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BW Businessworld

Book Review: Shaping Behaviour

Written in a simple format, the book unveils the secret of how many things influence us though we are not aware of their presence

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You walk into a bookstore, notice some words shining in the background on the cover. You pick the book to read the text on the cover, trying to focus on the words in the background — which reads ‘Buy This Book’ — instead of reading the name of the book or the name of the author, which one would do normally. It is only later that you look at the title, author and other details on the cover page. Just as the text in the background suggests you also have an urge to buy the book. This whole process of subtly luring the customer into buying a product is the crux of Jonah Berger’s Invisible Influence.

The choices we make, right from what to eat, what to wear, which movie to watch, to bigger and lifechanging decisions such as where to study or which city to live in, are the cumulative effect of the invisible influences of various factors. The factors could be an ad in the newspaper, or a review about certain event by an acquaintance. We never realise the influence of our surroundings, as it is camouflaged and we end up thinking all the decisions we take is our brainchild!

Berger is a marketing professor at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and has spent over 15 years studying how social influence works. He has also published several articles in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, among others, and is the author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On (2013). Berger writes about how word of mouth is ten times more effective than advertising in Contagious.

In Invisible Influence, Berger effectively illustrates how social influence works and that the best marketing strategy is to let the customer decide without him/her getting to know that he/she is being influenced by anyone.

Written in a simple format, the book unveils the secret of how many things influence us though we are not aware of their presence. This insight also reveals the secret as to how some people attain super success though their work seems quite ordinary, how the social influence works and how similarity also influences liking and acceptance in many cases.

Understanding the invisible influences can be a key factor for those who deal in selling a product.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Aparna Tadimety

The author is a freelance contributor

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