Forbes: America, Bit by Bit

September 21, 2007

America, Bit By Bit

Mark Penn’s author bio bluntly states he is “widely regarded as the most perceptive pollster in American politics.” Not the more common “one of the most,” but the quite unequivocal “the most.” When you invent the phrase “Soccer Mom” and it goes on to define a presidential election, modesty doesn’t come easy. Still, as CEO of the PR firm Burson-Marsteller, Penn is well-positioned to both influence and observe the American public. So it’s worth looking past the bluster.

In Microtrends, Penn identifies and quantifies 75 fads that can be defined by national polls, web surveys, personal and business acquaintances and the U.S. census. Most of Penn’s microtrends describe less than 1% of the population (the traditional threshold for getting marketers’ attention). Chapters on “Newly Released Ex-Cons,” “Late-Breaking Gays,” and “High School Moguls,” examine trends expressed by fewer than 3 million people in the world (.01% of the population).

Still, these are the little things that folks will wish they’d noticed–because Penn argues every microtrend he’s found is growing. Penn claims his microtrends can save or improve businesses, help entrepreneurs create new markets and swing elections.