Find out who Jonah Berger is and what he teaches us – WAU

Six ingredients in the right measure and you have a fantastic recipe for your business to obtain quick and exceptional results. With a detail: without investing a lot of money. The recipe for success comes from marketing professor Jonah Berger, from the Wharton School – University of Pennsylvania (USA). The ingredients are: Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value […]

Six ingredients in the right measure and you have a fantastic recipe for your business to obtain quick and exceptional results. With a detail: without investing a lot of money.

The recipe for success comes from marketing professor Jonah Berger, from the Wharton School – University of Pennsylvania (USA). The ingredients are: Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value and Stories.

Now, what matters: how to make this mix work. The answers are in the 224 pages of the bestseller “Contagion – Why things stick”.

In the book, which topped the list of best-selling books, including the New York Times, Professor Ph.D. Jonah Berger gives a marketing class. An indispensable read for professionals in the field and entrepreneurs from all over the world.

A little more about Jonah Berger

“Contagion” and “Power of Influence” are two successful works by Professor Jonah Berger.

His biography also includes dozens of articles in renowned academic magazines, lectures and consultancy for companies of the most varied sizes and segments.

Its clients include the powerful Google, Coca-Cola, GE, Unilever, General Motors, 3M and the Gates Foundation. A team so no one can fail.

Jonah Berger was born in Washington, D.C, in the United States. He graduated from Stanford University in California, which is among the most respected educational institutions in the world.

Jonah Berger’s works have earned him recognition and several awards from teaching and research entities. Among them, the Berry-American Marketing Association, as the best book in marketing (2014).

Simply tempting

For more than 15 years, Jonah Berger has been dedicated to studies on the influence of human and social behavior on the success of a product or an idea.

Why do some things catch on and others just go unnoticed? Why do some online content go viral? And why does word of mouth (buzz) fire only for certain products, ideas and behaviors? What is behind success or failure?

Jonah Berger has the answer. According to him, the secret to popularize a product or an idea is in the message.

In other words, the message is that hint that makes a recipe unique and special. In Jonah Berger’s six-ingredient formula, it is decisive in making products and ideas contagious.

Jonah Berger’s conclusions are tempting: to understand the secret behind a viral and the behavior of people in transmitting some information, generating visibility for the brand and positive impact on sales.


See, now, more details about the six ingredients of the recipe of professor Jonah Berger, that transformed the book Contagion into a best seller in marketing.

1. Social Currency: what we say influences how others see us

The most powerful marketing is personal recommendation. Naturally, we have a desire to share our thoughts, opinions and experiences.

Did you know that 40% of what people say is about their personal experiences and relationships? Don’t think that talking about it is vanity. It is more than vanity. It’s pleasant.

Jonah Berger explains that telling about personal experiences and relationships activates brain circuits that react to rewards, similar to the pleasure of, for example, eating a large piece of a delicious chocolate cake.

But not all personal experiences and relationships become the agenda of the day. People talk about some thoughts more than others.

We tend to share things that make us look more fun, smart and cool. In other words, we need to offer people shareable content that unleash internal notability.

How about an example?

The advertising agency Snapple decided to use the bottle caps to put real facts and strange scientific curiosities that people didn’t know and didn’t know they would like to know.

Do you doubt that Instagram would be full of photos of Snapple caps if the idea was launched ten years later?

2. Triggers: stimuli that encourage people to think about related objects, products or brands.

Marketing is also about spreading love. It is touching on the true enthusiasm for products and services and, consequently, talking naturally about products, brands and organizations all the time.

Talking about brands is almost like breathing. Jonah Berger points out that it is necessary to provide consumers with triggers that are small environmental reminders for related concepts and ideas, to take action.

It looks complicated, but it isn’t! Think of the context in which your target audience is immersed on a daily basis. Think of a message that represents a situation that people who consume or can consume live routinely.

Ready! You linked your brand or product to a stimulus in your consumer’s daily life. Whenever he performs that action, he will remember your brand or product.

Attention: do not link your brand or product to a stimulus already associated with many things. The color red has become irrelevant when associated with several different things, such as romance, fast cars and Coca-Cola.

Walt Disney World is a good example of a trigger. The simple sound of these three words awakens the most varied emotions in anyone. It is a magical world for children, an adventure for young people, a return to childhood for adults and a business class for entrepreneurs.

3. Emotion: when we care, we share! Build your content filled with emotion.

Traditional marketing works with information. Information, purely, does not motivate people to share. Emotions, yes! They connect and strengthen relationships.

In your content, select emotions of high excitement that make people act.

Whether they are positive emotions, which always animate and inspire, showing that people can make a difference, or negative emotions, which cause people to be haunted or angry.

Haunting people is not that difficult. The word haunt may seem negative when it comes to a person, but it is much simpler than it looks.

We can use as an example the winner of the Britain’s Got Talent, Susan Boyle. The old-fashioned clothes, with the appearance of being 20 years older than his real age and the shy way of walking, caused a pejorative and astonishing sensation in the audience.

However, Susan’s voice drove the audience into a frenzy, while she performed perfectly the beautiful track “I dreamed a dream”, which packed the musical Os miserables.

The fact that she was given a standing ovation by the entire audience and the judges proves that awe is an important part of sharing and that haunting people is a positive thing when done well.

Forget sadness. Jonah Berger says that sadness leads to passivity, with 16% less chance of sharing compared to pleasant emotions.

4. Audience: people observe and imitate attitudes.

“The monkey sees, the monkey does.” Often, people imitate those around them. By watching others do some things, people are more likely to do too.

Why does it happen? According to Jonah Berger, our tendency to imitate reduces our uncertainties. We assume that if others are doing it, it must be a good idea. This is one of the principles of viralization and the creation of trends.

This is the case with Hotmail. At that time, an electronic mail service that could be accessed on any machine was a tremendous revolution.

Thus, the social currency soon gained space among users. Whoever used Hotmail liked to talk about the service, as it gave them social status and a certain differentiation among others.

The emails sent by Hotmail had a message in the footer: “Get your free and private email at”. This generated social validation and made users feel good about sending an email containing the message.

Just over a year ago, 8.5 million subscribers and several million dollars more in market value, Microsoft acquired Hotmail for $ 400 million.

The strategy is similar to that adopted by Apple in offering, as a standard email signature, the message “Sent from my iPhone”.

5. Practical Value: people like to help others.

Practical Value Content is content with relevant information that can help other people. We share this content to be useful to others, after all, direct opportunities to help someone are currently rare.

Viral videos are proof that Valor Prático is an important part of winning viewers and sharing word of mouth.

An excellent example is Ken Craig, an 86-year-old man who went viral on a video about husking corn.

The efficient way in which you thresh the ear without the corn’s hair clinging to it made Ken have over 5 million views in your video, which was shared solely and exclusively for presenting a Practical Value.

People like to pass on information that they find useful and practical. Little ones life hacks everyday lives are of extreme Practical Value and very shared by those who want to help others.

Jonah Berger highlights another piece of information with great Practical Value: the offer. By sharing offers, we are helping each other to save money. Highlight the incredible value of the offers, valuing the scarcity and exclusivity, that is, make the offer seem valuable and have limited time to obtain it.

Another trick to make the offer seem irresistible is to apply the Rule of 100. High-value products tend to be better accepted in offers if it is made in percentage and relative values.

As for low value products, the absolute structuring of the discount gives more visibility to the offer and it tends to have greater acceptance.

6. Stories: your idea, product or brand must be involved in a narrative.

Entertain, engage and convey messages. These are the main characteristics of the stories. They have a beginning, a middle and an end, and if the story catches a person at the very beginning, he will want to know everything else.

There are great examples of ideas and stories passed down through several generations without losing the main concept. Jonah Berger cites the Subway sandwich chain that has seven options on its menu with less than six grams of fat.

But the information has no context if it is transmitted without a background. So, you need to build a Trojan Horse for your information, something that makes people look for that reference during a conversation.

An interesting way to do it is to build a narrative, a true storytelling that carries an idea or product together. The controversial campaigns by Benetton or the viruses caused by brands are excellent.

“Build a Trojan Horse loaded with Social Currency, Trigger, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, but don’t forget to hide your message inside it. Attest that the desired information is so embedded in the plot that people cannot tell the story without it ”.

Theory and practice

Jonah Berger’s recipe is filled with examples that prove the effectiveness of its ingredients.

The information is valid for all entrepreneurs, marketers and businesses.

Anyway, the idea is to gather all the ingredients and use the message as the secret that makes your recipe attractive. Make sure your message is so integrated into the mix, so that the “cake” cannot be savored and shared without it.

Pretty cool, isn’t it? Check out the full “Contagion” microbook on the 12Minutos platform!

How about reading now about a success story in entrepreneurship, the case of Elon Musk?

This article was written by the content team at 12Minutos, the platform that selects, reads and summarizes the most important non-fiction books, turning them into microbooks and audiobooks. Download the app now on the Play Store or App Store and good learning!