Book Summary: Microtrends -Part I

While Alivin Toffler's Future Shock and John Nasbitt's Megatrends made predictions about the coming of the information age, the global economy and other sweeping changes that would change the world as we know it, the author of this book attempts to identify smaller more subtle changes that are extremely important but may skip the naked eye as they are barely visible. Personally I found the guy's view a bit too liberal.

The author, Penn claims that once a trend or behavior reaches a critical mass of a million it becomes a 'Microtrend' that a businessman or politician can use to his or her advantage. Penn has worked with Bill Gates in identifying growing needs and with the Clintons(yes, both of them )in identifying segments of the population to target for votes.

Penn claims that he was the first one to coin the term 'Soccer mom'. Some trends he identifies are obvious, some outright ridiculous, some that must be taken with a pinch of salt and the others are quite informative.
Here are some of them that I can remember:

Single Women by Choice: Straight women in our time outnumber straight men. This means that many women, unable to find Mr. right decide to be single by choice. Some even choose adopt children.

Online Dating: We all know this one, and can brainstorm a deluge of unmet needs for this segment.

Commuter Marriages: Many couples out of necessity or choice choose to live apart from each other but still can stay close to each other thanks to advances in technology. Many of their needs can be met by building for them support groups, virtual communites and so on. The author cities the Clintons as an example for this segment.

Left Handers: According to the author, the number of left handers are growing. The author makes a claim that this means more talents and creativity citing most recent Presidents, Alexamder, Napolean, Einstein, Connors and McEnroe as examples. Some of these micortrends must be taken with a pinch of salt

Amazons: Penn Claims that more women choose jobs that involve manual labor, previously reserved for their male counterparts.

Wordy Women: More women than ever before are choosing careers as jounalists, lawyers and other careers that involve verbal gymastics

Ultra Commuters: These are people who commute large distances back and forth to work. Penn compares them with speed readers. With such distances to cover, these commuters could learn Spanish in a week, listen to the Da Vinci code in a few days and so on. I know some of these claims are indeed true from personal experience.

Stay at Home workers: Most of us in technology are familiar with this trend.

Clergy Women: There are more women joining the church or going to Divinity school. Unfortunately according to Penn, surveys show that memberships of religious organizations fall when women take on leadership positions.

Pro Semitism: The author argues that jews are more and more accepted and even admired by the rest of America. According to him, that many non-jews visit popular jewish dating sites looking for mates.

Sun Haters: These are people who would like to have less of sunlight on themselves and their loved ones for fear of skin cancer. the future may see a lot of them lobby for legistaltion to force schools to make it compusory for children to wear clothing that protects them from the sun. Such laws already exist in Australia

Tolerance of Ethnic Diversity: This, according to me, seems to be a very obvious microtrend that was bound to happen

Latino Protestants: Mexicans who migrate legally or illegally to the US are mostly Catholic. But a growing number of them are turning Protestant.

Forty Winkers: Most Americans do not get the proverbial eight hours of sleep. While expecting a siesta as in Italy may be too much to wish for, many employers are opening up to the ideas of employees taking mid day naps.

Non-Retirees: With the average life span of Americans increasing in the last few decades, many contnue to work well past their retirement age.

Pet Parents: Almost 60% of households in the US have atleast one pet. Pets are treated far better in such households than humans are in the rest of the world.

Old New Dads: This is another growing trend. Men well past their forties are now having babies. Famous examples include Mick Jagger and Senator Strom Thurman.

Elite and the Regular Voters: Tha author makes a revelation here: he believes that contrary to popular belief, the elite look more for personality in their President while the commoners look more at the issues she stands for.

Swing is King: The 2004 election was determined by swing voters. The author suggests that more people than ever before make their choice of president at the last stages in an election.

Well educated nannies and Mannies: The author suggests that nannies are more educated today. More men are getting into the profession.

Knitting is growing as a hobby today even among the elite.

With video games and the like, becoming a sniper in the army is gaining popularily among today's youth.

Young entrepreneurs: Ebay has enabled the teeneagers of today to become successful entrpreneurs.

Millitant Illegal immigrants as a force to recon with: With 12 million of them in the US, and despite the fact that many of them cant vote, Politicians are beginning to see how they can affect the swing vote.

Black teen idols; There are more educated black youngsters in society today than ever before. They may well be regarded as tomorrow's role models.

Dads and dad's rights: With dads spending more time with their children than ever before, their needs are becoming more of a reality.

Christian Zionists: The support for Isreal in the US comes more from Christian zionists than from the jews in America.

Male CareGivers: This is a trend that is most popular among Asians. More men today take care of their aging parents than ever before.

Do It Yourself Doctors: Web sites like Web MD have made it more popular for people to self diagnose and use their doctors as ATMs that give out presciptions. Many patients have gained more knowledge of their ailments.

Late Out of Closeters and their Families: As we see more politicians and closet homosexuals come out of the closet today, the author sees a growing need for meeting their needs and the needs of their immediate families in handling the situation.

Water and Caffeine: While Americans on one hand are consuming more bottled water like Dasani , there is also a phenomenal rise in the consumption of Red Bull and the like.

Diets and Fast Foods: Paradoxically both are on the rise.The Japanese island of Okinawa bosts of the largest number on centenarians on the planet. Their secret seems to be less calorific intake. This revelation is seen as the fountain of eternity by many. Obesity is a well known groing 'microtrend' today that is forcing automakers, furniture makers and airlines to enlarge their servcie offerings. The needs in these segments is endless.

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