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Book Review Example: Contagious by Jonah Berger

8 pages
1973 words
Carnegie Mellon University
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Book review
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Author's Biography

Dr. Jonah Berger is a professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania and an author of marketing books. He is a writer who writes for prominent papers such as the New York Times and Harvard business review. Dr. Berger has also helped my companies adopt business ideas that have promoted their product in the market. He equally holds over 15 years experience in studying social behavior in regards to marketing. Dr. Berger provides an author of bestselling books such as why things catch on and the hidden force that shapes behavior. These are marketing books that are based on behavior and how people react to products in the market. Dr. Berger is an academic marketing professor where many business writing papers have published his work over a long time. Dr. Berger focuses on how people make decisions and the behavior patterns of people in taking new ideas. His writings are mostly focused on the human social behavior to develop great marketing skills on product selling. The marketing professor has written on how online marketing works and how to attracts people's attention with a company's product. He is also a linked to marketing influencer. He mostly writes on psychology and human behavior in decision making. Dr. Berger is qualified in his word of mouth in convincing, internet marketer and influencer and also an academic expert in matters of human behavior and business marketing. Through his work, he has been able to help start-up businesses and growing companies gain ground in selling their products.

Book summary

Jonah Berger, a marketing professor, examines ways in which to make a message go viral in the marketing of products in his book Contagious. His focus on the book is on the cues that make the message go viral and promotes the product. In Contagious, Jonah Berger focuses on the marketing message than the product. He analyses the social behavior that messages evoke in people that promote the market value of the product. He says that in his ideal marketing strategies, it does not take a bug budget cut or a generous to implement and make the product contagious. His approach is influenced by the human social behavior to like the product and make the message about it viral. He is of the opinion that the branding of the product to appeal to the human eye does not matter instead of the message that is used to sell the product. Someone would wonder if the author is making his book sell or sharing the marketing ideas the way that the book is crafted. It suits a marketing strategist who focuses on the message in his marketing strategies. His views are contagious just like the title of the book itself.

In contagious, Dr. Berger has analyzed a marketing strategy that makes the message about the product contagious. He gives a six-point policy which should be the focus in creating a product contagious. He provides the key points on things that catch on that is summarized as STEPPS, if appropriately followed the product can be contagious and go viral to the world. The things that pass on include; social currency, triggers, emotions, public, practical value and stories (STEPPS). The author of the book says that if these points are focused on by the marketers can catch on the minds of the people. These are the key areas to focus on in crafting of messages that are expected to sell. The writer goes on to analyze each point and give examples of successful and unsuccessful marketing messages have been put up before. Dr. Berger focuses on the social behavior and the psychological cues that catch the people mind.

Each point of the STEPPS is analyzed in a manner that supports his contagious formula on things that are spread and sell. The first point is in making products to spread in marketing is giving the product social currency. Social currency determines whether a product will spread and be contagious. In achieving this one has to make something that is interesting and gives social credibility to people. Most people like to share something that raises their social status and gives them credibility. Jonah Berger says to achieve social currency; the product should be interesting, distinct and attractive to a social setting. This will promote more sharing people and make the product viral. The second point on his strategy is to focus on triggers; he says that triggers makes product contagious and makes it trend to a significant number. By crafting marketing messages, one should focus on the real issues that cause people spread the message through a word of mouth or the internet. The triggers in a social setting are issues that are associated with the day to day life like music. The author says that these triggers provoke a conversation that spreads wide and large making a product well known and sell. The third is based on emotional care that causes sharing. According to study behavior study, people are prompted to share things that they feel emotionally attached. In making marketing messages that one seeks to be viral and shared among many, one should give emotional attachments to the messages. According to Dr. Berger, the messages should focus on showing how excellent the product is. They should show the reason the product is considered essential. People will share the message and become viral. All these steps are not expensive in adopting and implementing in marketing.

Dr. Berger goes further to use psychological play in the book to give the other three points which makes marketing successful. The fourth point is public, where marketing messages should focus on public involvement. This is where people are provoked to copy and emulation, the public likes to share things that challenge them. The message should emulate what the public behavior in doing things. This will make more people share the messages on products and make the marketing messages viral. The fifth point was about the practical value; these are things that are simple to do. One should share things that are practically possible to adopt and emulate. The focus on this is not shared things that are complicated or not understandable by many. In marketing, the messages should be simple and straightforward for ease of use. The last point in STEPPS is stories. This is where a word shared should be a captivating narrative form. Sometimes things that people like sharing involve experiences that come up with the use of a product. When we share this experiences in a story form makes the marketing messages trend and contagious among people.

To emphasize on the social transmission, Jonah Berger gives examples of the successful and unsuccessful marketing strategies. In his submissions, he shows that strong messages are focused on the social conversations that take place between people every day. During these discussions, one can use the social behavior exhibited to market their product. He gives an example of a successful cancer awareness campaign that spread to many countries and led to raising of $174 million through a request to grow mustaches to raise prostate cancer awareness. He also gives of unsuccessful antismoking awareness. This advertisement even made more teens experiment in the act of smoking. However, in examples, he does not show the results of how these marketing advertisements succeeded or failed. Jonah Berger gives the cues to focus on in the marketing of products and be able to gain popularity through concentrating on the discussed social principles of STEPPS.

Critical analysis

Personal reactions

This book is well organized and written straightforwardly that a reader can understand the intentions of this book in marketing strategies and social behavior. The writer of the book gives a clear framework of his research process which is more convincing to the reader of the book contagious. Dr. Jonah Berger has explained each of his points clearly and simply for any reader to understand his concepts in consumer behavior. He is well organized in putting his ideas into a book which is showed by the step to step explanation of each point he makes. The general setting of this book is based on research and not hypothesized conclusions. The writer uses supportive evidence to show his line of thinking while writing this book. To the best of knowledge, the author has good intentions and understands the audience of his book.

The general idea of marketing is based on consumer behavior in which Jonah Berger focuses on the social behavior of people. He focuses on the concept of information sharing to promote a product as a way of good marketing in his thoughts he has provided an excellent research work which has generated his opinions on the best strategies of marketing. He has applied his psychological and marketing knowledge together in writing this book of contagious. He is keen to stick to the script on the things that make people want to share in their day to day conversations. The best tool for marketing is sharing the information on the products. In a social setting most information is spread on word of mouth or in writing which is circulated through the internet. Jonah Berger intends to show how marketers can take advantage of this social behavior in marketing their products. He focuses on how to make the product be known to as many people as people through sharing. This is the general of contagious, where he goes on to identify key things that make things catch on summarized as STEPPS.

Strengths of the book

The strengths of this book are seen in the research process, and the knowledge showed in addressing the audience of the book by Berger. Berger uses a wide of research materials to explain how communication in marketing is based on the consumer behavior. The plot of this book is clear and unequivocal in it is flow. Berger through the research knowledge submits his thoughts in a well-organized manner in the book. He does not beat around the bush; instead, he is straightforward in writing his book. He explains his ideas in a flowing style where he supports each with evidence. He shows strong cues in his research methods since he gives examples for each point he makes. It is therefore easy for the reader to understand the writers thinking without struggling.

Berger has summarized his social marketing principles in a simple way called STEPPS; social currency, triggers, emotions, public, practical value, and stories. To derive his point and make his ideas known he has used each of this point as a chapter of his book which has given Berger the opportunity to share his research to support his thinking in each idea. At every point discussed in the book, Berger has given examples and evidence to support each point. Through this, he has shown an excellent research framework which has been used to develop and bring this idea into writing. This book focuses on changing the reader's perspective on marketing ways through communication and study of social behavior. Dr. Berger has been able to conjoin psychology and marketing knowledge in his research that has been used in writing this book.


In reading this book, one can see some shortcomings of the writer in putting his ideas into writing. Although there is evidence of adequate research, Berger has negated from the use of statistical data in support of his examples he has a purpose. The book is more of an academic research work which tackles specific issues rather than the focus of the general idea of marketing. This book has deviated from other articles published by the writer in which he shows his business mind through psychology studies. He has picked small research insights in writing this book; he has not used in-depth, detailed research to support his work. In a book that is targeting a significant number o...

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