Contagious: Why Things Catch On Review and Notes

Contagious: Why Things Catch On – On Amazon


General Summary: 

I really liked this book. It tells you about interesting facts on marketing strategies and how they work. Each backed with a study either conducted already or one they conducted. It makes you realize there is a reasoning behind some of the tactics employed in marketing and how things become viral. I would recommend a read / listen to the audio-book (the Narrator is really good and he 100% makes me hungry when he describes food).

Cool Facts, Notes & Details from the book:

1. Word of Mouth is about 93% of discussion, where as the other 7% is online. Study here (Keller Fay Group).

2. Blendtec  – it’s ‘viral’ spot was blending random things – which at the time was unheard of. It made a point to prove that its blenders are strong. You can see some of their videos here.



3.  Social Influence Marketing:

  • Inner Remark-ability: Something involved with the product gives the person value, that value they feel like sharing as soon as possible. The example given was the Snapple lid – underneath it was an interesting fact you wanted to share with someone. So the moment you open the lid, and you see the fact – you want to tell someone as soon as you could.
  • Game Mechanics: something we are probably all familiar with. Example given was the frequent flyer system, and how a significant number of people do not use their points. Foursquare does a similar thing with checking in to places and ‘badges’.
  • Feel like insiders: When we are on the ‘inside’ with knowledge, we feel better. Given exclusive invites,  people want to join because they didn’t have access before. You can actually see this in action on the example business (RueLala) which prompts you to give an email for exclusive discounts. The most interesting part of the example was the comparison to it’s previous business model – which was the exact same thing but without the exclusive invite. I.e. RueLala was the same as something called SmartBuy (made by the same person) but one offered exclusive invitations only – still selling the same thing!

4. Triggers

There are two key word of mouth methods – immediately, or ongoing things in conversations. An interesting example was the increase sale in Mars Bars when the successful landing of Mars on the moon. The” Wassup” ad from BudWeiser was a great example of people using a common trigger to remind people of BudWeiser. Essentially – a trigger will remind the person of the product, and consequently trigger a possible call to action.


BudWeiser “Wassup” advertisement

5. Emotions

  • When we care, we share!
  • Awe – Something that AWES us makes us want to share.
  • Sadness – emotional connection allows us to underscore our similarity in relationships. So something we find sad, and someone else finds sad will build upon the relationship.
  • Anger/Anxiety – it arouses us, blood pressure rises. They did a study which showed that those who exercised before hand would have a more likely chance to share. The book had a great example involving United Airlines and the incident involving breaking of a singers guitar. He wrote a song and people happily shared it because they felt the same with their service. (Stock price at the time fell by 10%).
United Breaks Guitars - a video to drop shares by 10%?

United Breaks Guitars – a video to drop shares by 10%?

6. Observability

A sense of a social proof – monkey see, monkey do. People like to conform to what other people are doing. Apple’s logo is standing up correctly when they open the laptop. The line is long – people happily wait. Canned laughter exists because people are more likely to laugh because the sound is there. Money in a tip jar – people are more likely to tip because there is money there. (many examples in the book – these were just a few.)

The Apple Logo is up - social proof?

The Apple Logo is up – social proof?

7. Practical Value – News others can use. If you can give practical advice to others – it cements a relationship.

8. On sale – the sale tag can increase demand for a product even without a sale. The bigger the number can be, the better it is – for example, 30% off a product is better than $2 off.

9. Stories are great – so bring a Trojan Horse. A story allows us to bring up a product without sounding like an advertisement. We are following a great story so much, we forget what’s actually being told to us. So make a good story!

That Exit Story though….

I was really surprised with the final story. It answered the question why so many Vietnamese people own Nail Salons!

It started with Tippi Hedren, an actress in several of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies in the 1960s. She was also an international relief coordinator, and she was working with Vietnamese women in a refugee camp near Sacramento when several of the girls admired her long glossy nails. She had a manicurist who would come down to the camp and teach her techniques to the women. One of the new students, Thuan Le, who started with nothing but clothes on her back, would get free classes and hatch a new plan. Nail Salons would appear, success stories would come and the rest is history.

Contagious: Why Things Catch On – On Amazon

I hope my Contagious: Why Things Catch on Review Helped! Great Book! Worth a read.