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4.5 out of 5 stars43
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 11 March 2014
This is pretty much the only business marketing book I could find with a true grounding in psychology as a science. There are a few others that claim to be grounded in psychology, but they either don't really tell you anything practical, or don't actually base their claims on evidence. This book does both.

The basic theory is that people make purchase decisions based upon their active goals, and that business can be seen as tools to attain certain goals. I find this to be a much more practical way of implementing marketing than trying to elicit certain emotions, which doesn't really give you much of a framework to build on.

I would recommend this book to any business owner, marketeer or psychologist
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on 1 July 2014
Not just for retail marketeers, Decoded is essential reading for all marketeers.

With so many choices available for customers these days is it critical, now more than ever, to understand your customers; why they make the decisions they do; and how to influence them to choose your product over a competitors.

Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy looks at previous research into consumer decision making and neuro-marketing which debunking certain myths and offering alternate theory's based on direct experience and latest thinking.

Written in a style that is approachable and effective, its something I keep on my desk (along with The E-Myth Revisited) to refer back to.
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on 16 May 2013
There is an amazing fact near the start of Decoded, a new book from marketer Phil Barden. The average person takes 1.7 seconds to process the information in an advertisement in a magazine.

But this does not really matter because all good marketing needs is this 1.7 seconds. People are programmed to respond quickly to the hundreds of thousands of things they "see" every day.

If the marketing is right for what we are looking for, we will find the products we need. Even if we make mistakes, as we all do, all the time. But if we "were to reflectively think about every purchase decision in the supermarket, it would take so long to do our shopping that we would starve to death."

Barden's work builds on the field of behavioural economics pioneered by Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman, whose brilliant book Thinking Fast and Slow demonstrates that the way people behave is not as economists would like to think.

In a chapter on optimising the path to purchase, Barden shows how good marketing can change behaviour without changing minds. This is a must read chapter for retailers interested in laying out their shops to maximise sales.

In a 2006 paper two American academics showed how they could change what people ate by changing the order that food was presented in a canteen. For example:

· Broccoli was placed at the front and consumption rose by 10 per cent.

· Apples and oranges were put in a nice bowl and sales doubled.

· The ice cream freezer lid was changed to opaque and the number of students buying ice cream dropped from 30 per cent to 14 per cent.

· Including fruit in a fixed price lunch deal led to a 71 per cent increase in consumption. Making people pay more for cookies resulted in a 55 per cent fall in consumption.

· Putting the salad bar in front of the checkout tripled sales.

· Putting the chocolate milk behind the plain milk, making it difficult to reach, led to more students choosing plain milk.

"What these examples show is not exclusive to food consumption. They illustrate a general, fundamental result of decision science: that decisions are strongly influenced not only by what is presented but to a high degree by how it is presented," writes Barden.

"Classical economic theory is unable to explain these effects because the objective value and the objective costs of the lunch item have not changed. Broccoli is broccoli, whether it is placed at the beginning or in the middle of the lunch line."

As you read, ideas will spring forth for your shop. Consider a Snickers promotion, Barden cites. A sign "buy some for your freezer" resulted in average sales of 1.4 Snickers bars. A sign "buy 18 for your freezer" increased the average sale to 2.6. Think about it!

While at times this book is heavy on the science, it is a very rewarding read. A lot of the findings are common sense. But often we fail to apply common sense when we put our own objectives ahead of our customers' objectives. Reading Decoded will help you make money.
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VINE VOICEon 11 June 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book includes some important ideas from research on marketing that I found useful eye openers. These aren't original to the author, but it's a good set of choices about the big ideas to include. The book is also readable and covers a lot of research studies. It has many colourful pictures.

On the other hand, the psychology is used uncritically, the studies are not systematically referenced (often it is impossible to work out who did the study), and the captions for the pictures are uninformative and disappointing. At times it feels like the obvious is being stated using jargon and I was particularly suspicious that 'neuro' jargon was being used to give the reasoning a gloss of scientific impressiveness.

Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping is a much better book overall, and more scientific. To some extent my hopes for 'Decoded' were influenced by it having a similar title to "The science of shopping" so perhaps my disappointment was increased by this.

Overall, good content choices but unnecessarily unscientific presentation of the science.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 5 July 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The book has a 6 chapter content:

- Decision Science: Understanding the Why of Consumer Behaviour
- The Moment of Truth: Decoding Purchase Decision
- Decoding the Interface: How the Autopilot Perceives Touchpoints
- Optimizing the Path to Purchase: The Decision Interface Makes the Difference
- Goals: The Driving Forces of Purchase Decisions
- From Positioning to Touchpoints: Bringing Value to Life

Its subtitle is "the science behind why we buy" except it doesn't fully explain what it promises.

The author starts with the Cadbury "Gorilla Drummer"/"In the Air Tonight" advertisement. Almost everybody loved it; there were even debates as to whether or not it was a man in a gorilla suit or a real gorilla and if it was a real gorilla could a gorilla drum. Yes, it received plaudits and was a critical success - BUT what the author doesn't tell us is whether or not Cadbury sold more chocolate on the back of it.

He then asks the question why did "the sequel clearly fail?" but he doesn't tell us what the sequel was (though it is mentioned later in the book, a simple reference would have been useful), and he missed out the blatantly obvious answer - if you have a massive hit then the next must either surpass the previous one or will fail by comparison.

He puts up an advertisement up without the company logo or name and says "the brand isn't present and yet we all know it" ... erm ... well no ... I didn't have a clue.

It is like this all the way through the book.

As a psychologist this should have floated my boat but on completing reading this I was left with the dirty feeling that this is merely the taster (like an advertisement) for the Decoded website and business.
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VINE VOICEon 11 August 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A well-written guide to a complex topic: why do people pay more than they know something is really worth? "Decision-science", that branch of psychology that has to take into account many factors is currently at a stage where we are starting to really understand how the brain - evolved for a World very different to our own - reacts to the World we have fashioned for ourselves. It's a fascinating introduction to a fascinating topic.

Some might feel the content is a little light and lacking on science in some areas, but it's not a peer-reviewed journal paper, but rather something much more approachable.
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VINE VOICEon 5 July 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
What interested me in this title was what really drives us to make certain purchase. What I found was a very interesting set of theories on our mental reasoning, the text of the book shows how our cognitive pathways lead us to pick out and choose between items. The research shows that environment and behavioural science is used to help uncover why we do what we do as consumers. The results that are brought to fore, are both interesting and to be frank not was expected.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I had expected this book to be heavy-going and academic, but whilst there is definite worth in the contents in terms of their suitability to be quoted and referred to in relevant academic work, it's accessible and easy to read.

I'd recommend this book especially to those with an interest in marketing/PR and retail, although it would also be relevant to psychologists.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have been in business and marketing for nearly 20 years but this book was an eye opener for me. I have studied pricing and what works but not really why. I have studied product presentation, be on a website or in store but not so thoroughly as to understand 'why' certain approaches work better than others, at least not in any great detail. This book was extremely readable. It made what could be a very heavy subject (particularly when using so much research data as examples), light and refreshing. The author begins by explaining a little about our sub-conscious reasoning or how we function on 'auto pilot' and how this works in marketing and retail. This is then applied to an additional approach of 'peripheral vision' and how both of these work together with brand recognition among other things; how certain brands stimulate certain emotive responses which affect our reasoning and therefore our choices. How quite often we make literally 'split second' decisions without consciously being aware of why.

This book made me see marketing and attracting the consumer in a totally different light. It has made me analyse TV ads, shopfloor layouts etc whereas before I was just one of those many minions that acted in the way the book described. I am sure we all aware of some of the subtleties that supermarkets and stores use to make us spend a little more, loss leaders, bulk option bargains that cost us more than we actually save etc but there is an even deeper more subtle coercion at play.

I feel like a much wiser more aware potential customer that I was before, and I will find much of this psychology of the consumer very useful in my work.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Author, Phil Barden, writes 'Decoded' from the perspective of the marketing professional, which makes good sense given his experience. As a marketer, you will find the insight into decision-science incredibly powerful, useful and guiding. But there is another group for whom this book must now be considered a first-day essential - that group is retailers.

There is so much here that, if creatively and practically applied, can improve the performance of retail businesses of all kinds: online, bricks-and-mortar, mobile, pop-up, social. The crucial insight comes from Barden's brilliant application of a theory called Kahneman's Framework, which is a model for how the brain operates in decision-making. Long and the short of it is: understand the impact on customer behaviour of Kahneman's model and it's possible to make retail sites, both on and offline, work more effectively. This is a subject very close to my heart: I'm the author of a book on retailing called 'Smart Retail' and, together with Paco Underhill's awesome 'Why We Buy', 'Decoded' will be featuring in my book's essential retailer reading list when we do the next edition. Read together, Underhill and Barden's books form a supremely powerful insight into the way people shop*.

The book itself is really well presented: lovely paper-stock, crisp printing, excellent use of colour and illustration. It's well laid out and the writing style is very accessible - especially given the deep nature of the content. Well worth the five stars.

*Full Disclosure: although I'm also an author listed in the 'marketing' section, I don't know Phil and I don't work with his publisher. My recommendation here is entirely independent.
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