Book Report: Microtrends

For anyone doing business on the web, or off for that matter, and who has not yet read Mark Penn’s book Microtrends, then I suggest you get thee to a bookstore or the local library or get it on your Kindle or reader…however you might get it–get it.

A microtrend, according to Penn, is:

…an intense identity group that is on the rise, with needs and wants unmet by the current crop of companies, marketers, policymakers, and others who would influence society’s behavior.

Penn examines dozens of micro-targeted groups which he’s identified only after “piercing through stubborn conventional wisdom,” and looking beyond what he calls the “elites” and the “chattering journalists.” Some of the material is already a bit dated from its 2007 launch, but the author revised and updated since. And if you’re into following microtrends and the groups spawning them, Penn has a Microtrends blog with updated articles. Regardless, if nothing else the point of the book is that big trends are not those we, as business people, should be most concerned with…but instead, it is these hundreds of disparate splinter groups with the power to drive markets.

Penn points out pretty eloquently over and over and over again how few businesses, politicians, organizations, etc are really zeroing in on the right folks. For example, he makes the case throughout that women are some of the most influential in many of the micro-targeted groups across micro-trends! They are buying most of the new cars–though as Penn points out so much of the automobile advertising is still testosterone-soaked. They are responsible for casting well over half the votes in this country and that a rapidly growing number of these female voters  are Hispanic women, and how rare it is the politician that really identifies and appeals to this constituent.

Another takeaway: banish the notion that the masses are dumb or somehow easily led by the nose.

Almost every day, I hear experts say that voters and consumers are misguided scatterbrains…That’s why many commercials feature pointless stories with no relation to the products. Too often, candidates and marketers don’t believe the facts or the issues matter that much….If you use the right tools and look at the right facts, it turns out that the average Joe is pretty smart, ….People have never been more sophisticated, more individualistic, or more knowledgeable about the choices they make in their daily lives.

A really insightful read and dripping with concrete data and statistics–nothing anecdotal here. I think anyone who makes business and marketing decisions can reap a benefit.

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