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Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes Hardcover – 5 Sep 2007

3.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 425 pages
  • Publisher: Twelve; First Edition edition (5 Sept. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446580961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446580960
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.4 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,785,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Mark Penn has a keen mind, and a fascinating sense of what makes America and the world tick, and you see it on every page of Microtrends.' -- Bill Gates

'Mark Penn has a remarkable gift for detecting patterns and identifying trends. The ideas in his book will help you see the world in a new way.' -- Bill Clinton

'read it for its dozens of social insights that could well be turned to profit.' -- Economist

'Microtrends is the perfect bible for the hidden sociological truths of modern times...Unrelentingly fascinating'
-- New York Times

'The Guru of Small Things' -- New York Times

'The Master of the Message' -- Time --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

Why the smallest groups have the biggest impact
In Microtrends, Mark Penn, one of the most respected and sought-after analysts in the world, articulates a new way of understanding how we live. He reveals the real trends wielding large influence on society today and tomorrow. In every case these are small patterns of behaviour involving as little as one percent of the population, yet they can transform a business, tip an election, or spark a movement. These are the microtrends.

Relying on some of the best data available, Penn identifies more than 70 microtrends in religion, leisure, politics, and family life that are changing our lives. Among them are how people are retiring by continuing to work, why the most influential millionaires are the most shy, how the new geeks are the most sociable people around, and how even some of the most basic trends are being overlooked - like how women are driving technology and how Dads are older than ever and spending more time with the kids than in the past.

People have never been more sophisticated, more individualistic, or more knowledgeable about the choices they make in their daily lives, yet little is done to find the logical patterns that underlie their choices. Mark Penn believes that you have to look at and interpret the data to know what is going on, and that conventional wisdom is almost always wrong. In Microtrends he shows how we can all become better trendspotters.

A groundbreaking book, Microtrends is an invaluable tool in the quest to better understand our world and a remarkable portrait of the 21st century, where the most important trends are the smallest ones. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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3.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Lametable. For a book that is primarily about data analysis the quality of analysis and explanatory graphics is shockingly low.

On example may serve to illustrate my point: a seven-fold increase in over-the-counter spend on pharmaceuticals, over forty years, is taken as evidence of a surge in self-medication; no mention is made of the role of inflation over the period - in fact, depending on the index used, a strong argument could be made for a real decrease in spend.

Most topics are accompanied by ink-intensive data-lite charts, plucked straight from the Excel Hall of Shame: page after page is wasted by plots of between two and four data points on a 50% grey background, often joined by meaningless straight lines. In most cases the data would be significantly better illustrated by a simple table.

Could do better.
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Format: Hardcover
A friend of mine used to tell me that what most attracted him to a nonfiction book was the opportunity to learn something that would make for good dinner table conversation. My friend would rate Microtrends at five stars for sure. I don't recall a book with so many factoids that highlight minor trends in society. Here are a few examples:

1. There are more Christian Zionists than Jewish ones.

2. One percent of young Californians want to grow up to be military snipers.

3. As a result of the crime crackdown, one of the fastest growing population segments is newly released ex-convicts.

4. Knitting is making a revival among young people.

5. Those who love technology are more outgoing than those who hate technology.

The book also has some international examples. One of my favorites is that 82 percent of men aged 18-30 in Italy live at home with their parents. I felt like calling my sons to congratulate them on having moved out.

Mark J. Penn and E. Kinney Zalesne argue that you can build political conclusions from looking at such small trends. It's a lot easier to switch an independent voter than to attract a first-time voter . . . or to switch a voter who is loyal to the other party. Be spot-on with an issue that creates excitement for a small group of swing voters, and you may carry an election. The book is filled with references to the 1996 role that Soccer Moms played in Bill Clinton's re-election.

Beyond that, this is a book of trivia. There's not much analysis of products or positions that such groups might like. There's also no attempt to tie these small trends back to these people being independent voters.

Mark J. Penn and E.
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Format: Hardcover
A friend of mine used to tell me that what most attracted him to a nonfiction book was the opportunity to learn something that would make for good dinner table conversation. My friend would rate Microtrends at five stars for sure. I don't recall a book with so many factoids that highlight minor trends in society. Here are a few examples:

1. There are more Christian Zionists than Jewish ones.

2. One percent of young Californians want to grow up to be military snipers.

3. As a result of the crime crackdown, one of the fastest growing population segments is newly released ex-convicts.

4. Knitting is making a revival among young people.

5. Those who love technology are more outgoing than those who hate technology.

The book also has some international examples. One of my favorites is that 82 percent of men aged 18-30 in Italy live at home with their parents. I felt like calling my sons to congratulate them on having moved out.

Mark J. Penn and E. Kinney Zalesne argue that you can build political conclusions from looking at such small trends. It's a lot easier to switch an independent voter than to attract a first-time voter . . . or to switch a voter who is loyal to the other party. Be spot-on with an issue that creates excitement for a small group of swing voters, and you may carry an election. The book is filled with references to the 1996 role that Soccer Moms played in Bill Clinton's re-election.

Beyond that, this is a book of trivia. There's not much analysis of products or positions that such groups might like. There's also no attempt to tie these small trends back to these people being independent voters.

Mark J. Penn and E.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
This book is relatively lightweight but nonetheless an intriguing read. The bulk of the book consists of 75 small chapters most of them four to five pages long each of which describes and speculates about social trends suggested by opinion poll results. The author's American English grated on me at times but the small chapters made it easily digestible. Trends discussed include:

* older first-time fathers,
* teenage entrepreneurs,
* race differences in obesity rates,
* the rise of knitting as a pastime,
* the growth of the non-profit sector

and many others.

Hard social research it isn't and few solid conclusions can be drawn, except perhaps with regard to what pollsters ask about. Numbers and percentages are tossed here and there with abandon and I suspect that the book would have many professional statisticians rolling on the floor laughing.

On the other hand this is, as another reviewer has said, a highly thought-provoking book and that alone stands much in its favour. Also, in providing a snapshot of poll results in the first decade of the 21st century, the book may well turn out to be a useful historical document a hundred years on. If the authors produced a revised edition every ten years, they might provide future historians with much to ponder.

I toyed with giving a 3-star rating. On the whole, though, it's worth 4 for being so facinating.
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