Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Why do we buy?
December 10, 2008, 5:44 PM
Filed under: Marketing | Tags: ,

Neuromarketing. The word itself stirs up visions of marketing “scientists” peering into our brains to see how they can sell us more products. And unfortunately (or fortunately if you’re a marketer) this vision is not far from the truth!


In his intriguing, and just a little bit scary book Buy-ology, Martin Lindstrom reveals the results of a three-year, $7 million neuromarketing study that peered inside the brains of 2,000 volunteers from around the world as they encountered various ads, logos, commercials, brands and products. With the use of MRI brain scanning, Lindstrom looked at the responses at various pleasure centers of the brain to see what forms of marketing elicit the strongest positive and negative responses.


Some of the results were as expected, but many were not. For instance, some consumers who prefer Pepsi to Coke in a blind taste test, prefer Coke to Pepsi when they know what they’re drinking. Lindstrom believes that “this is because Coke’s ad campaigns over the years have so effectively associated Coke with sensations of warmth, security and childhood innocence.”


But what about the ethical issues? Is it right to dig into the human mind in this way in order to manipulate people into buying products? Lindstrom doesn’t skirt this issue but argues instead that this technique actually benefits consumers. Instead of selling by distorting the truth about products, knowing what really attracts people to a product will guide companies to give them what they want. He even dedicates an area on his Web site to the ethical issues involved.


This book is full of examples that will surprise you. And even with the ethical issues that it raises, there is much to be learned about how we think about products and marketing, and the direction that marketing will be taking in the not-too-distant future.


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