David Lewis is a past master at explaining why we do the things we do and in this book he tells why we shop as we do, what makes us purchase and what entices us. It's a fascinating book and one that everyone who is involved in marketing should have on their bookshelf.
What makes David Lewis's book so impressive is the balance it strikes between conveying his undoubted expertise in investigating the way consumers' brains work and his candour about the limitations of neuromarketing techniques like EEG and fMRI.
Lewis evidently understands the subject with the depth that reflects his academic background, however his written style is light and accessible and the book is peppered with real-world examples that reveal how companies capitalise on the way in which our brains work (which is appreciably different from how we think we think!).
The Brain Sell makes no secret of the fact that the author is the director of a company that conducts neuromarketing for companies all around the world. Fortunately, unlike a number of other books in this broad category, it is definitely not a veiled sales pitch for his services. Rather, it's an account of the state of the science today and how it's being used by companies to get people to spend more.
In the end The Brain Sell succeeds in being both a fascinating tour of how we think and a practical guide to anyone in business who wants to better understand his customers. Whether you're going to capitalise on this knowledge to reduce the extent that you're influenced by the emotional engineering used by brands, or make your own brand's marketing more effective, there is much to learn from this book.
For the last 30 years Dr Lewis has been helping companies use neuro-marketing to manipulate their customers. Now he tells all and they will find his revelations embarrassingly candid. We are all vulnerable to social and emotional pressures, the young particularly so. Research, much of it undertaken by Dr lewis himself, has found the means whereby advertisers can turn feelings, perceptions and subconscious reactions into sales. Subliminal advertising (which Dr Lewis exposes as largely a fake) was only the beginning; our understanding of the working of the human brain has moved on a lot since then and advertisers have been following every step of the way. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in psychology, marketing or even shopping.
Disclaimer: While I aim to be unbiased, I received a copy of this for free to review.
You’ve probably noticed that I’ve awarded The Brain Sell a rare ten out of ten – there’s a reason for that. I reserve this prestigious score for a book that changes the way that I look at the world, the sort of book that, once read, stays ingrained in your brain forever.
This is that kind of book, a magnificent foray in to what happens when science means shopping by a man who was described as “the father of neuromarketing” for his analyses of brain activity for commercial purposes. When David first started out, he was one of the first people to strap electrodes to consumers‘ heads to see how they reacted when presented with different television commercials.
And this book is full of the fruits of years of intensive testing, and anyone can benefit from it, including consumers themselves. Who doesn’t want to know how the big companies brainwash us in to buying their products? Marketers have even more to learn, whether they work in digital marketing or whether they focus on the bricks and mortar experience. Your brand is more than a logo – it’s the way your employees are trained, the colour of the walls in your stores and even the temperature that you set the air con to.
I’ll leave you with one of the many demonstrations of the power of the Brain Sell – the buildings at the entrance to Disneyland slope forward to give the illusion of depth to a visitor and to make the walk home seem shorter to people who are leaving. Just wow.