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Book Review - "Microtrends" by Mark J. Penn

Chief Strategist for Hillary Clinton Campaign


Book Review -

"Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes"
by Mark J. Penn with E. Kinney Zalesne

Book published on September 5, 2007

Author Mark Penn, Clinton Political Strategist

Mark J. Penn served as chief strategist to Hillary Clinton's senatorial campaigns in 2000 and 2006, as well as to her 2008 presidential campaign.

But Mr. Penn is better known outside political insider circles as the campaign guru who coined the phrase "soccer moms" when he served as pollster and adviser to President Bill Clinton's 1996 reelection campaign.

"Soccer moms" were described by Mark Penn as busy suburban mothers who were concerned about presidential politics, but unsure for whom to cast their vote. Penn identified "soccer moms" as a key subgroup that Clinton needed to win in his reelection bid.

President Clinton as reelected in 1996 in large part because he aimed his campaign messages toward meeting the needs of niche subgroups, such as soccer moms.

Mark J. Penn has been instrumental in formulating Bill and Hillary Clinton's political messages and campaigns since that 1996 electoral victory.

Mr. Penn is also CEO of Burson-Marsteller, one of the world's largest public relations and advertising firm. Microsoft, Boeing, Sony Electronics, Shell Oil, ARCO, Chevron, Eli Lilly, General Electric, Citicorp, Coca-Cola and Dow Chemical number among hundreds of Burson-Marsteller corporate clients.

Burson-Marsteller also counseled Blackwater, the private U.S. firm that provided extensive security services in the Iraq War, on burnishing its public image in reaction to claims of abuse and killing in Iraq by Blackwater employees.

About the book "Microtrends"

This easy-to-read, well-annotated tome is, essentially, about dividing the American people into niche groups based on current trends in order to sell products or messages to them. Mr. Penn spots new and enduring trends mainly by intensive polling.

Writes Mark J. Penn in his introduction:

"This book is all about the niching of America. How there is no One America anymore, or Two, or Three, or eight.

"In fact, there are hundreds of Americas, hundreds of new niches made up of people drawn together by common interests...

"The art of trend-spotting, through polls, is to find groups that are pursuing common activities and desires, and that have either started to come together or can be brought together by the right appeal that crystallizes their needs."

The book features 75 interesting chapters, packaged in 15 topical sections, that each profile a microtrend niche group that Penn regards as vital to successful selling of a message or product in America in 2008 and beyond.

Microtrend niche groups described and analyzed include:

  • Love, Sex & Relationships - Cougars, Commuter Couples, Office Romancers [
  • Race & Religion - Protestant Hispanics, Pro-Semites
  • Family Life - Pet Parents, Pampering Parents
  • Politics - Militant Illegals, Christian Zionists
  • Teens - The Mildly Disordered, Aspiring Snipers
  • Food, Drink & Diet - Starving for Life, Caffeine Crazies
  • Lifestyle - Neglected Dads, Unisexuals
  • Money & Class - Bourgeois and Bankrupt
  • Looks & Fashion - Surgery Lovers, Uptown Tattooed
  • Technology - Social Geeks, Tech Fatales
  • Leisure & Entertainment - XXX Men
  • Education - Smart Child Left Behind, College Drop-Outs
  • International - Educated Terrorists, Indian Woman Rising
In the concluding chapter, author Mark J.Penn extols:
"In critical area after critical area, we are seeing the potential for greater fragmentation, and the impact of microtrends in accelerating that fragmentation...

"The flip side of this disaggregation of society is that it will continued to increase support for tolerance...

"Other observers of the rise in choice and specialization have argued that the book threatens social cohesion. If everything is up for self-determintion... than there can be no unity, no community, no single america, no universal peoplehood.

"Well, there probably never was as much national unity as mythologizers like to remember."

See a frank evaluation of "Microtrends" at page two of this article.

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