The Tipping Point offers insight into the popular question of how trends catch on. According to Malcolm Gladwell, the tipping or boiling point happens generally when the three rules of epidemics occur. Gladwell first goes into the story of Hush Puppies to introduce the tipping point.
The Law Of The Few is the first rule. Gladwell uses the midnight ride of Paul Revere to explain. He claims that some people are connectors and these people are the ones who have the ability to make some ideas spread. Mavens, people who make it a personal ambition to know and share information, are an example of a type of Connector. A second are salesmen, who are those people who encourage others to try new ideas and make it impossible to resist. Paul Revere had these characteristics and therefore was able to spread his message, unlike William Dawes. In this case, it wasn’t the message that was being spread, but the person spreading it. Furthering Gladwell’s case. Simply by finding and reaching those few special people who hold so much social power, we can shape the course of social epidemics.
Gladwell next discusses The Stickiness Factor. This rule ultimately dresses the factor that can make or break an idea. Using Sesame Street, he illustrates this concept. The need for seemingly slight changes in the show played a huge role in whether the show would top or not tip. By tinkering with the presentation of information, we can improve its stickiness. In order to be capable of sparking epidemics, ideas have to be memorable and move us into action.
The Power Of Context is the final rule Gladwell says is essential to the tipping point. Basically, the environment as well as the small changes made to it influences people more than we think. Gladwell discusses the “broken window theory” to showcase his claim. This theory says that broken windows encourage further vandalism and crime. The main example in the book is with the New York City Subway Station. By just painting over graffiti and dealing with the fare beaters, crime significantly decreased. “The broken window theory” and the power of context are one and the same. They are both based on the idea that an epidemic can be reversed and tipped by playing with the smallest details of the environment.
The case studies at the end of the book illustrate the power of the tipping point further. When talking about teen smoking, it is pointed out that cigarettes themselves aren’t the reason teens are drawn to them, but the stereotypical “coolness” of them.
Gladwell uses the tipping point to explain that social change is so volatile and inexplicable and how we are so sensitive to the smallest details of everyday life. By just manipulating a few factors, a whole outcome can change. I think this book gives groundbreaking insight into understanding how some trends take hold and others don’t. I think in the world of marketing especially this information is so useful to society today. To master the tipping point, is to be successful.