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Herd: How to Change Mass Behaviour by Harnessing Our True Nature Paperback – August 7, 2009
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From the Back Cover
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
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
HERD is a fun, awe-inspiring outing. It whisks you through the realms of communications theory, behavioral science, anthropology, ethnography and psychology, entertaining as it goes, while stealthily, cleverly, meticulously building the case for a wholsesale rethinking of the business of changing mass behavior.
I've worked as an account planner for over 20 years, and no other business book has caused me so fundamentally to reconsider how I do my job. I'd recommend it to anyone starting out in advertising today. (Read it now before you pick up bad habits!)
HERD is solidly and imaginatively researched, brilliantly written and, best of all, mercifully short on glib rules, but long on provocation and inspiration.
A genuine tour de force!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Does a good job of pointing out the flaw in individualist thinking.
Interesting at points. Boring at points. Misanthropic throughout.
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.Published on February 13, 2013 by Kim C.
It was interesting to work with you. I long to work with you even in the near future. best regardsPublished on July 3, 2012 by pkomot
"Herd" is a significant book for anyone in the marketing profession. Although I am glad that I did not read it when it first came out, instead having gotten caught up in other... Read morePublished on December 15, 2009 by Randall J. Lippincott