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Kent Blumberg

Mark Penn and E. Kinney Zalesne


Plenty of people try to predict what 'The Next Big Thing' is likely to be. In Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Today's Big Changes, Mark Penn and E. Kinney Zalesne take a different approach. They look at trends which are happening now, which involve a small proportion of the population, which nevertheless adds up to a considerable number of people.

The book has 75 sections, each describing one such trend. One is to do with sport - the most popular sports are shown to be losing ground to more minority interests such as archery. Sometimes problems are solved in several different ways, for instance a couple who have jobs far apart might go in for 'Extreme Commuting' or they may have two houses -although we also find that many couples have two houses - 'Live Apart Together' - in the same city. And you've heard that people's attention span is forever decreasing - so how come the length of bestselling novels is increasing.

It's fun to read about trends which go counter to you're intuitition, and other books might overemphasis the counterintuitive nature of such trends, but I think this book has a more serious point. Penn has spent many years spotting the small changes in society before they are noticed by others, and this book is an excellent resource to those people - politicians, parents and many others - who can benefit from such foresight.