Microtrends by Mark Penn and Kinney Zalesne is a must read for all of us interested in how the world is changing, counterintuitive facts and consumer behavior. Penn and Zalesne have detected 75 "microtrends" through statistics analysis. A Microtrend is defined as "an identity group, that is growing, which has needs and wants unmet by the current companies, marketers, policymakers".
These trends underline the fact that individuality is becoming the frame and model of how we're shaping our lives. As they write, we're moving from a Ford model (standard for everybody) to a Starbucks model where anyone can chose from an infinite combination of choices.
With 1% of the US population, a group can be named as a trend. What's interesting is the fast growth of these radical change in the society. We still have to determine the famous Tipping point as noted by Malcolm Gladwell when an idea, trend or social behavior gets a point of non return and spread of like wildfire.
Some of the relevant trends described in the book are (figures are to be considered for the US):
- Sex ratio singles or for the first time there are more single women than ever who do not look for marriage : 50 million when in the same time the Cougars (women dating younger men) are rising : 3 million couples where man is 6 years younger
- Commuter couples : 3,5 million couples living apart for reasons other than separation meanwhile you have the Extreme commuters who are traveling at least 90 minutes each way to go to work (3,4M). In the same time you find 4,2M of people working at home !
- Interesting also the rise of Do It Yourself Doctor, people who research, diagnose and (try to) cure themselves with the use of internet. Perhaps the effect of the huge number of persons killed by Hospital errors (between 44 000 and 98 000 estimated it's more than car accidents or breasts cancer !) see Institute of Medecine. Alarming the fact that 30M of Americans are suffering from hearing loss (too much Ipod ?)
- Pets parents are 63% of US citizens, much more than children parents !
- Over 7 M of people (1 on 31 adults) in in prison, jailed or under criminal court jurisdiction. It's 650 000 people released from jail every year (and 2/3 will be arrested again and half will be back in jail...). It makes 2M of children with a parent in prison.
- Anyone could have guessed that 1 adult on 4 have a tatoo (30M) and 1 over 3 aged 25-29 ?
- Most popular leisure in the US ?
Basketball ? Football ? Golf ?
Nope, just Internet pornography, watched by 40M people, more than 10 times the people watching baseball on TV.
Much more than stats, the authors are analysing the trends and the consequences on daily life. Written in a lively style, the book is much recommended to better understand what's going on !