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How Can Little Make Difference

Things a Big



Copyright © 2000 by Malcolm Gladwell All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from thepublisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review. First Edition The author is grateful for permission to include the following previously copyrighted material: Excerpts from interviews on Market Mavens videotape by Linda Price, Lawrence F. Feick, and Audrey Guskey. Reprinted by permission of the authors. Exerpts from Daniel Wegner, "Transactive Memory: A Contemporary Analysisof the Group Mind." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1991), vol. 61, no. 6. Reprinted by permission of the author. Exerpts from Donald H. Rubinstein, "Love and Suffering: Adolescent Socialization and Suicide in Micronesia," Contemporary Pacific (Spring 1995), vol. 7, no. l, and "Epidemic Suicide Among Micronesian Adolescents." Social Science and Medicine (1983). vol. 17. Reprinted bypermission of the author. Excerpts from Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer. Copyright © 1994 by Oxford University Press. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Gladwell Malcolm. The tipping point: how little things can make a big difference / by Malcolm Gladwell. p. cm. Includes index. ISBN0-316-31696-2 1. Social psychology, 2.Contagion (Social psychology) 3. Causation. 4. Context effects (Psychology) I. Title. HM1033.G53 2000 302--dc21 99-047576 1 0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Design: Meryl Sussman Levavi/Digitext, Inc. Printed in the United States of America

To Joyce and


parents, Gladwell



Introduction ONE


T h e T h r e e Rules of E p i d e m i c s TWO T h e L a w of t h e F e w : C o n n ec t o r s , M a v e n s , and Salesmen THREE The Stickiness Factor:



Sesame Street, Blue's Clues, and the E d u c a t i o n a l Virus 89





FOUR The Power of C o n t e x t ( P a r t O n e ) : Bernie G o e t z and the Rise and Fall of N e w York C i t y C r i m e 133 FIVE The Power of C o n t e x t (Part Two): The Magic N u m b e r O n e H u n d re d and Fifty 169 SIX Case S t u d y : R u m o r s , S n e a k e r s , and the P o w e r of T r a n s l a t i o n 193 SEVEN Case Study: Suicide, Smoking, and the Search for the Unsticky Cigarette 216 EIGHT Conclusion: F o c u s , Test, and Believe Endnotes 260 271 253

Acknowledgments Index 273



or Hush Puppies — the classic American brushed-suede shoeswith the lightweight crepe sole —- the Tipping Point came somewhere between late 1994 and early 1995. The brand had been all but dead until that point. Sales were down to 30,000 pairs a year, mostly to backwoods outlets and small-town family stores. Wolverine, the company that makes Hush Puppies, was thinking of phasing out the shoes that made them famous. But then something strange happened. At afashion shoot, two Hush Puppies executives — Owen Baxter and Geoffrey Lewis — ran into a stylist from New York who told them that the classic Hush Puppies had suddenly become hip in the clubs and bars of downtown Manhattan. "We were being told," Baxter recalls, "that there were resale shops in the Village, in Soho, where the shoes were being sold. People were going to the Ma and Pa stores, thelittle stores that still carried them, and buying them up." Baxter and Lewis




were baffled at first. It made no sense to them that shoes that were so obviously out of fashion could make a comeback. "We were told that Isaac Mizrahi was wearing the shoes himself," Lewis says. "I think it's fair to say thai at the time we had no idea who Isaac Mizrahi was." By the...