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Herd: How to Change Mass Behaviour by Harnessing Our True Nature Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (August 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470744596
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470744598
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #651,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


'The PM's advisers would do well to consult the work of Mark Earls, whose book, Herd , explores the extent to which "the physics of mass behaviour" are governed by imitation more often than ideological purpose' Matthew D'Ancona, Evening Standard 'As the riots spread throughout London and the rest of the country, I grabbed for my edition of Herd to see what it held to explain behaviour such as this. Author Mark Earls talks about how people's behaviour can be influenced by a "system that is primed"' Research

From the Back Cover

In 2003, the first white-painted bicycle shrine appeared on the streets of St Louis, Missouri, to commemorate a fallen rider. Soon, cities in other US states had their own versions; but today, we see these shrines in more than 80 cities around the world. Like the ‘cellotaphs’ – the rash of floral tributes that mark the site of road-accidents in the UK with cheap flowers and sentimental prose – this phenomenon seems to have come from nowhere and yet suddenly it is everywhere.

How do you explain the explosion of cultural phenomena of things like this? Like the adoption of text messaging when there has been little or no active promotion of the behaviour? How a Mexican wave happens? The emergence of online communities? Unless you have a good explanation of how these kinds of things arise, you won’t have much chance of altering them.

HERD explains that most of us have misunderstood the mechanics (the ‘how’) of mass behaviour because our thinking is shaped by misplaced notions of what it means to be human. This is why so many government initiatives struggle to create real change, why so much marketing money fails to drive sales, why most M&A programmes end up reducing shareholder value and most internal change projects don’t deliver lasting transformation.

Mark Earls uses a diverse range of different sources, anecdotes and evidence –  from the comic Peter Kay and urinal etiquette, to international rugby and the rise of new musical stars – to show that we are at heart a ‘we-species’, but one suffering from the ‘illusion of I’. In doing so, Earls challenges some of our deepest ideas to reveal the truth about who we are and what marketers, managers and governments can do to set about influencing mass behaviour. Bold in its conception and engaging in its execution, HERD offers the most radical new theory of consumer behaviour in a generation.

This revised and updated edition articulates the provocative but highly practical model of mass behaviour and encourages the reader to put it to work in their organization and work, but more fundamentally, it changes how each of us sees ourselves and those around us: to see ourselves as first and foremost social creatures who do what we do in the company (and under the influence of others).

‘If you’re not practicing what Mark Earls is preaching, get comfortable being part of the back of the pack.  There are few who understand the human like Mark does!’
Robert Barocci, President/CEO, The Advertising Research Foundation

‘HERD is that rare thing: a book that transforms the reader’s perception of how the world works. Mark Earls has mapped out the behavioural patterns of the post-millennial landscape with gripping accuracy and come as close as anyone to explaining why we do the things that we do, the way that we do them. An indispensable manual for the Web 2.0 era.’
Matthew d’Ancona, The Spectator

‘HERD is a must read. These days, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the speed at which the world is changing. Mark Earls is one of those extraordinary folks that provides context and makes meaning of these changes. With HERD, Mark opens our eyes to a new way of thinking about human behaviour and how it will affect your business.’
John Winsor, Crispin Porter Bogusky

‘This book is a must. Once you have read it you will understand why Mark Earls is regarded as a marketing guru. And you will feel as though you understand the world a great deal better. And the other reason you have to read it? Everyone else is.’
Daniel Finkelstein, The Times

‘This book has a vital place in the fast-growing library of books seeking to find newer, more accurate models of human behaviour. Just like rational agency, it seems individual agency may have been dangerously overrated.  The implications of this stretch far beyond any one discipline or field of activity.’
Rory Sutherland, IPA President, Vice-Chairman Ogilvy UK

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Adrian Ho on May 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Recently, books like The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell or the Influentials by Jon Berry and Ed Keller, have captured the imagination of marketers and the public alike. It's easy to see why. They propose a tidy and believable model of influence.

1.) There are some people who are more influential.

2.) If we can just reach them, we can influence large numbers of people.

Accepted as gospel, these two ideas have spawned entirely new industries and companies devoted towards creating "viral marketing."

Happily for all of us, things just don't work that way. Brand spanking new research from P&G and Duncan Watts is serving as confirmation of Mark's thesis: it is our innate nature as "herd" animals that causes mass movements, not the influence of a handful of individuals.

This simple little insight overturns much of what we currently think about and how we approach marketing. If you're serious about creating real movements in the new marketing landscape you simply have to read this book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Gareth Kay on July 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've just finished reading Herd. Actually, I devoured it in two sittings. And I urge you to go and read it if you want to think about how to better trigger changes in mass behaviour.
Unlike most business or marketing books it's not a set of case studies or a 'how to' process guide to mechanistic thinking.
Rather, it's an excellently written analysis of the new thinking (and the forgotten old thinking) about how people think, act and behave. It doesn't give you answers or tell you what to do, but rather raises questions in your mind about the principles on which most communications thinking is built.
Already, it's made me question a lot of the assumptions I have been taking for granted, made me think differently about some of the problems I'm trying to solve and helped me ground some of the different thinking I've been doing over the last couple of years.
Whether you agree with all the conclusions or not, we need more stuff like this that brings fresh, challenging, provocative thinking into the far too conservative world of marketing and communications.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By V. Holmes on February 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book. Mark Earls combines a light, at times playful style of writing with good ideas and a refreshingly well researched investigation. In this way, Herd is as Russell Davies suggests, a pleasant change from the many marketing books that are little more than "very long business cards".

Earls investigates market behavior from the position that we humans are first and foremost social beings. He does this by drawing on a wide range of well referenced resources stemming from ethology, biology, anthropology, marketing studies and so on.

On the background of this data Earls suggests that if marketers want to be truly effective they will need to start thinking about how people naturally influence one another. This rather than how marketers have tended to think that they are able to exert influence over those they narrowly think of as consumers. He proposes that this implies a shift from direct relationship marketing (where the lines of communication exist between company and customer) to citizen to citizen marketing (where the company creates opportunities for people to interact with one another). You need only consider the popularity of social media like myspace and facebook to realize why this approach makes sense.

In addition, Earls' work provides a good counter position to the current buzz around neuromarketing, which claims to be able to understand more about consumer behavior by examining individual brains. As Earls suggests, while this is all good and well - it may miss the point by neglecting to consider the influence of others on our behavior.

Thoroughly enjoyable!
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By The Dutch Beholder on October 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Yes, we all like reading something that gives us 'inside' information. Uhhhhhmmmmm...indeed.... info that makes us feel a little bit more suffisticated and maybe even a little better than other people around us (don't feel bad about this). PopSci books about behavioural-science, -marketing and -finance etc give us such a feeling. And this feeling sells books, something that people Malcolm Gladwell and Nassim Taleb and alikes know all to well. And that's okay as long as we still learn something from the book. However, reading about the Milligram expirement for the 1000's time did not make me happy or thought me anything. Reading about social conformation etc for the 1500's time did not either. Without going into detail I would advise people to look for a summary of this book on the net. Safe your self a few extra bucks and precious time(or Euro's in my case). Summary is worth the time and the money in my view so I rate this book with 3 stars. For newbees I would advise to first read Robert Caldini (I sure as **** know Mark Earl did so too).
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kim C. on February 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
it has a few good ideas and some nice examples. But the writing was nothing exciting, and the whole thing could have been said in a magazine article.
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