Book Review: Karma Queens, Geek Gods & Innerpreneurs

Karma Queens ~
Women of a certain age who combine a desire to be in harmony with the universe.
Innerpreneurs ~
Chief managers of their own ‘brand,’ they find their inspiration within themselves.

Let’s start with an abbreviated version of the Publisher’s Synopsis:

What really makes consumers tick?

It’s a question every marketer, innovator, entrepreneur, or trend-watcher strives to answer, especially in an age when certain types of consumers are increasingly instrumental in shaping national and even global buying habits.

Based on thousands of hours of consumer research, Karma Queens, Geek Gods and Innerpreneurs is your hands-on guide to getting inside the minds of the people who are setting the trends in art, music, technology, fashion, health, and every kind of consumer product and service. Consumer Eyes founder Ron Rentel not only helps you understand Karma Queens, Geek Gods and other consumer types on a deeper level in order to reach them more effectively in your marketing and advertising, he also offers fresh insight into managing your brand and your business.

The book’s goal is to share 9 different ‘C-Types’ — “a rich, three-dimensional portrait of a type of consumer derived from their key attitudes and behaviors, their social status, and other demographic factors” as defined by the Consumer Eyes Consumer Immersion process, which the author claims his company pioneered to battle “focus group speak” in market segmentation study. All sounded interesting as I scanned the Table of Contents: Besides the 3 types in the book’s title, Rentel covers “Parentocrats, Denim Dads, Ms. Independents, Middlemen, Culture Crossers and E-litists.”

Parentocrats ~
Act out of love to assure their kids security and happiness,
yet often deny them the classical joys of childhood.

Denim Dads ~
Family involvement means more to them than climbing the corporate ladder.

My Book Review as shared on Goodreads

Karma Queens, Geek Gods, and Innerpreneurs by Ron Rentel

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a platform kind of book (whereby the author get his ideas published as a platform to further build a business on) which also has the potential for possible self-coaching if you choose to very diligently go that route, though I don’t feel the author has made it that clear or simple. On one hand, it’s written to be the kind of book you can just breeze through for entertainment value, and I’m guessing that’s what most readers will settle for. On the other, you can read deeper, key in on the Consumer Immersion technique he speaks of, and study to learn more if you’re able to detach somewhat objectively, but without missing the emotional clues, something I did try to do.

If you deliberately make that choice, set some goals for yourself when you read it. Is there an inner sociologist, anthropologist and marketer in you? I did find each chapter to be more comprehensive than I’d expected, sprinkled with quotations, anecdotes of still-prevalent buying habits, and covering health and wellness, beauty fashion and home, design, food and drink, culture society and spirituality, and some unusual expectations and insights. Each chapter ends with a Marketing Checklist and “Dig a Little Deeper”— suggested resources for further study.

Trend watching, and capitalizing on trends is not that easy, much less the trend anticipation postulated here, which comes from consumer typing: We don’t know what will take off, and when, so we usually are content to ride the wave however we can. I understand the authors encouragements: As a business person it’s good to have the awareness of how trend-spotting signals a result of consumer type habits, versus simply flagging a singular event. I might notice something now, but then I stop there, and often dismiss it as some quirk: I don’t think about it deeply enough in regard to seeing what other commonality exists between people with that anomaly, or with that motivational driver.

As a point of clarity between trends and C-types, Rentel explains that “trends are valuable in making certain that you’re up to speed on the present, but they aren’t very helpful in guessing where consumers might turn next… Types illuminate the consumer psyche, while trends merely articulate consumer behavior.”

So why my relatively low rating, especially in writing this much about the book? Unfulfilled promise. I feel like I really had to work on this to like it, and to gain something from it: Rentel didn’t keep me as interested as I expected him to, and he didn’t make it easy enough for me to stay engaged.

I think the author was too insulting far too often, and you need a thick skin to get the most out of this book when you read it, but achieve objectivity, and it can be a great exercise in empathetic Mahalo appreciation instead: We human beings are complex and fascinating.

A subset study here, is a question if the book was quickly dated in light of our economic climate in recent years or not: How enduring have some of these trends been in spite of it? The book was published in 2007, just prior to our Great Recession, with many of us still reeling from it and adjusting as we can: Rotten timing for this author, I’m sure. I don’t know of anyone who currently thinks of themselves as an eager consumer, whereas Rentel writes that “today’s mainstream, middle-class U.S. population lives high on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.” Not so now, early in 2011, however I continued reading with an open mind. I may no longer agree with the 9 different types profiled, however I remain interested in the methodology: For instance, I   wondered how I could apply this to a better ‘consumer typing’ of the Alaka‘i Manager.

As a manager, the immediate parallel I instinctively wondered about, was Rentel’s consumer typing as a possible new framing for workplace demographics, and in fact, it isn’t much of a stretch to make those applications between consumers, co-workers and peers, your family habits, and a multitude of other relationships.

However as I explained above, I never got that far. I was willingly distracted instead by his claim to have pioneered Consumer Immersion as his process, and once through that exploration I had enough, preferring to switch my own study habits elsewhere (within our own MWA 9 Key Concepts :-)

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

Why Goodreads? They have become an App Smart choice for me in 2011 for I want to return to more book reading, and have set a goal to read at least 36 books this year (this was book 8 for me). Read more about the Goodreads mission here, and let’s connect there if you decide to try it too! You can also follow them on Twitter.