Blog on The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point

By Priyanka Ingle

Malcolm Gladwell, in The Tipping Point, writes about a study of human behavior patterns and illustrates how the smallest things can trigger an epidemic of change.

Malcolm Gladwell defines The Tipping Point as the moment of critical mass, the threshold, and the boiling point.The Tipping Point is that dramatic moment when little causes drive the unexpected to become expected and propel the idea of radical change to certain acceptance.

Malcolm Gladwell, states that ideas, products, messages and behaviors spread like viruses do – Viral theory of marketing. The Tipping Point is that magic moment when an idea, trend or social behavior crosses, tips and spreads like wildfire.

The substance of the book states that there are three things that can converge to bring about dramatic and perhaps unexpectedly fast changes in our society. Malcolm Gladwell’s point is that very small changes in any or several of the context, the quality of the idea creating memorable impact, or whether the idea reaches a very small group of key people can spark a dramatic epidemic of change in society. Through his in-depth study and research in a variety of different fields, industries and disciplines, Gladwell found that epidemics have three characteristics:

  1. Little things can have big effect
  2. Contagiousness (Big or Mass)
  3.  The change happens not gradually but at one dramatic moment.

Thus, Malcolm states that we are powerfully influenced by our surroundings, our immediate context, and the key promoters or the personalities around us.

Malcolm Gladwell describes the three rules of epidemics / the three agents of change in the tipping points of epidemics.

  • The Law of the Few – A small percentage of people can do the majority of the work – 80/20 Principle. The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts. These people are described in the following ways:
    • Connectors are Social Glue – they spread the message. Proximity overpowers similarity. The people in a community who know large numbers of people and have a special gift of bringing the world together.
    • Mavens are data banks – they provide the message. Information specialists or people we rely upon to connect us with new information. They accumulate knowledge and have the social skills to start word-of-mouth epidemics.
    • Salesmen are persuaders. The people with powerful negotiation skill.They have an indefinable trait which makes others want to agree with them.

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  • The Stickiness Factor – Stickiness means that the specific content of a message makes a memorable impact. It is the unique quality that sticks the message in the minds of the people and influences their future behavior. The idea must be memorable, practical, personal and sticky.Thus, by playing with the words and information we can influence people’s perception and improve its stickiness factor.
  • The Power of Context – Human behavior is sensitive to and strongly influenced by its environment.

Gladwell provides illustrations and examples that make his arguments compelling and insights on how the readers can incorporate his model into their activities.The best way to understand the emergence of fashion trends, the flow of crime waves, the transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, the rise in teenage smoking, the phenomenon of word of mouth, or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life is to think of them as epidemics.

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