Now I'm getting the chance to read books I didn't have time for before. Think of me whenever you see the slogan "So many books, so little time!" Now I've got the time.  Cheers, Fred.

Contagious: Why Things Catch On

Book Number: 
Date Fred Read: 
September 2017
Fred's Rating: 
Jonah Berger
Total Pages: 
Simon Schuster

Jonah Berger is a Marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also the author of Invisible Influence. Contagious is a NYT bestseller. I was told I would enjoy Contagious.

The Amazon website for this paperback edition is

[None of the ISBN-10, ISBN-13, or ASIN numbers on Amazon’s websites for the three editions (Kindle, hardcover, or paperback) are recognized by Amazon, thus the ‘no image Circle' appears. I think this new change by Amazon is not good. However, you can see the images of this books' covers at the website above.]

The home page has a good review (click on ‘Read more'). I recommend using Amazon’s ‘Look inside’ option and scroll down to the 2-pp Contents, which, as I very much like to see, has detailed subtopics listed for The Introduction, the Epilogue and the six numbered chapters. The six numbered chapters each contain details of one of the topics in his acronym STEPPS, which respectively are Social currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical value, and Stories. The author says these six are principles that make marketing an item a sure thing. Note the phrases in italics in the Contents, which are short phrases that are the main points of his STEPPS. The 27-pp Introduction gives a few examples of cases which led his to these six principles. A few pages are not included in the paperback edition’s Introduction, but there is enough there for a reader to ‘get the message’ of why he chose these six principles. There are many more examples in the six numbered chapters – each includes some cases where marketing the product was a failure because the marketing did not follow the ‘principle’ of that chapter.

The Epilogue has two tables. The first simply lists the phrases in italics in the 2-pp Contents. This short table is followed two pages later with a full-page table that contains more details – questions and statements. Here I give the six principles with his comments to help make marketing a product successful.

  • Social Currency: Does talking about your product or idea make people look good? Can you find the inner remarkability? Leverage game mechanics? Make people feel like insiders?
  • Triggers: Consider the context. What cues make people think about your product or idea? How can you grow the habitat and make it come to mind more often?
  • Emotion: Focus on feelings. Does talking about your product or idea generate emotion? How can you kindle the fire?
  • Public: Does your product or idea advertise itself? Can people see when others using it? If not, how can you create behavioral residue that sticks around even after people use it?
  • Practical Value: Does talking about your product or idea help people help others? How can you highlight incredible value, packaging your knowledge and expertise into useful information others will want to disseminate?
  • Stories: What is your Trojan Horse? Is your product or idea embedded in a broader narrative that people want to share? Is the story not only viral, but also valuable?

The last sentence of the Epilogue is “Throughout this book we’ve discussed cutting-edge science about how word of mouth and social influences work. If you follow these six key STEPPS, you can make any product or idea contagious.” By my mind, he should have said ‘cutting-edge marketing’ instead of “cutting-edge science.”

Since I am a scientist and a seeker of wisdom and spiritual growth, I am not interested in marketing a product or idea by making people desire it because of words, pictures or stories by a cutting-edge marketer has led them to want the product. Several of the stories (successful cases, especially) are interesting and enjoyable to read. I can see where a few of his principles could be useful to me, so I rate this book at three stars.