persistent (and perhaps correct) belief that there is another shoe to drop. Just as people start to get more comfortable, it is all going to come tumbling down again. While a few “doomsayers” were once the outliers among a widely optimistic populace, today there are millions of new pessimists talking up calamity and catastrophe as never before.

    In just a few short years, we have gone from President Clinton’s oft-repeated “the best is yet to come” to fears that the “the worst is yet to come.” Hope reigned through most of 2008, but fear does in 2009.

    Read the Full Article

    The New York Times Economix Blog: Mark Penn on ‘Guys Left Behind’

    Mark Penn on ‘Guys Left Behind’

    Mark Penn, the pollster and former adviser to Hillary and Bill Clinton, adds some good thoughts to a subject that has long interested us here at Economix. He writes in The Wall Street Journal:

    Sure, most leadership positions are still filled by men, and there are lots of super-achieving men out there. But on the other end of the spectrum, serious problems are brewing for the future of men. You see it in statistic after statistic. Some of these have been true for a long time — others are new and a growing part of the times. But while women have shown some dramatic improvements in health, education and income, men at the bottom end are facing problems that are as bad as ever — and in some areas getting worse….

    Mr. Penn cites a range of statistics, on employment, college graduation, alcoholism, drug use, heart disease, car accidents and life expectancy.

    The Times: Women are victors in ‘mancession’

    Women are victors in ‘mancession’
    Gender roles are being rewritten in America as men bear the brunt of job losses

    THE economic crisis is sweeping away men’s jobs at a faster rate than those of women in America, heralding the onset of a so-called “mancession”.

    New unemployment figures have revealed the biggest gap in jobless rates between men and women for more than half a century. The shifting pattern is redefining gender roles and challenging the status of men as family breadwinners.

    …Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist during her presidential election campaign, calls the new generation of men “guys left behind”. The ultra-wealthy multi-millionaires still tend to be men, but the pay gap is closing for people in their twenties. Men are also finding themselves in greater numbers at the bottom of the heap.

    “There is a statistically significant and growing group of guys who are just not going to make it,” Penn wrote in The Wall Street Journal last week.

    Men, he pointed out, are outstripping women in all the “downers” in life – there are more felons, more alcoholics, more drug addicts – and they generally die first. While Penn’s own patron, Clinton, failed to crack the White House glass ceiling, it was unthinkable for Barack Obama to appoint a male Supreme Court justice to replace David Souter – instead he went for Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic nominee…

    CNBC Reports: Mark Penn talks about the concerning trend, “Guys Left Behind”


    Mark Penn cites statistics that show the traits that worked for men for thousands of years – aggressiveness and risk-taking – are not working for them in the information age, causing men to fall behind women in life expectancy, education, and good health.

    Watch the video now at CNBC.

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