One benefit of holidays is the ability to get through some books and I took Mark Penn’s Microtrends to the beach with me (sad but true). Verdict: an absolute ‘must read’ text. The basic thesis is a reiteration of what I was always taught was the first law of marketing; ‘segment your target audience’; but made relevant for today’s world. Penn claims that the ideas and forces that are shaping our societies are myriad and surprisingly small. In fact, he gives example after example of groups that represent as little as 1% of the population who, because they can now find each other and can act together (largely due to the effect of the internet and social media I would suggest), have a disproportionate impact not only on their own lives, but on the lives of the rest of us. His nearly 80 categories range from Office Romancers, to Impressionable Elites, to Vegan Children, to Old New Dads, to Archery Moms and whilst being largely drawn from his research in the US, have some global resonance too. But for me the point is not the specific categories (these will change and develop and will be different in each market), but that very small groups are powerful because on a given topic they can be massively vocal and influential. He’s much more convincing on the political sections than on consumer lifestyles and brings the very useful detachment of a data-driven pollster to issues that are often emotionally driven. Penn is the current Global CEO of Burson-Marsteller , a firm I once worked at and still have affection for, and so with this calibre of intellectual leadership, perhaps the venerable old shop is wheezing back into life.
[tags] Mark Penn, Burson-Marsteller [/tags]