Time Magazine: Mark Penn on The Pessimism Index

By MARK PENN
Published June 30, 2011

Just 10 years into a new century, more than two-thirds of the country sees the past decade as a period of decline for the U.S., according to a new TIME/Aspen Ideas Festival poll that probed Americans on the decade since the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. Osama bin Laden is dead and al-Qaeda seriously weakened, but the impact of the 9/11 attacks and the decisions that followed have, in the view of most Americans, put the U.S. in a tailspin that the country has been unable to shake during two administrations and almost 10 years of trying.

The poll confirms that the country is going through one of its longest sustained periods of unhappiness and pessimism ever. Today’s teenagers hardly remember a time before 9/11, the war on terrorism, the war in Iraq and constant economic upheaval. Baby boomers, the generation known for continuous reinvention, are filled with worry and doubt about their future and the future of their children.

It is hard to overstate what a fundamental change this represents. A country long celebrated for its optimism amid adversity is having trouble finding the pluck and the spirit that have seen it through everything from world wars to nuclear threats to space races. The U.S. usually bounces back after a few years of difficulty, such as the Vietnam War, Watergate or recessions. After two or three years of anxiety and worry, the electorate normally returns to its innate optimism. Yet the forces now aligned against the American people seem much more formidable to those we surveyed; the poll uncovered the kinds of attitudes we saw among Europeans during the decade after World War II.

Read the full article at Time.com

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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Forbes: The Latest On Microtrends, an interview with Mark Penn, CEO of Burson-Marsteller

The Latest On Microtrends: An interview with Mark Penn, CEO of Burson-Marsteller

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.

Read the full article

DMA Point Magazine: The New American Shopper by Mark Penn: How Business Can Make the Most of the Current Economic Climate

DMA Point Magazine: The New American Shopper by Mark Penn

Read The New American Shopper by Mark Penn and Kinney Zalesne, featured in the Direct Marketing Association’s Point Magazine (Spring 2009)

iMedia Connection: Reach Consumers Who Friend Before They Spend (Microtrends)

iMedia Connection

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.”

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Mark Penn Participates in BusinessWeek’s 2009 Media Summit



Mark Penn participated in the summit’s panel entitled “Global Media and Advertising: The Transition – TV, Broadband, Mobile and Social Media,” alongside other communications industry leaders. Participants addressed the transformation of advertising in the face of digital media, with a view towards a more holistic understanding of what the next generation of the industry will look like.

Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: Laid-Off Lawyers and Other Professionals

Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
By MARK PENN with E. KINNEY ZALESNE
From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
Published March 2, 2009

With all the concern about America’s manufacturing sector losing jobs, it is easy to miss that the newest phenomenon is the wholesale loss of professional jobs, the very jobs that fueled America’s economic resurgence and political realignment over the last decade.

America has been losing manufacturing jobs for decades. The rest of the world has, too, including China, mostly because automation has made manufacturing more efficient. In the meantime, we have had huge growth in America’s professional class: engineers, software writers, lawyers, doctors — even licensed massage therapists.

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Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: Committed Cohabiters

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

With all the stimulus ready to go into more broadband, bigger tax cuts and infrastructure, some of America’s most expensive societal investments are also on the decline and in need of a bailout — getting married.

Marriage in America is on the rocks. People skirt the issue, talking about how career women delay marriage until it’s too late, or about how men marry younger the second time around. But the truth is, except for the highest-income Americans among us, fewer and fewer of us are getting married at all.

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Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: New Info Shoppers

Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
By MARK PENN with E. KINNEY ZALESNE
From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
Published January 8, 2009

With so much attention on psychological marketing these days — finding new ways to tap into people’s heads — perhaps the single most neglected trend out there is the move towards more hard-nosed information-based shopping and purchasing.

While elites were busy shoveling money into Madoff’s black box these past few years, strapped consumers have been poring over product spec sheets, third-party reviews and expert blog sites. This past holiday season they watched every dollar. A special kind of consumer has taken a major role in the marketplace — the new info shopper. These people just can’t buy anything unless they first look it up online and get the lowdown.

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Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: The Mattress Stuffers

Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
By MARK PENN with E. KINNEY ZALESNE
From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
Published December 10, 2008

As the financial crisis swept across the nation these past few months, one of the first microtrend groups to emerge is the New Mattress Stuffers — people who have lost their trust in the financial world, and are preparing for the next meltdown.

Just as 9/11 created a vast industry in building security, so the recession could create a big industry in personal financial security — a new kind of survival kit. New Mattress Stuffers don’t care about the 10% interest rate on GE preferred stock that Warren Buffett snapped up; they care about making it through if hard times get even worse. As a result, firms which can offer ironclad guarantees of safety will appeal to this new group. These are people who have lost their faith in the housing market, the stock market, their bank, their big corporate employer, their auto company, and their last president. What is left but themselves?

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