Contagious: Why Things Catch On

Contagious: Why Things Catch On
By Jonah Berger

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Product Description

The New York Times bestseller that explains why certain products and ideas become popular. “Jonah Berger knows more about what makes information ‘go viral’ than anyone in the world” (Daniel Gilbert, author of the bestseller Stumbling on Happiness).

What makes things popular? If you said advertising, think again. People don’t listen to advertisements, they listen to their peers. But why do people talk about certain products and ideas more than others? Why are some stories and rumors more infectious? And what makes online content go viral?

Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger has spent the last decade answering these questions. He’s studied why New York Times articles make the paper’s own Most E-mailed list, why products get word of mouth, and how social influence shapes everything from the cars we buy to the clothes we wear to the names we give our children.

In Contagious, Berger reveals the secret science behind word-of-mouth and social transmission. Discover how six basic principles drive all sorts of things to become contagious, from consumer products and policy initiatives to workplace rumors and YouTube videos. Learn how a luxury steakhouse found popularity through the lowly cheesesteak, why anti-drug commercials might have actually increased drug use, and why more than 200 million consumers shared a video about one of the most seemingly boring products there is: a blender.

Contagious provides a set of specific, actionable techniques for helping information spread—for designing messages, advertisements, and content that people will share. Whether you’re a manager at a big company, a small business owner trying to boost awareness, a politician running for office, or a health official trying to get the word out, Contagious will show you how to make your product or idea catch on.

Product Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #1218 in Books
  • Brand: Simon Schuster
  • Published on: 2016-05-03
  • Released on: 2016-05-03
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 8.37" h x .60" w x 5.50" l, .0 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 256 pages


  • Simon Schuster

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist
We’re all familiar with the idea of something—a video clip, for example—going viral. But how does it happen? Berger identifies six principles that operate, either singly or in combination, when anything goes viral, including social currency (a restaurant makes itself so hard to find that it becomes famous); emotion (the clip of Susan Boyle’s first appearance on Britain’s Got Talent exploded on YouTube because people reacted to it emotionally); triggers (more people search online for the song “Friday” on Friday than on any other day of the week); and practical value (a man’s video showing how to cleanly shuck a cob of corn exploded due to its useful application). Some of what the author talks about here will seem utterly obvious, but there is plenty of insider stuff as well (for example, the brain trust at Apple debated which way the logo should face on the cover of its laptops: rightside up to the user, or rightside up to someone looking at the laptop’s open lid?). On such decisions are fortunes made. An engaging and often surprising book. --David Pitt

“Jonah Berger is as creative and thoughtful as he is spunky and playful. Looking at his research, much like studying a masterpiece in a museum, provides the observer with new insights about life and also makes one aware of the creator's ingenuity and creativity. It is hard to come up with a better example of using social science to illuminate the ordinary and extraordinary in our daily lives.” (Dan Ariely, James B. Duke professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University and bestselling author of Predictably Irrational)

“Why do some ideas seemingly spread overnight, while others disappear? How can some products become ubiquitous, while others never gain traction? Jonah Berger knows the answers, and, with Contagious, now we do, too." (Charles Duhigg, author of the bestselling The Power of Habit)

“If you are seeking a bigger impact, especially with a smaller budget, you need this book. Contagious will show you how to make your product spread like crazy.” (Chip Heath, co-author of Made to Stick and Decisive)

“Jonah Berger knows more about what makes information ‘go viral’ than anyone in the world.” (Daniel Gilbert, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University and author of Stumbling on Happiness)

“Jonah Berger is the rare sort who has studied the facts, parsed it from the fiction—and performed groundbreaking experiments that have changed the way the experts think. If there’s one book you’re going to read this year on how ideas spread, it’s this one.” (Dave Balter, CEO of BzzAgent and Co-founder of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association)

“Think of it as the practical companion to Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.” (Tasha Eichenseher Discover)

“[Berger] sheds new light on phenomena that may seem familiar, showing with precision why things catch on. . . . As a playbook for marketers, Contagious is a success.” (Danielle Sacks Fast Company)

“Contagious contains arresting — and counterintuitive — facts and insights. . . . Most interesting of all are the examples Berger cites of successful and unsuccessful marketing campaigns.” (Glenn C. Altschuler The Boston Globe)

"For nonexperts who puzzle about the best way to make an impact in a world of social media addicts with short attention spans, it provides plenty to think about. . . . If there were a 'like' button underneath it, you'd probably find yourself clicking it." (Maija Palmer Los Angeles Times)

“An infectious treatise on viral marketing. . . . Berger writes in a sprightly, charming style that deftly delineates the intersection of cognitive psychology and social behavior with an eye toward helping businesspeople and others spread their messages. The result is a useful and entertaining primer that diagnoses countless baffling pop culture epidemics.” (Publishers Weekly)

“The book is just plain interesting. Berger’s cases are not only topical and relevant, but his principles seem practical and are easily understood. . . . I have a strong feeling that this book will catch on.” (Ben Frederick The Christian Science Monitor)

"An exegesis on how ideas really 'go viral' (hint: the internet gets too much credit) by a marketing wunderkind." (Details)

"A provocative shift in focus from the technology of online transmission to the human element and a bold claim to explain 'how word of mouth and social influence work . . . [to] make any product or idea contagious." (Kirkus Reviews)

About the Author
Jonah Berger is an associate professor of marketing at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. His research has been published in top-tier academic journals, and popular accounts of his work have appeared in The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalScienceHarvard Business Review, and more. His research has also been featured in the New York Times Magazine’s “Year in Ideas.” Berger has been recognized with a number of awards for both scholarship and teaching. The author of Contagious and Invisible Influence, he lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
5Follow these STEPPS!
By Steve Gladis
With entertaining stories and compelling experiments, Jonah Berger, a professor from Wharton, captures the essence of what makes things contagious—catch on. The six STEPPS principles are 1. Social Currency (we share things that make us look good); 2. Triggers (we share whatever is top of mind—and becomes “tip of tongue”); 3. Emotion (we share what we care about); 4. Public (we share what’s visible and shows); 5. Practical Value (we share what’s useful); and 6. Stories (we share what gets carried in stories). This book is an informative and entertaining read.

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
4This book is the perfect handbook for any novice business person trying to launch ...
By SETH Hamed
This book is the perfect handbook for any novice business person trying to launch a new product or promote their business. The book is split up into six chapters, each tackling their own part of Berger's STEPPS theory - Social currency, triggers, emotion, public, practical value and stories. This simple structure makes it easy to follow along and the lack of technicality makes this book practical for anyone with little background in the field of business. Also, Berger's use of modern examples brings his theories to life and creates a more relatable concept in the minds of his readers. He uses a conversational style of writing, constantly engaging the reader and making them apply the concepts to areas of their own lives. All in all, I think this book is an informative and funny read for any potential entrepreneur or aspiring business person.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful.
4Interesting and entertaining
By Ashley White
I enjoyed this book and I think it is a great reading for someone thinking about starting a business because it gives you many things to consider and also for someone who is trying to improve a business. I am currently enrolled in a survey entrepreneurship course at the University of Baltimore and I was selected to read this book. I really enjoyed the reading because it helped me see how I can change things within my mock business venture that my group and I are developing in our course. I like how the author refers to the 6 "stepps" with his acronym and he explains how the stepps influence things to "catch on". He discusses social currency ,the ways people view products and how they make themselves look to others; Triggers, how certain things make you think of a product such as the Mars bar; Emotion, how your feelings make you look at a product; Public, how your product branding looks and catches the public eye; Practical Value, the actual value of a product not monetary value but how it can benefit the customer and Stories, how your product tells a story and how they story sticks to a customer and reminds them of your product or services. The thing I enjoyed most about this reading is that it related to all real life examples such as local restaurants in Philadelphia and the secret spot in New York which I now want to go visit. I also enjoyed reading about how certain things work and why they work and how the ideas were discovered like the facts underneath of the Snapple lids and how it improved sales for the company. I really recommend this book for anyone taking an entrepreneurship class and anyone looking to make their product "catch on" it helps you think about all aspects of starting a business/ becoming an entrepreneur.

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