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Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy [Hardcover]

Phil Barden
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
RRP: 19.99
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Book Description

1 Feb 2013

In this groundbreaking book Phil Barden reveals what decision science explains about people’s purchase behaviour, and specifically demonstrates its value to marketing. He shares the latest research on the motivations behind consumers’ choices and what happens in the human brain as buyers make their decisions. He deciphers the ‘secret codes’ of products, services and brands to explain why people buy them. And finally he shows how to apply this knowledge in day to day marketing to great effect by dramatically improving key factors such as relevance, differentiation and credibility.

  • Shows how the latest insights from the fields of Behavioural Economics, psychology and neuro–economics explain why we buy what we buy.  
  • Offers a pragmatic framework and guidelines for day–to–day marketing practice on how to employ this knowledge for more effective brand management – from strategy to implementation and NPD.
  • ·         The first book to apply Daniel Kahneman’s Nobel Prize–winning work to marketing and advertising.
  • Packed with case studies, this is a must–read for marketers, advertising professionals, web designers, R&D managers, industrial designers, graphic designers in fact anyone whose role or interest focuses on the ‘why’ behind consumer behaviour.
  • Foreword by Rory Sutherland, Executive Creative Director and Vice–Chairman, OgilvyOne London and Vice–Chairman, Ogilvy Group UK
  • Full colour throughout.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (1 Feb 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118345606
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118345603
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 16 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 19,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Phil Barden is a proven marketer with over 25 years' experience, including senior and international roles at high profile companies such as Unilever, Diageo and T-Mobile. Fascinated by the insights from decision science and by the value these can bring to marketing, he has latterly immersed himself in this new field. He is now one of very few experts to combine a practitioner's perspective with a profound knowledge of decision science, making him very much in demand among clients and conference organisers alike. In this book he bridges the gap between the world of marketing and decision science, taking the reader on his fascinating journey.

Product Description


‘…he sets out to build the most comprehensive bridge yet between decision science and the day–to–day business of marketing….‘Decoded’ shows understanding behaviour is not the enemy of creativity but a springboard to it. Creatives more than anyone need to embrace it – not make it planning or research’s responsibility or assume a new video on YouTube renders the hardwiring of our brains irrelevant. Advertising will never be a science but it’s more science than most working in it realise’  (25th January 2013, )

‘The book is rich in examples of how consumers react to brands, what influences purchasing decisions and how marketers can profit by aligning brands to subconscious preferences and behaviour patterns.’ (Irish Times, February 2013) ‘…an accessible and practical introduction to the applied marketing science of behavioural economics. Loss aversion, reframing, choice architecture: all these concepts and more are lucidly explained and illustrated with examples from experimental psychology and marketing best practice…’ (Marketing Week, March 2013) ‘Barden clearly and precisely takes on a complex discipline…a compelling look at a tricky subject.’ (FS Tech, March 2013) ‘What distinguishes this book is that it not only runs through the various ways in which human behaviour differs from that typically assumed by all finance directors (and many marketers), but it also comes packed with case studies and suggestions about what we should all do about it. This book is a must–read’ (Marketing Magazine, April 2013) ‘Barden produces very persuasive arguments to support his thesis and draws on examples  from well–known, iconic products and campaigns…He strikes an effective balance between explaining the science and demonstrating how it can be applied to advertising and marketing….easy to read …the end–of–chapter summaries are helpful in distilling and emphasising the complex message’ (B2B Marketing,, May 2013) ‘The book strength lies in the cogent and colourful manner in which Barden sets out his case.’ (Admap, May 2013) ‘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’. (, May 2013) ‘Highly readable, on almost every page this book throws out ideas that will improve the way you run your business.  It will also help you to understand when the big manufacturers have got their propositions correct for your customers.’ (Better Wholesaling, June 2013)


“When Phil first introduced me to this new and important understanding it crystallised my fears that the long–standing approach to marketing needed to be fundamentally re–evaluated. In his book, he not only persuasively and cogently argues his case but also shows how we need to think in new ways to maximise our marketing efficiency and effectiveness” — Sean Gogarty , Senior Vice President, Household Care, Unilever “A perfect mixture of deep ideas from visual and decision neuroscience, and clear pictures of why those ideas matter for marketing” — Colin Camerer , Robert Kirby Professor of Behavioral Economics, Caltech "A must read for marketing managers who wish to deepen their understanding of the vagaries of the consumer behavior. The difficult subject matter is presented in an accessible, logical and concise manner. I will certainly use this book in my graduate classes” — Leon Zurawicki. Professor of Marketing, University of Massachusetts "Marketing has, for a long time, been an uneasy tussle between art and science: Decoded gives the discipline a very healthy and eminently accessible push in the direction of the latter. All marketers should read it "— Philip Graves . Author of Consumer.ology

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buyer Beware - very useful. 6 April 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
An illuminating overview of one of the key relationships that defines our existence : that of price and cost. In this, Harden unveuils what many of us feel and unconsciously know anyway, the relationship between setting and serving - why would you pay 3 for a coffee in Starbucks when it costs about 17p to make? Here, it is clearly set in a context how human beings thing, how we are, and how we are defined by the context of our surroundings and our world. Using clear practical examples, it shows how all of us are exploited into paying more than we should dependent upon conditioning, and also, how we, as both marketers and consumers, can avoid it. Very useful in helping you be aware of how you are often tricked into spending more than you should.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for all Marketeers 1 July 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for Entrepreneurs and retailers 28 Aug 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a VERY interesting read.

Having read dozens of books on persuading people to buy 'stuff', effective website conversion and hypnotic marketing, this book adds a solid scientific, evidence-based dimension to consumer behaviour, decision making (in the retail environment), subliminal influences and the driving forces behind purchasing decisions.

Printed on beautiful paper in full colour, not only is this a delight to read but also to own (hardback copy).

If you sell 'stuff', this will be a very interesting and useful book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do you need to understand your customers? 14 Mar 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you run a business or work in sales or marketing this is an essential read. Clear and easy to get into this is an authoratitive work on consumer motivations and behaviour. Don't umm and ahhh too much about buying this it's definitely deserved of a place on your business bookshelf.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why We Buy. 15 Aug 2013
By Flickering Ember TOP 1000 REVIEWER
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How Marketers Market 11 Aug 2013
By Paul Robinson VINE VOICE
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cognitive reasoning on why we buy, or not buy 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book.
Published 5 days ago by R Chassen
4.0 out of 5 stars Really useful Book
This is really good book for professionals and novices to advertising, marketing and branding. It gives some useful real world examples of the science behind buying that is helping... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Me
5.0 out of 5 stars Very useful for all marketers
There's no shortage of great reading material on behavioural economics and its related fields - but how all that insight should be used in marketing hasn't always been clear. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Jon
4.0 out of 5 stars Just what was needed
At last, a book that tackles two of the most exciting areas of modern marketing in a practical and engaging way. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Craig Harries
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
A thoroughly researched and credible journey through both the human mind and the way in which it interprets brands. Read more
Published 13 months ago by jackofharts
4.0 out of 5 stars A book that deserves a second active reading to extract the juice
This is a book best read actively than passively

The book describes many short examples of behavioural science and Behavioural Economics (BE) and relates them to... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Explorate
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly enjoyable and informative read
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. Read more
Published 14 months ago by TheShopaholic
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