Buyology: Truth & Lies About Why We Buy

Book cover of

The other week, the folks at Doubleday sent me a review copy of Martin LIndstrom‘s latest book Buyology (side note: as I huge reader, I must say that free books might just be the greatest perk/reward I can think of for blogging).  Now I hadn’t read anything by Lindstrom before, but I was fascinated by his claim to be a “Brand Futurist” and the sub-title of his latest book – “Truth & Lies About Why We Buy.”  I was further intrigued after reading how Amazon described the book:

How much do we know about why we buy? What truly influences our decisions in today’s message-cluttered world? An eye-grabbing advertisement, a catchy slogan, an infectious jingle? Or do our buying decisions take place below the surface, so deep within our subconscious minds, we’re barely aware of them?

In BUYOLOGY, Lindstrom presents the astonishing findings from his groundbreaking, three-year, seven-million-dollar neuromarketing study, a cutting-edge experiment that peered inside the brains of 2,000 volunteers from all around the world as they encountered various ads, logos, commercials, brands, and products. His startling results shatter much of what we have long believed about what seduces our interest and drives us to buy.

I had a chance to read the book last week while traveling to the Forrester Consumer Forum and overall I have to give it good marks.  Here are just a few of the random tidbits I found most interesting:

  • When studying the sponsorship of American Idol, Lindstrom found huge differences in the impact for Coke and Ford.  Overall, Coke’s product placement had a measurable impact given its blatant appearance throughout the show.  Ford on the other hand actually had a negative impact, causing people to be less likely to buy a Ford.  Not a good impact for a $26 million investment.
  • Mirror neurons can become activated not only when observing other people’s behavior, but also when reading about it.  So when I type yawn, there is a good chance you are going to yawn or at least have the beginning stirrings of a yawn!
  • Kit-Kat has had huge success in the Far East because it is close to “Kitto-Katsu”. which roughly translates to “Win without fail.”  As a result, students in Japan believe that eating a Kit-Kat before they take an exam will help them score higher.
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3 Responses to Buyology: Truth & Lies About Why We Buy

  1. Robby Wells says:

    I actually yawned. Thanks.

  2. This will be an interesting read. I once felt I entered into marketing in an attempt to make myself less susceptible to its practices. So, I’ll Google this book, or maybe just go to Amazon and download it to a Kindle (see, impervious to marketing).

    I’ve often wondered what the consumer’s financial tolerance is for monthly subscriptions.

  3. finnmckenty says:

    not sure how i feel about this particular book, but i’m definitely intrigued by neuromarketing. i’m far from a technical expert on the subject, but from talking with people who are, it seems like we’re not quite there in terms of our ability to accurately measure all relevant brain activity. that said, i am firmly in the reductionist camp (that is to say, i think all social phenomena can ultimately be explained by brain chemistry and other physical phenomena), so i think this is the future of marketing in some form or another.

    as always, though, the gold standard for science is predictive success. i should probably read this, because i’d be interested to see to what extent neuromarketing has been able to deliver results. so far, i have not seen anything to convince me that we are able to apply naturalistic methods to social phenomena. the central question, in my mind, is the same old question of validity: are we measuring what we intend to measure? given how incredibly complex social phenomena are, it seems that qualitative, interpretive methods are just as valid as quantitative, naturalistic methods. in fact, applying naturalistic methods often results in “spurious precision,” in the form of conclusions that appear much more accurate than they really are (see econometrics).

    sorry if that’s incoherent, i’m still a bit groggy this morning!

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