5.0 out of 5 stars
Very good read!!
Reviewed in the United States on October 11, 2020
New york time’s best seller, “Contagious: why things catch on”, by Jonah Berger, goes through many examples of the methods used to catch the attention of the majority of people, and what gets ignored. Berger says “regardless of how plain or boring a product or idea may seem, there are ways to make it contagious…”. The author presents real life examples to illustrate points in order to inform the reader on why things catch on, in a marketing perspective. Berger has studied why things go “viral” and claims that most communications of products are not through the internet, but by word-of-mouth. This book is useful when learning about why some businesses fail and others have booming businesses. It is split up by the acronym STEPPS- Social currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical value, and Stories, with examples of real businesses in each, which is also useful.
Traditional marketing suggests that the factors that determine a business’ or product’s success are quality, price, and the advertising. Berger explains that it is much deeper than that, and that the more important factors are word-of-mouth transmission and social influence. Word-of-mouth is much more effective because it is persuasive, because people trust more what others recommend rather than what they see on T.V. or social media. This was very interesting to read and I agree with his points- and the numbers prove it accounts for 20-50% of all purchasing decisions. Shockingly, only 7% of word-of-mouth advertising is done through social media.
The author's main arguments are split up by the STEPPS acronym, and each is successfully argued with facts and experience. The first chapter starts with Social currency. This chapter puts emphasis on being “in the know” on something, and wanting to share it with others. The example Berger used was the hot dog restaurant having a secret bar hidden with a secret door in a phone booth. The restaurant and bar have done well for years because people feel like they are “in the know” and recommend it to others, as if they are a part of some big secret. The next chapter, Triggers, is about how one thing triggers another. Such as buying coffee and donuts, peanut butter and jelly, and specifically in the book it is mentioned that the Mars candy company saw a spike in sales during the time in 1997 when NASA was organizing a mission to Mars. Emotion is all about how when something provokes emotion or inspires you, you are more likely to share it. Public is about how people imitate others, with the example of how people are more likely to choose a restaurant or store that has more people in it, and to walk past the ones that are empty. Next, practical value is about how important information is more useful to share, and relies heavily on buyer behavior because people like to help others . Finally, stories explains how a good story is likely to be told especially when it provokes emotion, and thus makes people want to share it with others.
In my opinion, “Contagious: why things catch on” by Jonah Berger is a very interesting read with useful information. As soon as you pick up the book it is difficult to put it down, as it keeps the audience engaged and interested. It is very easy to understand and it allows the reader to put into perspective that marketing is deeper than just advertising on social media. This book could be particularly very useful to students who are interested in studying marketing, interested in psychology and why people are influenced by certain things and not others, or people who have plans to start a business- or just anyone on social media. “Contagious” could even be useful to people who simply do not want to be manipulated by businesses and gain the ability to see through the different marketing strategies. Not only are you given real life scenarios and statistics, but also you are shown proof on how STEPPS can help create a booming business. The stories that are provided are especially useful as they keep the reader engaged while also providing useful information. The only negative of this book I found was the way it is written, as it repeats a lot and could be interpreted as reading a children’s book, and some may get a bit bored. Readers may want to skip over parts as it repeats the same ideas during the chapter and may find it to be a bit redundant at times.
Overall the information is useful enough that I did not mind it too much as I found it just makes it a quick read on why things go viral and how businesses manipulate customers. I enjoyed reading this book, and if you plan on developing a marketing plan or strategy for your business, “Contagious: why things catch on” would be useful to test the strategies to make sure it would be successful. The author successfully explains the STEPPS to making a business successful and used his own education and research to back up the claims being made. The book did not really come off as persuasive, just informative of what works and what does not. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about how marketing strategies work and how companies can manipulate you.
Similar books to “Contagious” include: "Diffusion of Innovations," by Everett Rogers, “Influence” by Robert B. Cialdini, and “The Nuclear Effect” by Scott Oldford. Jonah Berger also has other books that talk about marketing and how to influence other people, such as “The Catalyst” and “Invisible Influence”. Overall, “Contagious” by Jonah Berger is an excellent book to start off with if you want to understand the aspects of marketing and advertising and what can make a company successful, especially when today it is harder than ever to find what will stick to consumers, this book brings about the most effective and prosperous ways on making your product or business contagious.