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Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are [Kindle Edition]

Rob Walker
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Brands are dead. Advertising no longer works. Consumers are in control. Or so we're told. In Buying In, Rob Walker argues that this accepted wisdom misses a much more important cultural shift, including a practice he calls murketing, in which people create brands of their own and participate, in unprecedented ways, in marketing campaigns for their favorites. Yes, rather than becoming immune to them, we are rapidly embracing brands. Profiling Timberland, American Apparel, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Red Bull, iPod, and Livestrong, among others, Walker demonstrates the ways in which buyers adopt products not just as consumer choices but as conscious expressions of their identities. Part marketing primer, part work of cultural anthropology, Buying In reveals why now, more than ever, we are what we buy—and vice versa. 

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—Walker takes a close look at past and present consumerism in the United States, positing that older forms of advertising are no longer successful. In their place, the trend has shifted to what the author calls "murketing," a mix of "murky" and "marketing." He argues that instead of being manipulated by marketing, consumers are using it to their advantage; and instead of being shaped by products, consumers are using them to express individual identity and social outlook. Told from the perspectives of both consumers and marketers, the book entwines historical fact, commentary from experts in the field, and pop-culture examples drawn from brand names such as Timberland, Sanrio, Apple, and Nike. It also incorporates conversations with CEOs of companies like American Apparel as well as start-up projects from the skateboarding and music industries. Walker examines all aspects of "murketing," including ethics, emerging technology, and commercialization versus underground movements. This book is both accessible and relevant to teens, with many of the examples being pulled from Generations Y and Z. It will be useful to those interested in business, advertising, or social trends.—Kelliann Bogan, Colby-Sawyer College, New London, NH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

New York Times columnist and author (Letters from New Orleans, 2005) Walker makes no pretense at being a master of modern marketing. But he does, through intuitive, savvy observations of human and corporate behaviors, solidify his argument for what brands mean in today’s society. His claim that brands such as Hello Kitty and the iPod, among others, balance our need for both belonging and individuality is not revolutionary. So what’s new here? That Walker is one of the prime analysts dedicated to probing our minds, our behavior, and, specifically, our buying patterns. He addresses the demand for authenticity and the nearly accidental formation of consumer communities, almost in spite of commercial persuasion campaigns, creating a real connection that many Americans are seeking. And thanks to his scrutiny of today’s global companies, his examples, from Toyota’s Scion to the Austin Craft Mafia, prove his point: “You surround yourself only with who you are.” We’d add “and who you want to be.” Easy, colloquial, and passion-driven prose will help this tome reach the top of business booksellers’ lists. --Barbara Jacobs

Product Details

  • File Size: 360 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (June 3, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0015DWKWW
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #423,011 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Energy Drink Kitesurfing June 19, 2008
I second what Po Bronson says about "Buying In." This book is much more than a simple, cocktail party business book -- it's an attentive, subtle and entertaining meditation that not only uncovers the latest trends in buying, selling and marketing but also pushes us to consider larger questions beyond these subjects. Personally, since finishing the book, I've taken a harder look at my purchases and what they mean to my larger sense of identity. Not that this is some kind of Chicken Soup for the Marketing Soul, but Walker isn't afraid to follow his many case studies and pieces of hard evidence to wherever they lead, and sometimes that means not only a critique of consumer culture but a look at contemporary American culture as a whole. And that's what I love most about this book -- that Walker dives into consumer culture with such wide, bemused eyes. The reporting reminds me of Studs Terkel -- when a journalist can turn a subject into something wonderful, literally into something "full of wonder." I was happy to follow marketing detective Walker on his tour of energy drink kitesurfing, dive bars, chicken sausage cookouts, underground dance parties, and Lower East Side sneaker boutiques. (As someone who almost got kicked out of an "underground" New York sneaker boutique for merely trying to, um, shop, I was pleased to have Walker pull my coat on this corner of underground brand culture.) And where his tour leaves us, at the end of the gripping final chapter, is in a place that is somewhat contradictory and unexpected and completely fascinating.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Media Savvy Marketing Commentary June 18, 2008
I'm a huge fan of Rob Walker's style and regularly read his 'Consumed' column and mourn his recently departed 'Murketing' newsletter. Heck, I even read his yearly 'zine on departed public figures. That said, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when reading 'Buying In.'

Unlike typical industry commentators and critics, Walker tends not to add hype to the mix, but rather breaks down products, trends and marketing techniques to almost a scientific level. More text book than hyped book du jour.

If you're looking for a quick easy read with sound bites that will make you sound cooler to your colleagues- this is not the book for you. If you're looking to dig into a book that will make you rethink the branding of your favorite companies while offering insights into the industry in general, you should probably stop reading this review and just order the book--just don't expect to finish it in one sitting.

Walker doesn't have schtick, no funny hair or pretentious wording, just an extremely meaty read that makes me think I should reread it in case I missed anything.
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36 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Rob Walker's book is excellent. Since the dawn of the internet age, just over a decade ago, the classic marketing paradigm (brands, 4Ps, advertising etc) have been on a slippery slope, and the only trouble is nobody has been quite sure which way it would all tilt. I have a raft of books talking about the "new marketing" (there was a boom in these after 1998 and the new millennium) but in my view Rob Walker is the first author to really nail the subject. He gets it so right.

I've spent since 1996 doing market research amongst youth brands (mostly amongst energy drinks as it happens, so I feel Rob's discussion of Red Bull and other players is absolutely right on the mark.) In this past decade I've been conscious that the changes we've been seeing are part of a mich bigger pattern. But Walker is the first writer and critic to stand back and really put it all in perspective. His thinking here - wide-eyed, holistic, detailed and entertainingly pertinent - puts you in the right place to see everything and how it all fits. He kind of grabs you by the sleeve to take you there, such is the energy of his writing.

One is left with the interesting question: are brands what the manufacturers make of them? Or are they appropriated by the consumer to reflect what we want of them? The subtle cover art, with the title floating between a bar-code and a thumb print, kind of sums things up. (One of the most subtle covers I've seen since Rita carter's excellent Multiplicity: The New Science of Personality, Identity, and the Self)

Rob Walker presents us with an excellent book for marketers, market researchers, tired media buyers, marketing graduates who think they know everything and anyone who is just plain fascinated by how our society ticks. This is great reading.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Take with a Grain of Salt January 23, 2012
This book was a great beginning point for those who are interested in marketing. Everything stated in a book about effective marketing and whatnot should be taken with a grain of salt because it is never so simple.

This book uses case studies to help prove the authors point. And these case studies lead to some very interesting conclusions about mankind.

Reading this I came across a few lines that I thought would help someone get a feel for this book.

"Branding is really a process of attaching an idea to a product." (8)

"...the key to cracking the Desire Code lay in the object: To attract Consumer Economicus, build something that helps people solve a problem, or do a job, better than before." (36)

"...salience- the mere awareness that a thing exists in the world- is such a big part of what the commercial persuasion industry aims to achieve." (58)

"...these critics say we glom onto symbols and objects as a means of impressing, or even competing with, an audience. It's a never-ending game of 'status-oriented one-upmanship" in which we 'just want to stand out, or at least not look bad, compared to other people,"" (64)

"Rational thinking, one speaker noted that morning, leads to conclusions, whereas emotional thinking, based not on deliberation but on following impulsive gut instincts, leads to actions." (69)

"The simple act of not buying something has always been- and remains- the form of consumer power that brand managers fear the most" (80)

"So to sell something like Axe, he concluded, "you have to become part of pop culture."" (133)

"...lots of people like to tell others what they are reading and what restaurant they've discovered and what gizmo they just bought.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Buying In: the Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are
"Buying In" is a thought-provoking look at America's consumer culture.

Rob Walker tells us there is a strong disconnect between theories about contemporary... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Kim Burdick
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read if you are into marketing
I had to read it for a class project. It was really insightful and provided some novel approaches to conventional marketing approaches. An easy read.
Published 18 months ago by Elisa Morales
4.0 out of 5 stars Buying in: what we buy and who we are is a good book!!
Honestly i dont read too many books because of the fact that i dislike to read period. But when i was assigned to read Buying in by Rob Walker i was actually intrested because this... Read more
Published 20 months ago by MelodWahaj
3.0 out of 5 stars What We Buy and Who We Are
I enjoyed the agency that Walker granted to consumers in understanding the influence of advertising and marketing in our purchasing decisions. Read more
Published on April 17, 2011 by Jessica
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read!
Walker provides his views on consumerism, and why we buy what we buy. He discusses how the consumer has an effect on a brand/product's meaning, and gives many examples throughout... Read more
Published on March 6, 2011 by keversma
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, well-written book on modern marketing trends
This book had a Gladwell-esque feel to it, the way it brought together different stories or research to make larger points about emerging trends in marketing. Read more
Published on February 9, 2011 by Jon Becker
4.0 out of 5 stars The Mystery of Objects
A book about the mysterious power of objects in our lives.

About 75 years ago, the writing was on the wall in Europe. Read more
Published on August 1, 2010 by Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Marketing bookshelf essential
I really enjoyed the way Rob Walker takes us deep under the skin of what a brand really means rather than what a marketing manager thinks that their brand is in the book Buying In. Read more
Published on November 14, 2009 by Mr. G. Carroll
4.0 out of 5 stars Have You Bought In?
Buying In is an overview of branding and the evolving relationship between brands and the consumer. As a result of this evolving relationship, branding, and the industry as a... Read more
Published on October 1, 2009 by John R. Sedivy
5.0 out of 5 stars Not light and fluffy but definitely a "must read"
In "Buying In", Rob Walker explores how modern consumers interact with brands and why you are less in control of what your brand means than ever before. Read more
Published on September 24, 2009 by The Marketing Guy Who Drives Sales -r
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More About the Author

Rob Walker contributes to The New York Times Magazine and Design Observer, among others. He is the author of Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are, and Letters from New Orleans.


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