Pendulum book cover

“Pendulum” – A fascinating book, if not always on the mark

I just finished the book “Pendulum: How past generations shape our present and predict our future“. It’s macro guide with micro strategic implications that could help a business become more profitable.

It’s an interesting read about the natural 80-year cycles of society’s shifts in attitudes and tastes and how best to capitalize on these tidal changes from a marketing perspective. Since marketing is mostly an appeal to emotions, it helps provide general guidance about regional societies’ changing tastes, norms, and preferences that can shape marketing strategies and help make decisions for advertising and calls to action based on emotional appeal.

For instance, should marketing and public messaging appeal to a more individualistic or common, nationalistic sentiment? “Pendulum” kind of looks at the tea leaves in its sometimes too-rigid 80-year cycle context. At times, though the authors seem to struggle to fit past major events tightly into it’s 20-year pendulum movements to justify their findings, its greater service is how it raises awareness and helps marketing strategists be more cognizant of the phenomenon of society’s macro shifts in human emotions and behaviors.

“Pendulum” also explains why and how public sentiment can seem to shift so quickly, making the case that Marketing must be fluid and the only constant when dealing with human behavior and audiences is that they will inevitably change. Armed with Pendulum’s insights, these changes in public sentiment may become more predictable and less jarring to companies who may be reeling from a sudden loss in web traffic or audience response.

Looking at current events and recent events in the past I find in a lot of ways it’s not too far off the mark identifying certain apexes of public sentiments where the authors show the inevitable swing towards new attitudes and norms were predictable if people paid attention to certain markers. The hair bands of the ’80s and the swinging ’20s actually do have many things in common.

For marketers, this is an excellent base for starting research and breathing fresh air into marketing plans as they look for new approaches to reach their target market audiences. It offers a unique 40,000 foot perspective about the natural ebbs and flows of society while providing general guidance in predicting public sentiments to help shape future communication and marketing strategies down to the type of imagery that would be more impactful on your website and corporate materials.

It certainly offers some very credible explanations about why certain marketing tactics and messaging work then fall out of favor. As a software developer who appreciates systems and the building blocks and patterns on which everything functions together, the insights about the 80-year cycles of societies aren’t profound as much as they help raise awareness of the herd mentality of societies.

Overall, “Pendulum” is a very interesting read that will inevitably welcome new perspectives and questions when deliberating future business and marketing strategies.

Aaron Belchamber

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