In Blog, Hustle Podcast by Eric ByrnesLeave a Comment

Just recently finished a book written by John Berger called Contagious – Why Things Catch On.  

As one of his main examples, Berger used the Philadelphia restaurant Barkley Prime as a business that figured out how to create a product that naturally became contagious amongst the masses… 

“What is it, what is it????”

Hey, it’s Stevie SuperSoft! Do you have any guesses, Stevie?

“Of course, it is the best steak ever, the high-end beef of all beefs… The type of meat that can put you into hibernation for 6 months. 🥩” 

Not a bad guess Stevie but WRONG as usual…

Before enlightenment, let’s first go over the 6 different criteria’s that have the potential to make a product contagious as laid out by Berger. (No pun intended)  🍔 

  1. Social currency – Does talking about your idea make people look good? 
  2. Triggers – What cues make people think about your idea? 
  3. Emotion – Does your idea generate emotion? How does it make people feel? 
  4. Public – When people use your product can other people see? 
  5. Practical Value – Does your idea or product add value to you and others? Is it something that is worth them passing on? 
  6. Stories – Is the story of the concept worth telling and does it have the potential to go viral? 

The product created by Barkley Prime that created so much noise was actually a $100 cheesesteak sandwich, made with just about the best ingredients imaginable… So, considering it was a raging success, let’s put it to Berger’s test… 

  1. This one definitely warrants social currency… Who doesn’t want to talk about a sandwich that costs 100 large?
  2. There seem to be all sorts of triggers… Philly is the cheesesteak capital of the world and just about on every corner is another cheesesteak shop that has the potential to rile up the conversation about the 100 buck sandwich. 
  3. If a 100 dollar cheesesteak doesn’t incite emotion in us, something is probably wrong and we should see somebody about the issue… Anger, rage, excitement, whatever floats your boat, but your boat definitely needs to be floating in the sea of emotions for this hoagie. 
  4. People may not see you chomping down the pricey cheesesteak, but it is so outrageous that the national media picked up on the story and the sandwich became front and center in the public’s eye. 
  5. Still not sure if the cheesesteak contains “practical” value, but there is definite value in this monster and the Kobe beef, fresh peppers, and special cheese have some people arguing it may even be underpriced. 
  6. The tale of creating and/or mowing one of these bad boys is definitely worth telling… Can’t think of a much better or ridiculous story coming out of an otherwise pretty generic high-end steakhouse. 

So, what can we learn from this? 

I’m not quite sure outrageously jacking up the price of a pretty standard product is always the answer, but it’s probably a pretty good idea to put the Berger 6 rule contagious theory to the test when we have our next genius idea that we plan on making us billions… 

Bon appetit, EB