Mark J. Penn is one of the most respected and sought-after analysts in the world. He has spent over thirty years as an adviser and polling analyst to major corporations and heads of state. He has done research for people such as Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair. His latest book Microtrends looks at what he believes are the small forces behind today’s big changes.
He believes that today’s biggest movements are small and that small is the new big. Even 1% can create a movement to change the world. We are seeing the ‘niching’ of the world – 100s of small directions all at once. In his book he takes a snapshot look at 75 groups who, according to his research, represent a portrait of our world (his research focuses primarily on America, but he does cover some international microtrends too).
Here are just a few of the interesting ‘microtrends’ Penn observes:
- Bill and Hilary Clinton have – two careers, two houses, see each other fourteen days a month, and travel to be together two out of every three weekends. This is becoming a way of life for more Americans with 3.5 million people doing what is being called ‘commuter marriage’. Internationally, this trend is on the rise too, with foreign job placements and dual-career couples.
- 1 in 4 single Americans who are looking for a romantic partner – or about 16 million people – use the 1,000 or more dating web sites out there. Previous venues for finding partners – religious institutions and matchmakers – are being replaced by where the new generation is to be found – at the office and on the internet.
- Retirement from work is being pushed later and later or not at all. The Golden Years are becoming Golden Opportunities for many.
- Extreme commuters are another microtrend – people who travel more than 90 minutes to work (3.4 million in the USA) in order to have a nicer home and a quieter life when home. Europe and Asia are seeing mega-commuters who fly to work.
- Women are dominating word-based professions: journalism, law, public relations, and education. Is politics next?
- Inter-racial families are on the rise as acceptance has soared and the stigma has eroded.
- There are now more Latinos (Spanish speaking people) than blacks in America now. Latinos make up 14% of the American population. Many of them are Pentecostal (9 million).
- Left-handedness is on the rise as anti-left bias disappears. Influential left-handers include: Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Isaac Newton, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Beethoven.
- Do-it-yourself doctors are on the rise due to declining public confidence in the health system, especially in America. Check out www.WebMD.com
- Older new dads are on the rise – having children later, due to divorce, or early career success.
- Pet ownership is increasing. 63% of American households have a pet (double that of households with children). There is a growing market of pet-related products and services, including a luxury pet market!
- Parenting – parents today are more permissive than previous generations but they think they are more ‘strict’! It’s a generation of pampering parents.
- Knitting is on the rise – it’s ‘hip’ now.
- Vegetarians and vegans are on the rise. Many people are eating healthier.
- ‘Globesity’ – on the other hand the world is getting fatter. This is diet-related and due to more sedentary lifestyles (‘couch potatoes’).
- Tattoos – body art is mainstream now. Nearly 25% of Americans have a tattoo. What’s next?
- Cosmetic and plastic surgery is on the rise. Many people desire perpetual youth.
- ‘Geeks’ are gone. The next generation is both extrovert social and tech-savvy (e.g. Facebook and MySpace).
- Little sports are on the rise – skateboarding, snowboarding, etc. Less teamwork. Personal, not communal.
- Classical music is back. See www.classicalarchives.com
- Home schooling continues to rise (1.1 million in the USA – 2.2%). Home College next?
- Religion – the world is becoming more modern not more secular. Religion is fractualising. There are now 10,000 distinct and separate religions (with 2-3 new ones created daily). It’s a day of mega-churches and mini-churches.
Interested in more? Check out www.microtrending.com
We live in a time of rapid change. May we as God’s people cling to the unchanging and timeless truth of His Word, yet at the same time seek to be relevant to our generation.