Microtrends…How Small Has Become the New BIG!

Magnifying glassYou may have heard these words…indeed used them yourself.  Are you a DIY Doctor?  Do you know Extreme Commuters or have friends who are Stay-at-Home Workers?  Perhaps you work WITH one half of a Commuter Couple or work FOR a High School MogulSecond-Home Buyers and International Home Buyers may be more familiar to those of us in the real estate crowd, but whether we’re aware of it or not, the Bourgeois and Bankrupt as well as Social Geeks are terms real estate agents need to know.  They are our Future Customers!

In his ground-breaking New Book entitled Microtrends, Mark Penn with E. Kinney Zalesne provides an enlightening analysis of 75 small groups/movements.  He uses the term Microtrend to describe the idea that the most powerful forces in our society are emerging, courter-intuitive trends that are shaping tomorrow right before us.” We’re talking really small numbers here. According to Penn, “Only one percent of the public, or three million people, can create a microtrend capable of launching a business or a social movement.”

Because so much attention is placed on the big picture, we have a tendency to miss these small, but extremely significant markers. For instance in the 1996 Presidential campaign, Penn is credited with correctly identifying and labelling Soccer Moms who turned out to be very important Swing Voters.  Voters who had been largely ignored by most…yet were skillfully and successfully courted by then Presidential candidate, Bill Clinton.

For the first time in history, the explosion of personal choice coupled with the expansive network of interactions created through the Internet has provided a way for just about everyone to find someone who appreciates their own particular brand of uniqueness. Chris Anderson describes the phenomenon in his book The Long Tail.   

The implications of this emerging dynamic are important for just about every business. For some, the customer base will transform right before their eyes…in other cases it may seem to disappear because the need has shifted elsewhere. The other challenge is that because these powerful movements are so small, the movement may be barely perceptible but have enormous implications when the it occurs.

Case in point…the Soccer Moms of 10 years ago now have new challenges.  I’m one, so I’ll speak from personal experience. Our kids are now in college and we’re concerned about the astronomical costs of college tuition.  So, while vendors may not be selling us soccer gear anymore and we’re not longer running kids to games all over the universe, we’re still concerned about things which impact our kids. However, it would be a big mistake for a politician to try the pitch that worked for Bill Clinton with this crowd now.

As real estate agents, we have also tended to focus on the big swings.  We all know the stats…87%of buyers are looking on line to find an agent. While this is true, I would suggest that in our increasingly fragmented world, this is the base level from which our analysis of market shifts begin. As markets continue to transform, it will be important to know which segments of a particular community are tanking, which are remaining stable and which are appreciating. In some cases, this dynamic may occur across just a few blocks!  Being able to correctly identify these trends will enable agents to provide higher levels of service and justify payment of commissions to those who demonstrate the expertise to get it right. 

Understanding that Small is the New Big has important implications for the real estate industry.  It’s not going to be about being the Agent for Buyers or Sellers.  The Question will be much more specific.  Which particular Group of Buyers and Sellers and What Particular Needs are you interested in providing Solutions for?.  Those who examine their businesses carefully will spot these trends.  Taking the time to figure out what truly works and where to place your resources, time and energy is a exercise with enormous potential in creating a profitable future as we enter a Brand New Year in 2008!

Interesting Facts from the Book Microtrends:

According to US Census Data for 2006…there are 3.5 Million people with Commuter Marriages in the US.

According to a 2005 NAR Report, the typical second home buyer earns $71,000 and buys a home under $200,000.  Investors typically earn $85,000. In 2005, 2 Million investment properties were purchased.

More than 3.4 Million people drive more than an hour EVERY day to go to work.

According to Business Week, as of 2000, 1.6 Million young people are making money on the Internet and more than 7 in 10 teens say they are interested in becoming entrepreneurs.

DIY * Do It Yourself Doctors…in 2005, according to AC Nielsen, 117 Million people used the Internet to seek out health related information.

Never underestimate the power of a small number of passionate individuals.  They’re apt to change the world when they set their minds on it! 🙂

Copyright 2007 Audu Real Estate  All Rights Reserved

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Schuler Bookstore & Cafe…A book lover’s delight!

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I can’t resist the urge to visit this place.  Nestling myself by the fireplace with a favorite stack of books or meandering through row upon row of mesmerizing titles…a trip to Schuler Books is always an invigorating detour or destination stop!  Can you tell…I love books!  In my home, they’re everywhere.  I’m the sort of person who enters your home and instinctively heads towards the bookshelf.  Books are my muse.

Schuler Books has four different locations in the West Michigan area.  It’s one of the nations’ largest Independent retail booksellers.  Schuler Books also carries an impressive assortment of music, unique gifts,CD’s & DVD selections.

My first introduction to Schuler was through my friend and poet Patricia Jabbeh Wesley who was doing a poetic reading at Schuler Books.  Throughout the year, various authors and speakers are invited to do presentations and sign books in the studio located at the back of the store.

Schuler Books carries over 100,000 book titles and 50,000 music titles.  Arts and crafts from a variety of local artist are also featured throughout the store which gives the space an intimacy fostered by eclectic accents and comfortable reading nooks.

The Chapbook Cafe is a well loved favorite haunt of Schuler Books’ regular patrons.  It’s a great place to grab a cup of coffee or cappuccino or have a leisurely light lunch or supper.

Schuler Books just opened it’s Newest Location in Downtown Grand Rapids.  I enjoyed reading Chris Knapes account of a recent visit to the downtown location. So, now…whether you’re east, west or north…there’s a Schulers’ Bookstore near you!