This is a small excerpt (page 144) from the book ‘Trendsociology v. 2.0’, published by pej gruppen. Buy the book here.

Statistician Mark J. Penn believes that microtrends are forces that drive our society, more than the other way around. In the book ‘Microtrends’ he identified 75 trends across 15 categories which have emerged in smaller groups (or intense identity groups), have spread rapidly and are going to be crucial in the long-term. He does not reject the idea of megatrends that can explain the major changes, but he advocates that in the highly individualised, digitised and global world there is a need to place greater focus on microtrends because they have greatly increased in numbers, can exist in multiple locations, are completely independent of each other and can be crucial in the long-term – and thus can be dangerous to overlook. Penn’s thoughts have a clear connection with the study of weak signals and slightly lean towards the thinking behind cool hunting.

”A microtrend is an intense identity group that is growing, which has needs and wants unmet by the current crop of companies, marketers, policy makers and others who would influence society’s behaviour.” Mark J. Penn, Political Strategist

His basic idea is that in the Western world there is a growing diversity and that we have become much less homogeneous. Consequently, product and service development become targeted at small groups with their own closed system, where trends emerge and die. He also sees the growing diversity as a symbol of the declining relevance of major trends that apply to masses of people. He also believes that many small trends are often opposites; for example, a great deal of interest in healthy food, while fast food is prevalent. Instead of being confused about the many conflicting trends, he chooses to see them as reliable indicators of many subgroups, where a given trend dominates. He calls it “microtargeting” and describes it as the identification of small, intense subgroups and communicates with them to identify their wants and needs. He goes against the conventional idea of reaching 5 percent to be able to talk about a new trend and believes that connection from only 1 percent can be enough to create a trend that should not be overlooked.
The 5 percent is in fact based on sociological studies of animals and humans, where it is concluded that extensive groups move as gregarious animals when a smaller group decides to move, and then the rest follow. In these studies, the understanding is that the small group will only need to make up 5 percent to have a decisive or transformational effect on the rest of the group.

”In today’s mass society, it takes only 1 percent of people making a dedicated choice – contrary to the mainstream’s choice – to create a movement that can change the world,” Mark J. Penn, Political Strategist.

Interested in getting your hands on the entire book, (it’s 400 pages), it is possible to buy here.

The book consists of three parts:

  1. Theory and practical description of what a trend is, how it is spread and what effect it may have.
  2. Interview with 17 of the world’s top trend researchers
  3. Practical process description (5 phased process) with concrete methods and tools for working with trends.