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Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes Hardcover – September 5, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0446580960 ISBN-10: 0446580961 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 425 pages
  • Publisher: Twelve; First Edition edition (September 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446580961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446580960
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #267,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From "Soccer Moms," the legendary swing voters of the mid-1990s, to "Late-Breaking Gays" such as former Gov. Games McGreevey (out at age 47), Burson-Marsteller CEO (and campaign adviser to Sen. Hillary Clinton) Penn delves into the ever-splintering societal subsets with which Americans are increasingly identifying, and what they mean. For instance, because of "Extreme Commuters," people who travel more than 90 minutes each way to work, carmakers must come up with ever more luxury seat features, and "fast food restaurants are coming out with whole meals that fit in cup holders." In a chapter titled "Archery Moms?", Penn reports on the "Niching of Sports": much to the consternation of Major League Baseball, "we don't like sports less, we just like little sports more." The net result of all this "niching" is "greater individual satisfaction"; as Penn notes, "not one of the fastest-growing sports in America... depends substantially on teamwork." Penn draws similar lessons in areas of business, culture, technology, diet, politics and education (among other areas), reporting on 70 groups ("Impressionable Elites," "Caffeine Crazies," "Neglected Dads," "Unisexuals," "America's Home-Schooled") while remaining energetic and entertaining throughout. Culture buffs, retailers and especially businesspeople for whom "small is the new big" will value this exercise in nano-sociology.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"A striking window into 'Hillary's Brain'." -- Politico

"Culture buffs, retailers and especially businesspeople for whom "small is the new big" will value this exercise in nano-sociology." -- Publishers Weekly

"Delightful and fast-paced....A breezy, entertaining consideration of niche groups within America." -- Business Week

"If small is still the new big, then the biggest book of the moment is Microtrends...Penn sifts the sociological sands to come up with a fine-grained view of where we're headed." -- Information Week

"Read it for its dozens of social insights that could well be turned to profit." -- The Economist

"Riveting....imaginative....Penn's thesis is that change in today's world is driven by small trends that are started below the radar ... . " -- Financial Times

"Sound and cleverly written....will undoubtedly appeal to marketing analysts and armchair sociologists, as well as fans of Megatrends and Malcolm Gladwell." -- Kirkus Reviews

"Stuffed with smart, offbeat tidbits....Penn and his co-author, E. Kinney Zalesne, deserve credit for leavening their facts and figures with humor and pop-culture asides." -- Bloomberg

"The strength of the book lies in Penn's analysis of the implications and opportunities of each microtrend." -- USA Today

"Unrelentingly fascinating....Microtrends is a diligently researched tome chock-full of counterintuitive facts and findings." -- The New York Times

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Customer Reviews

This book is both interesting and informative.
John Vanston
Just because this is a trend, does not mean it is a good thing for society or that it will even have that much of an impact in the future.
J. Hartz
Unfortunately, early on Penn makes it clear that you can't trust him, using faulty logic and contradicting himself just paragraphs apart.
Hal Incandenza

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

94 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Test on September 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A book categorizing approximately 75 trends the author sees in the modern world (American-focused).
Written so that the ideas presented can be processed in everything from bite-sized individual morsels to sectional chunks (e.g. Love, Sex, and Relationships).

Cons:
-Sometimes staid writing
-Use of book to plug commercial contacts
(Microsoft's Zune, Mark, as leading some kind of social music revolution? the Zune? C'mon!)
-tendency to generalize anecdotes or a handful of data points he has seen into opinions he thinks are held by significant amounts of people
-highly timely, and will not age well

Microtrends is intriguing; for any watcher of society, Penn's book will likely tell you about social changes you already knew, will likely crystallize broader happenings you have-been-seeing-but-have-not-yet-realized or put a name to, and will likely introduce you to entirely new trends (and it is in these startling moments that the book becomes particularly worth the read).

Mark should be applauded for showing the value of numbers, and of data, in modern society. My only qualm with his idea-sourcing is how he never looks to the numbers to disprove a trend. Instead, he looks at them to justify what he already suspects. This is one of humanity's cognitive biases: the need to confirm what we think is true (rather than taking the alternate, harder, and ultimately more rewarding route of trying to disprove whether something is true, as real science does). While Penn is often right in his trends, that does not mean he will always be right, or that his methodology, as it stands, is not flawed.

Still, Penn effectively yanks the reader's attention in such a way that we can't help but notice new things about our daily world.
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51 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Larry Mark MyJewishBooksDotCom on September 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I enjoy demographic and trend books, like "Lattitudes and Attitudes," and was slightly enchanted by Claritas urban/rural clusters, like "Shotguns and Pickups." But this book is far better at discovering behavioral groups and driving home, with humor and data, the trends as well as the policy or business options to complement the highlighted behaviors.

Three decades ago, Penn sat in a Harvard library and read a book by Valdimer Orlando Key, Jr., in which he wrote that `voters are not fools.' Key was known for promoting realism and rationality in the analysis of politics and election returns. Voters and consumers should be seen as being rational. As Penn writes, it is not about a male candidate's necktie color, but real issues. If one takes the time to understand the trends, one can find the roots of behaviors and desires, and potentially the future consuming and voting patterns. To that end, Penn, a pollster for over 30 years (actually he first administered a poll on his teachers at the age of 13), Clinton's lead pollster/strategist, and the person credited with defining "soccer moms" (busy suburban mothers with families and careers and political policy goals who were swing voters in the last decade) has explored and highlighted 75 out of hundreds of microtrends - these small, under the radar forces that involve as little as 1% of America's population and registered prime voters - which may affect America's future.

In the book, Penn is quick to point out that a microtrend is not merely a development, like the increased use of debit cards or wives changing their surnames upon marriage, but a growing interest group with needs and desires which are unmet by the corporate or political environment.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Hal Incandenza on November 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Mark Penn, the author of Microtrends, claims to be a numbers guy, pulling apart the statistics to find groups approaching 1% of the population that will continue to grow and affect the general path of society. He says these groups, like extreme commuters, adult video game players, and vegan children should be catered to in terms of advertising and politics.

Unfortunately, early on Penn makes it clear that you can't trust him, using faulty logic and contradicting himself just paragraphs apart.

"Now candidates enthusiastically target Soccer Moms -- although someone may want to let them know that trends move fast, and Soccer Moms, too, have moved on." (p. xiii)

"Soccer Moms had been there for a decade of more..." (p. xiv)

So in the span of two pages, he tells us that now Soccer Moms have moved on, but that they had been there for 10 years before anyone noticed them. It doesn't add up - if there were Soccer Moms around in 1980 and 1990, why not 2000 or 2010? He doesn't support this argument, and doesn't even acknowledge the disparity between his statements.

In addition, he, like many pop-social commentary writers, doesn't seem to understand the Internet or its magnitude. In a chapter on Pro-Semitism, Penn notes, "An entire blog is devoted to the propriety and sensitivity of using a chuppah..." An entire blog? No way. That movement must really be making waves to have an entire blog about it. In the same fashion, there is a strong anti-Microtrends faction that the author needs to consider, as there is an entire, lengthy review about not liking the book. Seem ludicrous? So does his statement.

Unfortunately, things like these plague the book and make me leery of Penn.
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