Author : Mark J. Penn with E. Kinney Zalesne

Release date : Sept., 2007

You pick up a book with a title like this and a back cover listing:

*”People are retiring but continuing to work.”

*”Teens are turning to knitting.”

*“Geeks are becoming the most sociable people around.” ….  You think: “Hey, this sounds just like my friend, Charlie…”

*”Women are driving technology.” …. and wonder, “I am…?”

*Dads are older than ever and spending more time with their kids than in the past.”

You flip to a page and soon become so engrossed in it that you don’t know you’re beginning to smile. Then you start to chuckle. Wait, you do know someone just like that—yourself! Before you know it,  you’ve chortled your way through a humorous chapter.   A lot of the details are plain hilarious!

Mark Penn just has a way with words. His wit lends a lot of levity to what easily could have been one of those tedious analytical tomes for intellectual heavyweights (just a nice euphemism for pedantic bores). He could write fiction and be a hit! He is just that funny.

But don’t let this lead you to thinking that this book is too breezy to be serious reading. Microtrends is a serious analysis. It’s a fascinating account of emerging social behaviors that are or will be powerful enough to influence how society will think, act, and be in the next several years. Penn writes:

“In fact, the whole idea that there are a few huge trends that determine how America and the world work is breaking down. There are no longer a couple of megaforces sweeping us all along. Instead, America and the world are being pulled apart by an intricate maze of choices, accumulating in “microtrends”—small, under-the-radar forces that can involve as little as 1 percent of the population, but which are powerfully shaping our society. It’s just not that small is the new big. It’s that in order to truly know what’s going on,…we need the equivalent of magnifying glasses and microscopes…polls, surveys, and statistics. They take a slice of the matter being studied and lay it open…and inside, you will find yourself, your friends, your clients, your customers, and your competition, clearer than you ever thought you might.”

Microtrends is really about “small ideas that can lead to large changes”. “A microtrend is an intense identity group, that is growing, which has needs and wants unmet by the current crop of companies, marketers, policymakers, and others who would influence society’s behavior.”

Although Penn’s focus is trending American society, he does go further to include similar global behavior. In a global economy, trends spread fast and could become international driving forces that may, in the future, upset or enhance established social norms around the world.

Who should read this book? Those who need to be one step ahead of competition have to watch and be aware of these growing groups whose unique requirements are changing the way things are.  But it would do most of us, “go with the flow” people, a lot of good to be enlightened. Let us not wake up one day and say, “What’s the world gotten into?” ; but say, “ “We’ve  known , we’ve read, and we’ve been watching.”

So, grab a copy. I guarantee an easy, fast read—a page-turner! For a non-fiction novel on sociology, that’s saying a lot! If only more analytical books were written like this, we would all be more “in the know”. Well, hey, maybe Penn just started a trend!

My Mark : Excellent

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