Buyology | Book Review


Does sex really sell? Are we getting manipulated by ads and branding? Why do we buy things? Martin Lindstrom, the author of Buyology, used three years, $7 million a bit over 2000 volunteers and a brain scanner to figure this stuff out. Are the myths getting crushed or confirmed behind that crisp, yellow book cover?

I wanted to find out why consumers were drawn to aparticular brand of clothing, a certain make of car, or a partciulare type of shving cream, shampoo or chocolate bar. The answer lay, I realized, somewhere in the brain.” – Martin Lindstrom

How does our brain work? There is so much to unlock inside the wobbly piece of hardware between our ears – A biological masterpiece of chemicals and tissue. Different parts for different functions and together they form a network of electric signals that makes us, well, us.

Equipped with a magnetic resonance scanner, Mr. Lindstrom and his team took a peek under the hood, checked out what was going on there in the brain when the owner got stimulated with questions, pictures, associations to products.  To quote Lindstrom himself: “We may think we know why we do the things we do – but a much closer look into the brain tells us otherwise”.

There is a lot to unpack about this book because even if it is a light read and written in a very accommodating pop-cultural way, there is such a wealth of information to soak in that its quite overwhelming. The good kind of overwhelming. Usually, I just need to read a book once, but Buyology had me occupied three times in under a week.

But what if I told you that much of this visual, in-your-face advertising is, in part of the advertisers, a largely wasted effort? That, in fact, our visual sense is far from our most powerful in seducing our interest and getting us to buy.” – Martin Lindstrom

Even though there is a lot of neuro-scientific and marketing language involved in reading this book – With terms such as somatic markers, mirror neurons, ‘Marlboro Motels’, sensory branding – the terms aren’t used to impress the reader, but to give the reader the ability to dress concepts in words.

Lindstrom ease in quite complex things with personal anecdotes, different examples of successful advertising strategies and connects them with these “academic” or marketing lingo words. At times, reading the book felt like a friend telling a funny story, but he needed to get me up to speed first before the punchline would really hit home.

Successful product placement history (E.T and America Idol, to give two examples) and some that weren’t as successful in generating sales (The Pepsi-challenge) gets taken a look at and analyzed

This mix is great to get an overview and the basic principles lined up to really understand whats going on and why we respond to different things – And to know when marketers are trying to mess with our heads!

Because, as our study had proved, far more potent than any cigarette logo were images associated with smoking, whether it was a red sports car or an aura of romantic solitude against a backdrop of the American Rockies” – Martin Lindstrom



If you are interested in picking up the book and supporting Utopium at the same time, consider purchasing it through Amazon!

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