In the News
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.
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.”…
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.
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.
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:
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.
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…
Size matters. But perhaps not always the way we think it does. When politicians and marketers around the globe spend their resources trying to uncover the next big thing, they may be overlooking something even more valuable–the next “microtrend.” That term was coined by Mark J. Penn, chief executive officer of the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller and president of the polling firm Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, and author of the best-selling book Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes…
Forbes spoke with Penn to find out about what some of the next microtrends might be.
Forbes: What exactly is a microtrend?
Penn: A microtrend is a small–but growing and passionate–group of people that is changing the face of society. A microtrend may never grow larger than 3 million people, or roughly 1% of the U.S. population, but those people have unmet needs that they are passionate about. And 3 million passionate people are by far enough to make or break a business, tip an election or trigger social change. So if businesses, politicians and others who would move society want to be on the leading edge, they need to pay attention to these small, growing, counterintuitive groups.
Why should we care about something that represents just 1% of the population?
When you hit that 1%, you can drive a tremendous amount of change. The top-selling car in America makes only about 400,000 sales. If you sell a couple of hundred thousand books, you have a best-seller. Consider that only about 3 million people gave money to President Obama’s campaign. That demonstrates the enormous impact that a small group acting on its passions can have. And that’s just in the U.S. Think about what happens if you sell to 1% of the Chinese population. Or to 1% of India. In these mass societies, and in our globalizing economy generally, 1% of the marketplace is an enormous opportunity.
DMA Point Magazine: The New American Shopper by Mark Penn: How Business Can Make the Most of the Current Economic Climate
Read The New American Shopper by Mark Penn and Kinney Zalesne, featured in the Direct Marketing Association’s Point Magazine (Spring 2009)
Mark Penn discusses Microtrends and politics with fellow alumni and editors at the annual Harvard Crimson lunch
Mark Penn recalled his days at the Harvard Crimson newspaper, and spoke about current microtrends and macrotrends on the rise, including the increased confidence in the political process and the media’s transition from print to screen. In communication, Mark also noted the power of television events to drive online action and the increased coverage of personality and psyche over policies and issues. Mark also took questions from the audience about the 2008 election, the strategies of the current administration and the Republican leadership.
Listen to the podcast now at the Audio Pod Chronicles
The New Cool Kids: Part of a rising counterculture, smart, black teenagers are flexing their intelligence instead of hiding it
“…Perhaps riding on the rise of prominent post-civil rights black leaders including Obama, more and more black kids are stepping up the smart quotient with a new level of pride.
Those who track youth culture are taking notice of this segment of the millennial generation – the name for today’s youths who are raised to be confident and to believe they are special, and told they have the power to change their world. These observers characterize millennials as far more engaged than their Generation X predecessors.
Author E. Kinney Zalesne calls them “black super-achievers,” teens rising under the radar and shattering stereotypes.
When it comes to indicators of good citizenship – voting, volunteering, and religious participation – many black teens are succeeding, with little notice, said Zalesne, who co-authored “Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes.”
“The notion of achievement is [more ] deeply embedded in the African-American culture than most people give it credit for,” Zalesne said in a recent phone interview….
Reach Consumers Who Friend Before They Spend
Ever scoured the web for information about a brand of shampoo you’ve been considering using? Did customer reviews on Overstock or Amazon play a role in any of the purchases you made this past holiday season? Have you “Googled” a date’s name before, or after, going out with them? You may be a New Info Shopper if… (read doing your best Jeff Foxworthy) you answered yes to any of these questions. And, according to a recent online Wall Street Journal article, advertisers and marketers looking to improve their bottom line may want to start paying closer attention to the way you and your fellow NISs operate.
Finding, then seeing, is believing
E. Kinney Zalesne, who co-authored the WSJ.com article, along with the book Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes with Mark J. Penn, contends that this new breed of consumer primarily trusts information it finds on its own — not necessarily what you provide in your outreach. The Microtrends shopper’s survey conducted for the January 8 article found that 92 percent of those surveyed believed information they got on their own over information they got from a salesperson or clerk. And 78 percent of the respondents felt television ads don’t contain enough information to make a purchase decision.
“That’s really a profound shift in attitudes towards shopping,” says Zalesne, who attributes at least some of this shift to a decrease in the power of branding. “I think part of what we’re seeing in the New Info Shopper is that people are not as willing to rely on brand. And they’re not as willing to assume that a fancy name, or a popular name, will be the right product for them.”
Many assumed a “wait and see” stance these past few weeks as uncertainty continued to drive the markets and outlook for the PR firm business and beyond. Yet that holding pattern may shake out as businesses get a clearer bead on the future, precipitated in part by yesterday’s inauguration finally signaling a shift from promising to practicing change.
So what exactly does the future hold for the agency business under an Obama administration? What lessons can we—as a profession and as individual practitioners—learn from President Obama’s communications strategies, techniques and tactics? Where will policy and PR intersect in the year ahead—and what does it all mean to you and your day-to-day work?
For the answers, we checked with Mark Penn, whose domain is the nexus between PR and politics. Worldwide CEO of Burson-Marsteller and president of market research, polling and consulting firm Penn, Schoen and Berland, he has advised both Clintons, Tony Blair and Bill Gates. In 2007, he authored “Microtrends: The Small Forces behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes,” the paperback edition of which will be published in spring. Precipitating its release is Penn’s new “Microtrends” column, which runs regularly in the “Media and Marketing” section of WSJ.com and focuses on demographic trends in society, business and politics.
Here, Penn—who has been called the “Master of the Message” by Time magazine and the “Guru of Small Things” by The New York Times—gives us a sneak peak of his trend-spotting talents to help you navigate the months ahead, and shares his post-inaugural analysis of the new administration, its key communications challenges, and the year ahead for Corporate America and its agency partners.
Red Rodell is said to have responded to a reporter’s question about whether the Yale Law School faculty was “polarized” by proclaiming: “Of course not – they’re far too divided for that!”
In a nutshell, that’s also Mark Penn’s diagnosis of the American polity. He notes that the so-called Red/Blue divide is far weaker than generally supposed, but also points out that American society is, in fact, so splintered that dividing along Red and Blue lines makes it seem almost unified by comparison.
Penn, the Clinton pollster who “discovered” soccer moms and is chief strategist for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid, instead slices and dices the American polity into 75 “microtrends.”
Penn defines a microtrend as “an intense identity group [that] has needs and wants unmet by the current crop of companies, marketers, policymakers and others who would influence society’s behavior.” Most of Penn’s book consists of short descriptions of groups he considers particularly significant and unappreciated.
“…Interestingly, some folk are finally beginning to weigh in on the more rational approach to selling. Mark Penn, in a new book called Microtrends, makes the point that “the rational side of people is far more powerful in many areas of life than the purely emotional side.” He should know, as he is widely regarded as the most perceptive pollster in American politics. He is also the worldwide CEO of Burson-Marsteller, a very large PR firm…”
“…Mark Penn’s book Microtrends, a survey of emerging demographic and psychographic groups, includes a chapter on “Neglected Dads.” Penn charts the course of McDonald’s, which figured out early on that marketing directly to kids could increase the bottom line (not to mention those kids’ bottoms). But sometime in the mid 1990s, “moms started paying more attention to what their children ate.” That led to initiatives like 2004’s “McMom,” which includes an online newsletter with tips on parenting.
Yet at a recent company retreat, Penn pointed out to McDonald’s execs that since the 1970s, fathers have been spending more time with their kids. In fact, in 1997, dads living at home spent 65% as much time in the company of their progeny during the week as their mothers did, and 87% as much time on the weekends, per a University of Michigan study.
Penn continues: “This is serious father-child interaction time, say the researchers—which means meals. But where is the McDad initiative? Who’s targeting the volunteer coaches who need a place to take the kids after Saturday’s practice?”…
Like other businesses, politics these days is conducted less in person than on speaker phone and laptops. Campaign consultants, policy analysts, fund-raisers and bloggers do most of their work in the comfort of their own homes, or in their cars, or maybe at Starbucks. Political professionals have as a result become part of a much larger American movement. In his new book, “Microtrends,” the Democratic pollster Mark Penn notes that 4.2 million Americans now work exclusively from home (a nearly 100 percent increase from 1990), while some 20 million do it part time. Some of these workers are employees who telecommute to traditional offices, but most represent a kind of modern, untethered American work force.
“…In his new book, “Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes,” [Mark Penn] predicts a relaxing of attitudes about workplace love.
“Many more people of both sexes are at work now, and there are many more office romances happening,” says Penn, who calls the office “the 21st-century singles bar.”
In recognition of this, Penn suggests, companies are going to need to do more than turn a blind eye, or forbid intermingling.
“They have to recognize the fact that there are much more likely to be real relationships among people at the office, and adopt more detailed policies,” he says – addressing, say, whether a romance needs to be disclosed, and how to best handle a breakup…”
“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.”
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.
Survey Says: Geeks Are Cool
A forthcoming book by Mark J. Penn, the CEO of PR heavyweight Burson-Marsteller, proposes that – are you ready? – geeks are not antisocial losers.
According to his polling about social trends, which he
relates in Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes, the most enthusiastic technology users also love a good party and enjoy talking to other people.