Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Family, Friends, and Sex, December 3, 2009
This review is from: Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior (Hardcover)
If South Park had an evolutionary psychologist as a character it would be Geoffrey Miller, professor at the University of New Mexico, and author of Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior. Miller uses his irreverent writing style to explain global consumer culture through the application of the science of human nature. This is a particularly good book for marketers as it uses up-to-date science to explain why we, as humans, buy, and why we are often trapped by the allure of consumerism. He bases his argument on the notion that our needs and wants are driven by a psychological (or perhaps biological) predisposition to behave in a manner that signals our physical and mental fitness, and thereby, increases our likelihood of finding mating opportunities and receiving social support from friends and family.
Marketers will find this approach satisfying as Miller points out that we have been relying on an outdated model for understanding what drives consumers to want and buy things-namely Maslow's Hierarchy of Need. Spent's model suggests that humans display conspicuous waste, conspicuous precision, and conspicuous reputation to signal mating and social fitness. (You'll have to read the book for specifics.) Fitness indicators manifest themselves through general intelligence and five personality factors. (If you are familiar with the NEO Personality Inventory, you'll recognize these factors.) When applied to market segmentation, message creation, and media selection, it is my belief that marketers will find this approach more profitable and more socially responsible than the conventional "marketing as a business process" method.
From a literary point of view, most will find this book an easy read. Miller's writing is in the pop-intellectual style made fashionable by Gladwell, but the academician occasionally bleeds through. He offers a fair amount of social commentary which is often arguable, but always well thought out and provocative.
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