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




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

Mark Earls

ISBN: 978-0-470-74459-8 July 2009 424 Pages


"...fascinating. Like Malcolm Gladwell on speed."

"HERD is a rare thing: a book that transforms the reader's perception of how the world works".
—Matthew D'Ancona, THE SPECTATOR

"This book is a must. Once you have read it you will understand why Mark Earls is regarded as a marketing guru."
—Daniel Finkelstein, THE TIMES

This paperback version of Mark Earls' groundbreaking and award winning book comes updated with new stats and figures and provides two completely revised chapters that deal with the rise of social networking.

Since the Enlightenment there has been a very simple but widely held assumption that we are a species of thinking individuals and human behaviour is best understood by examining the psychology of individuals. It appears, however, that this insight is plain wrong. The evidence from a number of leading behavioural and neuroscientists suggests that our species is designed as a herd or group animal. Mark Earls applies this evidence to the traditional mechanisms of marketing and consumer behaviour, with a result that necessitates a complete rethink about these subjects.

HERD provides a host of unusual examples and anecdotes to open the mind of the business reader, from Peter Kay to Desmond Tutu, Apple to UK Sexual Health programmes, George Bush to Castle Lager, from autism to depression to the real explanation for the placebo effect in pharmaceutical testing.

Dedication v

About the Author xvi

Foreword by Russell Davies xvii

Notes on Paperback edition xxi

Introduction 1

At the 'cellotaph' 1

Ghostbikes 4

So how are we to explain this kind of thing? 4

Bigger boys made me do it 5

A book about mass behaviour 7

Mass behaviour is hard to change 7

Bad theory, bad plan. Better theory? Better plan? 9

Old news? 10

I and the other 10

Market research and me 11

We're all individuals – I'm not 12

Understanding the how not just the what? 13

What the book will cover 14

How to use this book 17

Part One: A 'We-Species' with an illusion of 'I'

1: The Super-Social Ape 21

Tea and kindness 23

Advertising works 24

Even more advertising works 25

We want to be together 26

Say what you see 28

A we-species 29

Are we stardust? 30

The successful ape 31

Homo or Pan? 32

When I grow up 33

Primates are social 34

Why the naked ape? 35

Sexuality 36

The infant ape 36

So why naked then? 39

The brain of a social ape par excellence 39

How others shape us 41

How we make each other unhappy 42

The social brain 43

The sound of the crowd 44

The empathetic ape 45

Language and stroking 46

The loneliness of autism 47

Collaboration: the keys to the kingdom 50

Self-interest and collaboration 51

Game on 51

Game over and over 52

Collaboration across the nation? 53

Learning from each other? 54

How collaboration built the world 55

Shirts – the work of many hands 56

Summary of this chapter 57

Questions to ponder 57

Questions and issues for marketers 58

2: The Illusion of 'I' 59

Pepper's ghost 62

What does Pepper's ghost tell us? 63

I woke up this morning . . . 64

What it is – oh, I forgot 65

Eternal sunshine and spotless minds 66

False memories 66

Monkey see 68

Lazy minds 69

Don't think too hard 71

Retelling the story 72

The big when 73

The illusion of consciousness 75

Depression and the distorted self 78

Treatments 79

Summary of this chapter 81

Issues arising 82

Questions and implications for marketers 82

3: 'I' vs. 'Us' 85

Yes we can 87

Travelling for real 89

Beware Greeks 91

Ubuntu 92

Peace and reconciliation 93

Wo die Zitronen blühn 95

Studying consumer tribal behaviour 97

Beyond marketing 97

Far from the madding crowds 98

The politics of 'I' 100

The collective mind 100

No such thing as society 102

Is the rest of the world so wrong? 102

'I' ideology 103

How social psychology got individualized 104

'I' research 105

Expert opinion 106

Heroes and villains, and other individuals 108

Unhappy feet? 108

The curious tale of curious George 109

What this chapter has demonstrated 110

Some questions 111

Issues for marketers arising from this chapter 111

Part Two: The Seven Principles of Herd Marketing

4: Key Principle No. 1: Interaction 115

At the market 117

At the urinal 118

In the lecture theatre 121

Complexity vs. complicated 122

Complexity as a way of seeing the world 123

Interactive animals 124

Interactive humans 125

Back to the football 126

Learning from the Mexican wave 127

At the offi ce 128

Meanwhile, somewhere in Aberdeen 129

Summary so far 130

Every day, every day, in every way . . . 130

Crime and punishment 132

New York, New York 133

The physics of crime 135

More crime, less physics 136

Crims, saints and fl oaters 137

Fighting on the beaches (and in the suburbs) 139

The facts 139

Analysis 141

What to do about such riots 143

Markets and interaction 143

Behavioural markets 145

The challenge for market research 146

Issues arising 147

Implications and questions for marketing and business 147

5: Key Principle No. 2: Infl uence 151

Saturday night's all right 153

Faces in the crowd 154

1-2-3-4 . . . 155

Brainwashing 156

Brainwashing and conformity 156

Parallel lines 157

Fear and needles 158

Hands together, please 159

The placebo effect 160

What do you do to me? 161

Stupid boy 162

Marky Mark is not Infl uential 163

Why one-to-one is wrong 164

Charidee, my friends 165

Relation-canoes 165

Relationships redux 166

Channel tunnel vision 167

From you to me to me and everyone I know 168

Getting over yourself 169

More infl uence 170

The Milgram experiment 171

Let the tapes roll 172

How good people do bad things 173

Born unequal? 175

Naturally infl uential? 176

Social infl uencers 178

Connectedness 179

Meet Lois 180

Infl uence and infl uencers 181

Researching infl uence 181

Learning from Decision Watch 182

The Infl uenced not the Infl uencer 184

What this chapter has shown 186

Some questions for marketing 187

6: Key Principle No. 3: Us-Talk 189

Don't believe the hype 191

Children of the revolution 192

So why is the record industry so scared? 193

Scary Mary 195

What can we learn from the Arctic Monkeys' success? 196

Boom time for WoM Marketing 196

What does Marketing (really) know about WoM? 197

WoM Fact 1. Word of mouth is seen by consumers to be more

important than other infl uences on individual purchases 198

WoM Fact 2. Word of mouth is seen to be getting more and more important over time 199

WoM Fact 3. Word of mouth seems to operate in both B2B and B2C 201

WoM Fact 4. Word of mouth is a global – and not just a North American – phenomenon 202

Astroturfi ng 204

I <B Motorola 205

WoM Redux 207

Grooming & feeling good 208

Talk and grooming 209

More grooming talk 209

How bad science changed the mind of a nation 210

Real impacts 214

What can we learn from the MMR case? 214

The conversation has already started 215

Us-talk again 217

It's not all (or even mostly) about you! 218

Paying for it 219

Talk in the real world 219

Talking about telly 220

That one number again 221

Don't Matter What You Say: the One Number Still Matters 224

What this chapter has shown 224

What's next? 225

Questions for marketing 225

7: Key Principle No. 4: Just Believe 227

Disappointed of Des Moines (or Dunstable)? 229

Meaning in a world of oversupply 230

Three principles explained 231

Goodnight Vienna 232

I believe 233

Cardigan Bay's third biggest clothing company 234

Outdoor threads 235

Nice to have? 235

Think differently 236

The journey (home) 238

Jamie's dinners 239

Being Naked 242

Anomalous Thinking 243

Back to the future 245

Enron and everything after 247

A challenge – does belief pay? 247

So what does the study show? 248

You are not alone 249

Free and legal 250

A is for . . . 252

Before we go 253

1. Be who you are 254

2. What do you believe in? Find it and live it! 254

3. Act like you mean it (and don't act like you don't . . .) 256

Summary: taking a stand 257

Some questions arising for marketing 258

8: Key Principle No. 5: (Re-)Light the Fire 259

Keep the home fires burning 261

The fire inside 262

Easier to extinguish than light 264

The misfits 266

Relighting my fire 267

The power of dreams 267

Dream a little dream 269

Vile bodies 270

A familiar situation 271

Girl talk 272

The danger of missions 273

You too can look like this 273

More belief 276

'T ain't what you say 277

The fire inside – summary so far 279

Where next? 280

How to work out what to do? 281

More behaviour thinking 282

Show, don't tell 282

Interlude: Beyond Petroleum 284

Belief in a cynical age 287

Cynics and dogs 288

Spotting cheaters 290

Conclusions 291

Questions for marketers 291

9: Key Principle No. 6: Co-Creativity 293

Unlikely popstars vol. 103 295

Charidee, my friends 296

Number one and everything after 297

So what does the 'Amarillo' syndrome teach us? 299

Originality and creativity 300

(Value) chain of fools? 301

Is this new news? 303

Hi-tech co-creativity 304

Welcome to SIM City 305

Rewriting history (together?) 306

Galileo, Newton and Einstein 307

Another 'pencil squeezer'? 309

Co-creativity – summary so far 309

Meetings, bloody meetings 310

Kick-off 312

At the theatre 313

Co-creative marketing attempts to change mass behaviour 314

I saw this and I thought of you 315

Using co-creativity to change internal audience mass behaviour 317

The Hawthorne effect and after 318

Co-creative innovation 319

Two types of co-creative networks 320

The Ocean's 11 dream team 321

Co-creativity and market research (1) 322

Co-creativity and market research (2) 323

Some ideas that co-creativity challenges 323

Some questions for marketing 324

10: Key Principle No. 7: Letting Go 325

What a score! 327

The limits of my powers 329

The loneliness of the touchline 330

What Carwyn did and didn't do 331

The loneliness of the manager 332

The company as machine 332

Reducing the human element 333

Children of the lesser god 334

Another point of view 335

Human remains 336

Interaction businesses 337

A different kind of job 337

Back to the drawing board? 340

So what can you do? 342

More human physics 342

Crisis, what crisis? 343

Let them all talk 344

Talk with the talkers 347

What do they talk of? 348

And fi nally . . . 348

As inside, so outside 349

The end of management 349

Some questions for marketing 350

Part Three: Making Sense of the Herd

11: Conclusions 355

Life, the universe and giant aquatic reptiles 357

Seeing things differently 358

Conclusion 1: Our species is first and foremost a social one 359

Implication 1: Stop thinking and talking with words that conjure the 'I' perspective 360

Conclusion 2: Individuals are unreliable (if not largely irrelevant) witnesses 360

Implication 2: Don't ask 360

Conclusion 3: Interaction is everything; interaction is the 'big how' 361

Implication 3: Understand the how-mechanic and use it 361

Conclusion 4: C2C, not B2C 361

Implication 4: Get the system to work for you 362

Conclusion 5: MVC vs. MIC? 362

Implication 5: Rethink targeting 362

Conclusion 6: Communication is not about sending information 363

Implication 6: Communication and action 363

Conclusion 7: What people say is just the most visible infl uence 364

Implication 7: Make peer-to-peer interaction the real goal of all marketing (and not just WoM) 364

Conclusion 8: Be more interesting 365

Implication 8: Find your Purpose-Idea and live it 365

Conclusion 9: Co-create 365

Implication 9: Learn to be a great co-creator 366

Conclusion 10: Letting go 366

Implication 10: Rethink 'management' 366

Postscript to the Paperback edition 369

And it's goodnight from him . . . 369

Endnotes 371

Index 385

  • Paperback version of Mark Earls' bestselling hardcover
  • Updated with new stats and figures
  • Provides two completely revised chapters that deal with the rise of social networking
  • Revolutionizes marketing by showing that the theory on which much of it is based - the idea of the consumer as individual - is wrong
  • Uses a host of unusual examples and anecdotes to open the mind, from Peter Kay to Desmond Tutu, Apple to UK Sexual Health programmes, George Bush to Castle Lager, from autism to depression to the real explanation for the placebo effect in pharmaceutical testing.