I will start by stating that this book was a reading assignment for my job. I would not have selected this book for myself, nor would I have read the entire book if I had. It also means I would not have read enough to feel comfortable to post such a review. Contagious is a book for those in marketing or related fields which try to sell people things they don't necessarily need. Since I am not in that line of work, I found myself reading it from a very different perspective, that of a consumer who tries not to fall prey to marketing gimmicks or shticks. The author never uses the word gimmick throughout the book which is surprising, since that is what the book is describing from beginning to end. His first strategy is called Social Currency and it is to get people talking about something they consider remarkable, making people feel like insiders and using gaming theory to build excitement. On page 45, the author is describing the success of frequent flyer programs as an example of the gaming theory by describing his own experience in getting caught up in the gimmick "So I did what people do who are so focused on achievening something that they lose their common sense. I paid more money to book a connecting flight." I was both shock and amazed that he would so publicly celebrate his own foolishness at falling for the gimmick. At this point, I wanted to put the book in the burn pile, but since I was required to read it, I turned the page instead. A quick summary of the remainder of the book is that the author plays to those cliche marketing strategies that a good consumer education teacher in high school probably warned you to look out for. If you read between the lines of this book you find them all. "Play to their ego." "Make them believe they are keeping up with the Joneses" and the classic, "He who dies with the most toys wins." If I was to say there was something positive that came from reading this book, it was a good reminder to use common sense as a consumer.
If you are in marketing, you will probably find the book interesting, although there are no new ideas presented. If you are not in marketing remember the proverb "A fool and his money are soon parted" before clicking Add to Cart.