“Buyology” by Martin Lindstrom

It’s always interesting to better understand why people buy things, what makes them decide that this product is better than this one. One of the recommendations I heard a while back was for a book with the tagline “Truth and Lies About Why We Buy”. The book, called “Buyology” and written by Martin Lindstrom, is well worth the read.

In summary, I really enjoyed the fact that the author looked at existing pre-conceptions (the warning label on cigarettes to prevent people from smoking) and, through scientific research, looked at what really happened in the brain vs. what people tell. Quite a few widely accepted ideas have to be re-considered based on the results presented in Buyology… and it should every everyone in Marketing to think twice about a new campaign.

The books description on amazon.com states following:

How much do we know about why we buy? What truly influences our decisions in todays 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.

In my day job in Product Management, I work very closely with the marketing teams and I am always very interested in better understanding what people go through with their buying decision, in addition to the fact that the product they are considering is great and answers a specific need they have… but what happens when there are so many different offers that fulfill the same need? How important is the brand? What makes the difference, especially when it comes to commoditized products?

Working on products dedicated for the graphics industries, I am well aware of the visual information overload that is characterizing our modern society… From memory, a NY-based research firm recently estimated that we are, on average, exposed to over 5,000 unique messages every day (anyone remember the exact source of the quote btw?). This book looks at various questions and de-facto assumptions. Some points that are analyzed are:

  • how the scary health warnings on cigarettes packages are actually having the opposite effect on smokers
  • why sex doesn’t sell
  • the importance of other senses (smell, touch and sound), except when over-done (Nokia ring-tone anyone?)
  • How strong brands stimulate similar areas in the brain as religions

This book is really a great tour in the mind of consumers and is well worth a read by everyone who works on products or services and who is in a competitive space (yes, I know, this doesn’t leave many of you excluded). Highly recommended.