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Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy Paperback – February 2, 2010

3.5 out of 5 stars 269 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Through extensive and expensive research, Lindstrom provides an adequate primer on what neuroscience studies can tell society—particularly marketers—about how selling (and more important, buying) works. Whether considering the roles of sex, religion, product placement or contradictions in consumer habits between what they say and what they do, Lindstrom explores how brain-scan studies reveal an avalanche of information about what works and what doesn't. Though the information is intriguing, Lindstrom's disregard for the potential abuses of such information (such as marketers purposely manipulating people to buy products that are harmful, of which there is a proven track record) makes his enthusiasm suspect. Don Leslie provides a good voice for nonfiction material, using a congenial tone with good emphasis to keep the listeners engaged. His gentle but deep voice creates the impression of an older person imparting knowledge upon the youth, which may also lend some authority to the text. A Doubleday hardcover. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A page-turner"

" Lindstrom dishes up results, alongside a buffet of past research, with clear writing and deft reasoning."
-Fast Company

“Lindstrom … has an encyclopedic knowledge of advertising history and an abundance of real-world business experience”
-The Washington Post

“Martin Lindstrom, the boy wonder of branding, tells that the future of shopping is all in the mind”
-The Sunday Times (UK)

“Shatters conventional wisdom”

"...brings together a great many strands of research to build a fascinating case. The writing is snappy and the book’s a page turner"
-BBC Focus Magazine

“Lindstrom's research should be of interest to any company launching a new product or brand”
-USA Today

"Lindstrom...has an original, inquisitive mind...His new book is a fascinating look at how consumers perceive logos, ads, commercials, brands, and products."

“When someone tells you that a book is a "page-turner," you probably think of the latest top-list best-seller. Now you'll think of Buyology….Pick up a copy of this book and get one of those highlighting thingamajiggies before you fix your ad budget for the new year. "Buyology" is definitely money well-spent.”
-The Eagle Tribune

“An entertaining and informative tome”
-The Seattle Examiner

“Why do rational people act irrationally? Written like a fast paced detective novel, "Buyology" unveils what neuromarketers know about our decision making so we can buy and sell more insightfully."
- Dr. Mehmet C Oz Professor of Surgery, Columbia University, and author of YOU -The Owner’s Manual

“Move over Tipping Point and Made to Stick because there’s a new book in town: Buyology. This book lights the way for smart marketers and entrepreneurs.”
-Guy Kawasaki, Author of The Art of the Start

"Martin Lindstrom is one of branding's most original thinkers"
-Robert A. Eckert, CEO & Chairman, Mattel, Inc.

“Lindstrom takes us on a fascinating journey inside the consumer brain. Why do we make the decisions we do? Surprising and eye opening, Buyology is a must for anyone conducting a marketing campaign.”
Ori Brafman, author of the bestselling book, Sway

"Full of intriguing stories on how the brain, brands and emotions drive consumer choice. Martin Lindstrom’s brilliant blending of marketing and neuroscience supplies us with a deeper understanding of the dynamic, largely unconscious forces that shape our  decision making. One reading of this book and you will look at consumer and producer behavior in an entirely new light.”
-Philip Kotler, Ph.D., S. C. Johnson & Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

"A riveting read. Challenging, exciting, provocative, clever, and, even more importantly, useful!"
-Andrew Robertson, CEO & President, BBDO Worldwide

Lindstrom can be a charming writer. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of advertising history and an abundance of real-world business experience

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; Reprint edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385523890
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385523899
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (269 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book has a very interesting premise - using MRI to examine, not cognition, memory, or emotion, but advertising. And some of the results are rather interesting. For example:

- Negative messages (anti-smoking ads, say) can activate desires just as easily as positive ones.
- Strong brands can activate the same brain centers as do religious topics.
- Indirect advertising (the coke glasses sitting in front of the American Idol judges) can be more effective than direct advertising.

Probably the biggest takeaway is that what people say and how they really feel are not the same. Actually, having written all this out, I'm not sure that these results really are all that unexpected and interesting after all. ;^)

My biggest beef with the book is how thin it is beyond the basic reporting of results. Yes, it actually is over 200 pages (just barely), but there is an awful lot of padding in there. Part of that is going over some very basic ideas (subliminal advertising, e.g.) ad infinitum, but also being extremely anecdotal. I like anecdotes, and feel they make for a great read, but the author really goes overboard - especially when it comes to anecdotes about himself.

In fact, the author's ego really gets in the way here. Here are some samples:

"But this study wasn't going to come cheap, and I knew that without corporate backing, it was dead in the water. But when I get an idea in my head that keeps me up at night, I'm persistent. Politely pushy, you might call it. Those twenty-seven messages on your answering machine. They're all from me (sorry)."


"By way of profession, I'm a global branding expert. That is, it's been a lifelong mission (and passion) to figure out how consumers think ...
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Format: Hardcover
This book was 50% review of other brands and ad campaigns, 30% bragging about how cool the "experiments" were, 10% new data that was only semi compelling, and 10% telling you what they just told you.

If they really stretched it, this should have been a 3 page article in a reader's digest. Maybe a 1,000 word article in the WSJ.

The most interesting thing I learned was about "mirror neurons" and how our brains imagine, e.g., eating an apple when only watching someone else do it. But that is not enough for a whole book. There were other tidbits but not worth the $ or effort to learn them.

I bought this book on tape along with "Tribes" by Godin. Audible is giving that one away for free. I would have paid $20 for Tribes and nothing for Buyology. It's almost as if the author of Buyology said "well since I have spent all this money for research I guess I should write a book."
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Format: Hardcover
This is the first book in a long time I felt like taking back, and demanding a refund.

Filled with common-sense observations inflated with info-mercial style prose, it's a shadow of the scientific study it claims to be.

Each chapter pounds you with juvenile "imagine this!" scenarios, while providing little scientific backing for the author's conclusions. After each disappointing narrative, he promises the next chapter has "groundbreaking new science!" Clearly, he has mastered the art of hype, for that's mostly what this book is.

Those looking for information on motivation and thinking patterns will be best served to look elsewhere.
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Format: Hardcover
Buy ology is a well-crafted book organized around a series of fMRI studies of the brain. The premise is to explore the connection between marketing and neuroscience to understand why we buy. The premise is full of hype as Lindstrom explores connections between sight, sound, smell, sports, sex and religion and the brain.

Positioned in this way, the book should be a headline grabbing set of findings that change the way we think about brands, our purchasing decisions and the messages with which we are bombarded every day. Unfortunately, the conclusions of the brain studies are largely predictable and refine rather than revolutionize marketing and neuroscience. This makes the book a better magazine article rather than a 200+ page book.

Unless you are marketing professional or someone who has this as your hobby, your time would be better spent looking at other books that cover the same subject area with more detail and more science. I found Jeff Hawkins and Sandra Blakeslee's Book "ON intelligence" and Daniel Pink's "A whole new mind" to be better books on the connections between neuroscience and social interactions.

Each chapter in Buy ology follows a similar pattern. The start sets up the issue, for example are brands as strong in peoples minds as religion. Then the author spends 20 or so pages providing review and opinion on the subject area. This part often repeats materials, stories, and findings found in every marketing book. Yes the usual suspects are quoted here "Apple's 1984" ad and the like. Finally in about a half a page, Lindstrom give the example -often based on a very small sample size - of the experiment. Then there is a rationalization of the findings that in the end maintains the status quo in marketing.
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