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This book is fascinating. Just fascinating. Mark Penn, the man credited with recognizing the swing-vote group "soccer moms" during the 1996 presidential election, has collected 75 niches or groups who are gaining in interest and power. Penn defines a microtrend as "an intense identity group that is growing, which has needs and wants unmet by the current crop of companies and policy makers." These groups include Internet Marrieds, people who meet unashamedly on the Internet and marry, maybe someday bronzing the ads that brought them together. They include the Extreme Commuters, those who drive more the 90 minutes one way to work every day so they can live in lovely country settings with good schools for their kids. Penn talks about how women have taken over the wordy professions like law and journalism, how stay-at-home workers report higher productivity and job-satisfaction rates than regular workers, and how one of the most interesting voting blocks now is the group of Protestant Hispanics.

Penn describes people who are vigilant about not being in the sun as "sun haters" and the effect they've had on the clothing industry. He has a very interesting chapter about do-it-yourself doctors who diagnosis and treat themselves entirely over the Internet, only going to the doctor after everything they've learned and tried has failed. They make very difficult and frustrating patients, and they are a growing group. And then there's the group "young knitters" for whom knit one pearl too is cooler than ipods and the Long-Attention-Spanners who love longer novels and Sudoku puzzles and anything else that challenges the mind.

Oh - I loved this book. I ate it up. I will share it with thoughtful, curious types for weeks to come. I highly recommend Microtrends, The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes.

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