Thought Leadership

Hitting the Mark: The Microtrends Shaping the Consumers of Tomorrow


Mark Penn

At the end of October, I brought my bestselling “Microtrends” franchise to the Association of National Advertisers’ annual Masters of Marketing conference keynote stage, and now I’m bringing the insights to you. This month’s edition of Hitting the Mark dives into these small, counterintuitive trends that have big impacts on society and will shape tomorrow’s consumers. If you want to predict the future, you must have a better understanding of the present.

Today’s consumers are older, more health-driven, more diverse and more divided into microtrends than ever before. Our world today is driven by personalization and technology. The march in personalization has transformed our economy from the Ford economy (any choice as long as it’s black) to the Starbucks economy (150 choices starting with black coffee) to the Uber economy (infinite personalized choices). But the paradox of choice is that more choices available lead to fewer choices made.

Here are the key microtrends that businesses should consider.

Life is an accordion. And it’s getting longer as life milestones are getting pushed back for the young and the old.

  • Footloose and fancy-free: Since 1980, the median age of first marriage has increased eight years for women and men to 29 and 31, respectively.
  • Mid-life fertility: Birth rates are jumping for women in their late 30s and early 40s with the median age of women giving birth rising to 30, the highest on record.
  • Nonagenarians: The 90+ population has nearly quadrupled in the past 40 years to over 2.5 million Americans.
  • Senior spenders: Last year the 65+ population accounted for a record 22% of U.S. spending with healthier finances, less need to borrow, and little worry about layoffs. And Baby Boomers are retiring with $77 trillion in wealth.

Tech goes both ways. Many Americans eagerly seek out the latest upgrades, but other groups are starting to intentionally opt out.

  • Self-data lovers: 43% of Americans now track their health and fitness information, mainly on smartphone apps.
  • Technology-advanced people: 79% of Americans expressing interest in a device that would enhance their hearing or vision.
  • Bots with benefits: Over a quarter of American households have Amazon Alexa devices. AI will help voice eventually replace links as the primary mode of communication between computers and people. Bots will soon be able to use personal information to mimic acquaintances and computer-people interactions will become more human.
  • The new addicts: Technology comes with negative effects too. Half of U.S. teens, especially teenage girls, report feeling addicted to mobile devices.
  • New Luddites: Tech backlash is rising among a growing group that doesn’t want constant connection to the grid. While 85% of users have smartphones, global “dumb phone” sales were projected to have hit 1 billion devices in 2021, up from 400 million in 2019.

Wagyu everything. We are seeing the rise of the super-premium marketplace – where there’s good, better, best and Wagyu. Wagyu consumption rose by 153% between 2020 and 2022 as consumers with the money choose deluxe whenever they can.

So how can businesses take advantage of these microtrends?

  • Data is king. You will lose out if you have no personal profile of your consumers.
  • Think services as much as products.
  • For every marketplace, there is a counter-marketplace.

As always, please reach out with questions and comments.

Until next time,

Mark Penn




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