Is the Tipping Point Toast?

Posted by on Jan 30, 2008 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Duncan Watts has an interesting article at Fast Company calling into question the theory that a small group of influential people are responsible for triggering trends as outlined (and made famous) by Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.

If society is ready to embrace a trend, almost anyone can start one—and if it isn’t, then almost no one can,” Watts concludes. To succeed with a new product, it’s less a matter of finding the perfect hipster to infect and more a matter of gauging the public’s mood. Sure, there’ll always be a first mover in a trend. But since she generally stumbles into that role by chance, she is, in Watts’s terminology, an “accidental Influential.

Perhaps the problem with viral marketing is that the disease metaphor is misleading. Watts thinks trends are more like forest fires: There are thousands a year, but only a few become roaring monsters. That’s because in those rare situations, the landscape was ripe: sparse rain, dry woods, badly equipped fire departments. If these conditions exist, any old match will do. “And nobody,” Watts says wryly, “will go around talking about the exceptional properties of the spark that started the fire.

Leave a Reply

This blog is kept spam free by WP-SpamFree.