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.

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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.

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Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: Where Are the Republican Hybrid Buyers?

Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
By MARK PENN with E. KINNEY ZALESNE
From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
Published May 1, 2009

A closer look into the accelerating trend of buying hybrid vehicles

Unless you are willing to buy a windmill, the biggest green purchase out there is buying a hybrid car. Recently, the 1 millionth hybrid in the U.S. was sold, out of 135 million cars on the roads today.

That makes hybrid-buying a microtrend, and it is an accelerating one. While constituting less than 1% of all cars, hybrids represented approximately 2.5% of all new cars sold in March 2009 (21,000 of 858,000 cars sold). And it is up from 15,000 a month in March 2006 when overall car sales were a lot higher.

Hybrid buyers are far from typical car consumers. They also are far removed from the image of the budget-conscious motorist buying a hybrid to save some hard-earned scratch. I know one Prius owner who has two cars — a hybrid and a stretch limo — and carefully chooses which car to use, for an evening out or a trip to the mall.

Early hybrid buyers have been buying the cars less for their fuel efficiency than to make a statement about who they are. Just as owning a Mercedes used to scream luxury and refinement, so hybrids have been about forgoing luxury and making sacrifices to help save the planet. Sometimes that statement has been a sincere effort by environmentally concerned citizens who are spending more than they have to help us cut down on carbon emissions. Other times people buy hybrids just for the panache of it.

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Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: Green Workers

Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
By MARK PENN with E. KINNEY ZALESNE
From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
Published February 19, 2009

Presidents and politicians no longer talk about simply creating jobs — now they are creating “green jobs.” Just in the stimulus bill alone, there are said to be four million new green jobs. It’s a great term — it conjures up neatly dressed employees working under compact fluorescent lights, and factory workers in white and green helmets huddled over solar cells and wind turbines. These aren’t boring office jobs or repetitive manufacturing plant jobs — no, they’re socially useful and rewarding jobs. And they’ll save the planet, too.

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