My February 2008 newsletter from the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals featured an interview with Mark J. Penn, the CEO of Bur-Marsteller and president of Penn, Schoen & Berland. PSB provides market research and communications strategies for political figures, corporations and crisis situations.
Mark Penn was the man who identified “Soccer Moms” as a crucial constituency in President Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign. He is known for his ability to detect relatively small patterns of behavior in our culture that are wielding large influence on business, politics and our personal lives.
In his new book, “Microtrends: The small forces behind tomorrow’s big changes,” Mark Penn shows the most important trends in the world today are the smallest ones. The largest driver behind microtrends is personal choice, and how people adapt product usage to personal preference.
Another large driver is the power and influence of small groups. “In today’s mass societies, its takes only one percent of people making a dedicated choice–contrary to the mainstream’s choice–to create a movement that can change the world.”
Penn manages to unearth a few unforeseen gems. The New Luddites, more cynical and lonelier than their counterparts with a Facebook following, are much more numerous than imagined, and are striking back at technology “with their pens, legal pads, index cards and scraps of paper in pockets containing all their to-do lists.”