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To the Editors of American Demographics:

Perhaps you're aware of the commonly held notion that national trends begin in New York and Los Angeles and eventually drift to the middle of the country. This gets me to wondering: Where do trends typically begin? I'm aware of several books that discuss “who� starts a trend, but I have never seen anything on “where� they begin. My guess is that they typically start in urban areas, given the strong creative populations found there, but have never seen anything that quantifies this.

Jim Wolf

Vice President, National Advertising

Village Voice Media, Inc.

New York City

Dear Jim:

The best breeding grounds for ideas and innovation tend to be urban areas. Our country's top creative centers include major East Coast cities, such as Washington, D.C., Boston and the Research Triangle area in North Carolina, as well as leading high-tech centers, such as the San Francisco Bay area and Seattle, according to Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class (Basic Books, 2002). These are places that draw more than their fair share of the 38 million “creative types� in the U.S. This group includes not only people in the arts and entertainment, but also scientists, engineers and professionals whose jobs in business, finance, law and health care require outstanding problem solving skills. However, the genesis of “the next big thing� is not large cities only. Some less obvious places, such as Madison, Wis., and Huntsville, Ala., also boast significant concentrations of creative types. In fact, new ideas are often hatched in areas that are home to major research universities or institutions.

According to Simmons Market Research Bureau, you're more likely to find these influential consumers in the Mid-Atlantic region, which includes D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York state, but excludes the New York metro area. Simmons, which is marketing a research tool that attempts to identify trendsetter types, found that people in these regions are 14 percent more likely than average to stand out as trendsetters.

Using Malcolm Gladwell's book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference, (Little Brown & Co., 2000) as a starting point, Simmons director of statistical sciences, Max Kilger, devised a survey of 27 statements aimed at classifying the psychological traits shared by four different kinds of trendsetters Examples include: “I like to share my knowledge with others� and “I like to try new things no one else has.� Using the survey, he identified members of this small group of influential people who can take an idea or behavior and spread it, giving life to trends. Data Simmons collected shows not only who these powerful disseminators of information are, but also how best to reach them and with what type of message.

Trendsetting consumers excel at sharing attitudes and opinions. They are generally engaged in life. That is, they tend to be more active socially, civically and politically than average. They value relationships, taking time to nurture them. They are also voracious consumers of information. While influence is their currency, says Kilger, Tipping Point people, who “tip� fringe attitudes over into the mainstream, are not necessarily famous. Still, according to Kilger, lobbyists, politicians and powerbrokers who operate inside the Beltway help boost the Mid-Atlantic's Tipping Point Index to 114. The Greater Los Angeles area and the Southwest, which encompasses Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, also index slightly higher than average for influential types (109).


To the Editors of American Demographics:

I am looking for any research you might have on consumers of bottled water.

Nick Lambesis


The Lambesis Agency

Carlsbad, Calif.

Dear Nick:

Bottled water has been flowing more freely than ever in the U.S. Americans quaffed 21.2 gallons per capita in 2002, up 116 percent from 9.8 gallons in 1992, based on the most recent estimates of the Beverage Marketing Corporation, a research and consulting firm that covers the beverage industry. In 2002, we guzzled 5.9 billion gallons in total and spent some $7.7 billion on bottled H 2 O, up 12 percent from $6.9 billion the year before.

Who is most likely to purchase bottled water? Both Mediamark and Simmons Market Research Bureau surveyed consumers on this question. But because Mediamark looked at bottled water and seltzer users, we chose to focus on Simmons' data, which looks at who drinks noncarbonated bottled spring water.

Bottled water drinkers tend to skew young or higher-income, two groups that don't often overlap. While whites are less likely than average to drink bottled water, Asians are far more likely to do so. Asian's relatively high incomes might be related to this tendency. Bill Imada, president and CEO of IW Group, a Los Angeles-based marketing communications company specializing in the Asian Pacific American markets, speculates that a number of factors could be at work. “Bottled water projects an image that many Asian Americans understand and appreciate: [it's] high quality, fashionable, health-conscious.� He also notes that such water tastes fresher and seems healthier. Muslims are another group that is far more likely to drink bottled water. An emphasis on healthy living may play a role. “There is a particular awareness among Muslims that they should consume wholesome and healthy things,� says Imam Omar Abu-Namous of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York.� It is one of the commandments of our religion that our food should always be sanitary and salubrious.�

Bottled water drinkers set high standards. They see themselves as perfectionists and are regarded by friends as fonts of knowledge on matters relating to health and nutrition. Perhaps that's because they tend to take a healthful approach to living. These water lovers are more likely than the average American to exercise at least once a week. They also tend to be environmentally conscientious: according to Simmons, they're less likely than average to buy cosmetics that were tested on animals.

People who agree that it is important to keep young looking are also more likely to guzzle bottled agua. They're probably the ones who insist on keeping themselves hydrated with the eight glasses of water a day that water marketers contend we need to imbibe to counter wrinkles.


Fax: (212) 204-1823. Attention: Chris Reynolds

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