The 1% Question


Face in a crowd
Originally uploaded by vividBreeze.

Here’s a question: How would we know when we’ve got a movement?  By that, I mean, how many people would it require before anyone looking at Black rock said, yes, it’s a significant trend?  The answer may be less than you think.

In a recent paper Mark Penn (incidentally the CEO of big PR agency Burson-Marsteller) asserts that it’s important to pay attention to what he calls “microtrends”—“small, under-the-radar forces that can involve as little as 1 percent of the [a] population.”  More importantly, it’s the “ideas that the most powerful forces in our society are the emerging, counter-intuitive trends shaping tomorrow right before us.”  As an example:

We  used to live in the “Ford economy,” where workers created one black car, over and over, for thousands of consumers.  Now we live in the “Starbucks economy,” where workers create thousands of different cups of coffee, for individual consumers.

Back to the 1 percent.  If you look at it in terms of the entire United States (population 300 million), 1 percent (3 million) means that there’s enough people to drive “a hit movie, create a political movement, or event start a war.”  He goes onto say:

In today’s mass societies, it takes only 1 percent of people making a dedicated choice—contrary to the mainstream’s choice—to change the world. [emphasis mine]

Currently, according to Target Market News, there are 38.3 million African Americans.  So 1 percent is just under 400,000.  But that’s a decent number, particularly if you’re able to define who and where they are.  Imagine if you could find 3-400,000 people to support a monthly magazine; or if a Web site had that many monthly unique visitors; or artists could be assured that they’d reach that many people while on tour; or that they could count on 400,000 downloads of a song (or an album!)

What this means is that larger corporate entities would then have to give this segment serious consideration.

Of course, identifying nearly 400,000 African Americans who would self-select as fans of Black rock is a great goal.  However, it may be a stretch for most artists.

But, the big takeaway here is worth reiterating: We don’t need everyone, just the right ones.

Who do you think is in Black rock’s 1 percent?  Where are they?  Artists, who’s in your 1 percent?  Where are they?

Just 1%: The Power of Microtrends, by Mark Penn &  E. Kinney Zalense, is available for FREE download.

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