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Buyology: How Everything We Believe About Why We Buy Is Wrong [Hardcover]

Martin Lindstrom
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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Book Description

28 Oct 2008
Anti-smoking campaigns unwittingly encourage people to smoke. Product placement in films rarely works. Many multi-million pound advertising campaigns are a complete waste of time. Subliminal advertising may have been banned but it's all around us. Our brains respond to brands in almost exactly the same way as they respond to religion. These are just a few of the findings of Martin Lindstrom's groundbreaking study of what really makes us, the consumers, tick. Convinced that there is a gulf between what we believe influences us and what actually does, he set up a highly ambitious research project that employed the very latest in brain-scanning technology and called on the services of some 2000 volunteers. Buyology shares the fruits of this research, revealing for the first time what actually goes on inside our heads when we see an advertisement, hear a marketing slogan, taste two rival brands of drink, or watch a programme sponsored by a major company. The conclusions are both startling and groundbreaking, showing the extent to which we deceive ourselves when we think we are making rational choices, and revealing factors as varied as childhood memories, religious belief, even our sense of smell, that come together to influence our decisions and shape our tastes.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Business (28 Oct 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847940110
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847940117
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.6 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 369,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Lindstrom 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 November 2008

A must-have for those involved with marketing and advertising --ReFresh


'... thorough and persuasive ... rewarding reading not just for marketing professionals, but for anyone interested in the way we behave.'

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not much new; yet very conceited 4 Jan 2009
buyology presents a few interesting insights, but mostly the narrative is marred by the authors irrelevant and boastful ego trip. Also - I find the book lacking in nuance. E.g. Lindstrom often reports that X has an effect on Y - but not how big an effect, and alternative explanations are not given much thought nor space.

Mostly the book fails because it does not tell us why we react in certain ways. In that respect the book simply shows us that brainscanning can tell us which advertising schemes works. But brainscanning can't tell us in advance how or why this works and that does not. Also the book lacks a discussion of how the brainscanning set-up is different from real-world advertising. E.g. It's all fine that mirror-neurons get credit for the ipod fad, but why only the ipod? Why not all other products?

A better book, with focus on the brain, would be A Mind of Its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives. Also The Political Brain: How We Make Up Our Minds Without Using Our Heads is highly reccommended.
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70 of 71 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre - don't waste your time 26 Dec 2008
This is a pretty lightweight book, and self-indulgent as well.

Most people will learn very little of interest that they probably don't already know. The possible exception to this is facts about the author himself, which are sprinkled throughout the text. Did you know he has an "extremely young, boyish-looking face"? Or that he has "raked-back blond hair"? Do you care?

So anyway, what I have learned is that we don't remember most of the advertisments we see; and we mostly buy stuff for irrational, unconscious or emotional reasons. And by scanning people's brains, you can see how different parts respond to brands and logos. This gives you a bit of insight into hard-to-explain human behaviour, such as smokers who smoke heavily despite the dire health warnings on cigarette packets.

Other amazing things I've learned include the fact that the smell of coffee makes you want to drink coffee.

As far as the book itself goes, Lindstrom fails to produce a decent narrative - it's just a jumble of loosely-connected facts, heaps and heaps of padding, repetition and irrelevant personal details. Plus I spotted a couple of dubious-looking "facts" which I easily found to be incorrect with a quick search of the web.

And as for the author himself - well, after a while he just comes across as egotistical, if not mildy delusional. He's just puffing up a few fairly obvious bits of science into a book he can use to promote his own personal brand.

Oh, and he claims to be responsible for egg yolks being bright yellow. I kid you not.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
By Martin
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Like other bona fide readers of this book, I found it a strange mixture: it does have some interesting insights. But these are overshadowed by the vanity of the author. As well as a shocking sloppiness about facts: for example, one of the two scientific techniques used in the research that supposedly underpins this books is "S.S.T." What does SST actually stand for? Good question - in some parts of the book (e.g. the index) he says it stands for "Solid State Typography". Elsewhere is the book he says it stands for "Solid State Topography". (e.g. page 208). If he can't get even that right, it's difficult to trust him elsewhere.

Speaking of trust. I can't help notice that reviews on this site for this book fall into two camps: reviews like mine, which say the book is "okay but". There there are THIRTY reviews which give it a 5. All these reviews appear to be by reviewers who have reviewed no other book, and give this work one paragraph reviews that verge on the ecstatic: "Mind Blowing!" "Oh what a book!" "Perfectly written". I'm sorry, and I don't wish to offend anyone, but I find it difficult to believe that all these reviews are genuine.

If you're interested in the subject, worth buying -- but be prepared to skip the bits about what a genius the author is, and treat the book with caution -- as well as some of the reviews about it you can read here.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some interesting facts but too wordy 6 Dec 2008
This book talks about research which has been carried out to determine what makes us buy things. Paco Underhill wrote "Why we Buy" but his approach has been to study people in supermarkets and understand behaviour that way. This book uses the latest in technology - eg MRI - to assess reactions to things. So there is a kind of bizarre fascination in reading how we really do not understand why we react to things in a particular way - it is all determined by the subconscious. Some very interesting findings are presented. My problem is that reading this book is a bit like going on a treasure hunt. There are some wonderful grains of genius, but there is a lot of fluff around it. I got the impression that this author was padding it out so that he could produce a decent length book and make a lot of money. He repeats himself a lot and engages in a lot of "Did you think X? Well, the next chapter will show you how wrong you were" or "I thought Y, and I set out to prove it". OK, I can see the author is some kind of genius, but this book really should provide more for your money than a few interesting facts dressed up in a long and rambling tale.

If you're interested in marketing then by all means buy this book but be prepared to be bored at least half of the time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Interesting book, but sometimes about obvious things
Published 12 days ago by Joanna Smogorzewska
3.0 out of 5 stars How everything we believe about why we buy is wrong? Well perhaps some...
The subhead is a perfect example of the bold claims made in this book which are backed up by illogical conclusions and assumptions or are contradicted by the evidence presented. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Willow
4.0 out of 5 stars Very readable, very entertaining
This was a good, interesting and readable book, though somewhat superseded by his later book Brandwashed. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Reece
2.0 out of 5 stars lots of waffle
I am afraid I did not like this book at all and was only regretting spending my money on it. The author's tone seems patronising and there is not enough practical data to back up... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Alicia P.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I use lots of the examples in classes that I teach on Retail understanding. Highly recommend. Gives a different insight into what makes people make purchase decisions.
Published 16 months ago by Mr Joe Metcalfe
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book ever
If you work in Marketing or Sales, this is the bible!!! It's amazong, life changing.
Can change an entire advertising or marketing strategy!
Published 17 months ago by Flavia
5.0 out of 5 stars Great.Easy reading.Useful.
Nice book,well written ,easy to read, good value, light, almost pocketsize,easy to carry with you,short chapters,not tiring,
useful information,marketing strategies and... Read more
Published on 3 Aug 2012 by M. Locci
4.0 out of 5 stars buyology
Great book.This book is definitely worth reading, will make you smarter customer, and migh help you win over shopping addiction.four stars
Published on 21 Jun 2012 by sb
1.0 out of 5 stars Feeble
Lots of people have covered it in sufficient detail so I won't over do it but this book is poor at best. Many examples of basic science coupled to highly dubious assertions. Read more
Published on 19 May 2012 by JamesW
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining read but leaving a sense of slight disappointment
The book is entertaining, lightly written and pretty fast to read. The thing is that I've set too big expectations after hearing the interview with the author. Read more
Published on 15 Oct 2011 by MaggieWhy
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