buyology: truth and lies about why we buy by m lindstrom

 I don’t especially like it when I have to start an entry with… “Reading time last month has been unwillingly lousy!”  As much as I like to say I have complete control over my time and doings, there are many uncontrollable factors that keep me fully occupied every day.  Anyway, perfectly in time for my ongoing project at work with shopper marketing, I was able to pick up some tips here and there from Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom.  The book is certainly an eye-opener for insights of consumers today.  Literally.  Every statement Lindstrom makes is substantiated by the results from his millions-of-dollars worth of scientific research.  He scanned thousands of brains to see the correlation between how consumers behave and what they’re actually thinking.

What we say about a certain product does not, in fact, cannot predict our behavior to purchase it.  Consumer behavior spins off from a matrix of convoluted thoughts and irrational behaviors.  It’s fascinating really, and Lindstrom proves it scientifically.  Whether this nascent science can be the holy grail of tomorrow’s marketing is another story but I think it’s something that advertisers should consider it seriously.  Today, we are more visually overstimulated than ever before.  An average consumer is exposed to almost 3000+ brands a day.  But we need to understand that the more stimulated we are, the harder it is to truly capture our attention.  And in the end, we are left with nothing but faded memories of these brands.

Lindstrom claims that buying a product is more often a ritualized behavior than a conscious decision.  So how could a brand work towards becoming an idolized symbol?  It has to directly engage us with the products/services.  It has to make us feel like we cannot live without it.  Mirror neurons in our brain can actually expedite this desired consumer behavior.  Take for instance, when we hear accents.  We cannot help but attempt to imitate the sound and language.  Mirror neurons explain why we often smile when we see someone who is happy or wince when we see someone who is in physical pain.  It makes us believe that we can feel what we see or imitate what we hear (British accents).  When we see clothing ads with ideal body figures, it makes us believe that we could look as good as the picture, which leads us to buy that certain piece of clothing.   Brands can use this strategically, when necessary.

Today, brands are proactively seeking ways to engage us through sensory marketing, going beyond just provoking our mirror neurons.  Lindstrom humorously predicts that perhaps in twenty years, Times Square will be empty or blank – sans flashing billboards – so that every step we take, we would smell the brands rather than see them; or even hear the brands…  Now, that would be quite the revolution.

dee’s rec: 4/5