Why Things Catch On …..


These are some of margin notes and snippets from the book  Contagious Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

  • Did you know that frowning burns more calories than smiling? That an ant can lift fifty times its own weight? You probably didn’t. But people share these and similar Snapple facts because they are remarkable. And talking about remarkable things provides social currency.
  • Often we’re not even trying to exaggerate; we just can’t recall all the details of the story. Our memories aren’t perfect records of what happened. They’re more like dinosaur skeletons patched together by archeologists. We have the main chunks, but some of the pieces are missing, so we fill them in as best we can. We make an educated guess.
  • The key to finding inner remarkability is to think about what makes something interesting, surprising, or novel.
  • People don’t just care about how they are doing, they care about their performance in relation to others.
  • Scarcity and exclusivity help products catch on by making them seem more desirable. Foursquare doesn’t pay users to check in to bars, and airlines don’t give discounts to frequent flier members.
  • Pathfinder’s destination? Mars. Mars bars are named after the company’s founder, Franklin Mars, not the planet. But the media attention the planet received acted as a trigger that reminded people of the candy and increased sales. Perhaps the makers of Sunny Delight should encourage NASA to explore the sun.
  • When French music was playing, most customers bought French wine. When German music was playing most customers bought German wine. By triggering consumers to think of different countries, the music affected sales. By triggering consumers to think of different countries, the music affected sales. The music made ideas related to those countries more accessible, and those accessible ideas spilled over to affect behavior.
  • So rather than just going for a catchy message, consider the context. Think about whether the message will be triggered by the everyday environments of the target audience. Going for interesting is our default tendency. Whether running for class president or selling soda, we think that catchy or clever slogans will get us where we need to go.
  • As we discussed, one key factor is how frequently the stimulus occurs. Hot chocolate would also have fitted really well with Kit Kat, and the sweet beverage might have even complemented the chocolate bar’s flavor better than coffee.
  • Compare that with how many people think “jelly” when you say “peanut butter” and it will be clear why stronger, more unusual links are better. Linking a product or idea with a stimulus that is already associated with many things isn’t as effective as forging a fresher, more original link.
  • Triggers and cues lead people to talk, choose, and use. Social currency gets people talking, but Triggers keep them talking. Top of mind means tip of tongue.
  • In their wonderful book Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath talk about using the “Three Whys” to find the emotional core of an idea. Write down why you think people are doing something. Then ask “Why is this important?” three times. Each time you do this, note your answer, and you’ll notice that you drill down further and further toward uncovering not only the core of an idea, but the emotion behind it.
  • Because shirts are public and socks are private. They’re harder to see.
  • A simple way to figure out which discount frame seems larger is by using something called the Rule of 100.
  • Useful information, then, is another form of practical value. Helping people do things they want to do, or encouraging them to do things they should do. Faster, better, and easier.
  • Piper’s video, entitled “Evolution,” gives a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into making the images we are bombarded with every day. It reminds people that these stunning-looking women are not real. They are fantasies, fictions only loosely based on actual people.

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