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The Influentials: One American in Ten Tells the Other Nine How to Vote, Where to Eat, and What to Buy Hardcover – January 13, 2003

3.8 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

There's a group of people, Keller and Berry posit, who are responsible for driving trends, influencing mass opinion and, most importantly, selling a great many products. These are the Influentials, the early adopters who had a digital camera before everyone else and who were the first to fly again after September 11. Like Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point), these authors are keen to point out a common phenomenon and spin it for the edification of marketing executives. Their assertion is that 10% of Americans determine how the rest consume and live by chatting about their likes and dislikes. Keller and Berry spend most of the book bolstering their theory with extensive findings from Roper polls (both authors work for Roper). Following this is a suggested plan of action for capturing Influentials' interest, with suggestions on how to target them, how to sell and even how to treat them in a customer service setting. Being an Influential today is similar to being a Vanderbilt in a bygone era: "[T]he company should invite them in and engage them in a conversation... and keep tabs on them in the weeks that follow." Because its points are so concrete and straightforward, the book should have little trouble finding adherents who want to woo such a powerful consumer base. Keller and Berry's theories are compelling and exceedingly well researched, and should be a boon to anyone looking to promote the next big thing.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Veterans of RoperASW, Keller and Berry based their first book on decades of research through the Roper Polls. Their findings suggest that one in ten people affects the way everyone else thinks via word of mouth. Presenting profiles of 12 such "Influentials" along with results of the polls, the authors argue that the most influential people in America are often everyday people, folks in one's own neighborhood who are active in civics, charities, and religious institutions. The premise is that marketers who understand these dynamics can focus their resources on these individuals in order to influence everyone else. Though the authors support their arguments with an impressive array of statistics, provided in minute detail to substantiate the premise, a much more lively discussion of a similar theme can be found in Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point. Clearly targeted toward practicing marketing professionals and business executives, this book is appropriate for libraries with specialized collections, such as those in business schools and advertising/PR agencies.
Stephen Turner, Turner & Assocs., San Francisco
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Edition edition (January 13, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743227298
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743227292
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,259,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a truly awful book. I was initially excited to hear about this book and bought it the week it was released. But after having spent many painful hours drudging through the 300+ pages of endless tables and graphs, I can safely say that my excitement was displaced by great disappointment.
Problems with this book:
1) The framework is misleading. The "Influentials" are in fact "activists," as they are defined by their propensity to be politically active.
2) The analysis is weak. The authors' ability in data analysis seems to be restricted to reporting percentages. This makes for an extremely dull read consisting of table after table of percentages.
3) The authors have utterly failed to convince me that these people are truly influential. Page 146 basically proves how "uninfluential" this group of people truly is.
4) The insights are thin. Quotes from the book include such penetrating statements as "Based on this Influential trendline, the online audience will likely continue to grow" and "we expect e-commerce to grow" (both quotes on page 166). Well, at least the authors have a firm grasp of the obvious.
5) Aside from being misleading and uninteresting, the material is simply poorly written. I often had the feeling that there was no editor involved in the creation of this book.
Bottom line: don't waste your time with this book. There are simply far too many good alternative choices on the subject.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For one simple, powerful reason THE INFLUENTIALS stands head and shoulders above the field in the marketing trends book sweepstakes. Its insights are based on data, long-term empirical data, judiciously considered. Facts. Numbers. A real departure from most books about the American consumer which base their hypotheses, and thus their recommendations, on anecdotes, renovated B-school doctrine, all plumped up with a few chunks of data culled willy nilly from any variety of sources. (Has anybody else noticed that the same warmed-over statistics show up again and again in the most marketing books? Shall we blame the Internet and Lexis/Nexis searches for this sudden homogeneity?). THE INFLUENTIALS, on the other hand, shares primary research data on the American consumer going back 30 years or more. Berry's and Keller's insights and recommendations are shaped by the evolving opinions of Americans. The horse is before the cart where the horse belongs.
Interspersed with the data and trend analysis, Berry and Keller introduce in mini-bios to actual Influentials. These particularly well-written sections serve to embody the data, (the data sections can get a little overwhelming at times) and show us how an Influential lives, thinks and leads. Most are local community leaders, or have real involvement in their communities, and and as such are the nodes of wide personal networks. They are the people who get things done, the people to whom others look to for advice or counsel. By the way, over the years, about 10% of Americans have ?qualified? by their behavior to be counted as Influentials.
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Format: Hardcover
The Influetials is either just a big statistical blob or I missed something. Keller et al start out by describing the influential as someone who other people in the community kind of look toward. They are very socially connected and respected. There is no doubt in my mind that the proposition that one in ten people has a huge influence on how the other nine think, however instead of exploring the social patterns Keller et al try to define that person whom they call an "Influential" They begin by saying in the first chapter that statistics can't pinpoint an influential and then spend most of the book tossing statistics on influentials at the reader - lots of tables that don't tell me anything.

One thing that I found interesting were the case studies scattered through the book. Basically these were mini-biographies of influentials slanted more towards what they were up to at the moment. Even these weren't all that helpful.

I recommend skipping The Influentials. The title is really good but the book doesn't focus or do much to back it up. Actually things just get muddled. The Tipping Point by Malcome Gladwell has a good bit of discussion about who influences opinions and how. Check that out instead.
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Format: Hardcover
I read a fair number of business books in a given year, and The Influentials is perhaps the best I�ve read in a very long time. The book is an in-depth examination of that segment of Americans--influentials, early adopters, trend setters, pick your label--marketers drool over. After reading this book, I feel I really have new insights into who these people are, what makes them tick, and what drives their purchasing decisions, among other things.
The book sets itself apart in a number of ways. It is grounded in fact, based largely on findings from real research (the authors work for RoperASW, a large marketing research company), not on some fashionable and disposable management theory. At the same time, it is very well written: clear, jargon-free, practical, and fun to read. Also, throughout the book the authors profile real-life �Influentials� to illustrate their points, which adds a nice human touch so often missing from business books. The authors really know their stuff and synthesize an amazing amount of information into a cohesive, engaging narrative.
Highly recommended to marketers who want to reach a desirable segment of the public, and to anyone else interested in consumer trends.
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