Tag Archives: marketing

Buyology: A book about why we buy what we buy

A shopping mall.

A typical shopping mall. Image courtesy of Marcin Kempa, Unsplash.

Have you ever sat down and really thought about why you buy certain items? Maybe you like dealing with a certain company and know that their products are reliable and good.

Maybe you liked colors of the packaging. Maybe you appreciated the package’s clever design that was either functional, a work of art or both.

In other cases, you might have liked the low price, you remembered the advertising or you have pleasant memories associated with that product. For instance, I like the scent of Ivory Soap because my grandfather always had it around, especially at his country house out in the Shenandoah Valley.

Perhaps a product appeals to your other senses such as taste. Kraft’s Mac & Cheese, anyone?

As I was writing my final paper for the advanced web analytics class I took this summer, I quoted from a book called “Buyology: Truth and Lies about Why We Buy” by marketing guru Martin Lindstrom. In this book, he described an international neuromarketing study that involved hooking volunteers up to machines and seeing what their brains actually responded to in regard to ads, logos, commercials, brands and products.

Yes, it sounds a bit Orwellian. But the book has some very interesting insights that are quite fun to read about. It also uses real-life examples from brands you’d be familiar with: M&Ms, Coke, Ford, Apple, A&E, Starbucks and many more.

Some interesting items I learned from this book:

1) Classical music played in the London Underground caused crime rates to dip.

2) Playing French or German music in a British supermarket on certain days influenced whether or not someone bought French wine or German beer.

3) Sex doesn’t always sell. Sometimes a sexy image interferes with someone’s ability to recall what was being advertised. The same goes for famous celebrities acting as spokespeople — people remember the person and not the product.

4) A product sells better if it’s woven into the narrative of a story that you’re telling customers. (Remember “ET” and Reese’s Pieces? Sales went up after that movie came out.)

As a digital marketer, it’s fascinating to me to see what people buy and why. It’s also interesting to learn how culture plays a role in buying decisions — how one product will do well in one country but flop in another.

You also have to factor in search engine optimization (SEO). Our ability to find a product we want is often related to how easy it is to find it online. How many times during a year do you use Google to track down a product or use Yelp, Kayak or Travelocity to find a restaurant, a flight, or a place to stay?

And did you know there’s even international SEO? In this country, we use Google, but it’s not the most popular search engine in every country. For my class, I got to do another paper that allowed me to explore the topic of international SEO and that was fun to learn.

I also love funny, clever marketing. Who could forget this 2011 Super Bowl commercial for Volkswagen, for example? (Video credit: darthvadercommercial, YouTube.)

Enjoy the book. I hope you find it interesting.





Filed under Writing