Buy-ology by Martin Lindstrom

Estimate time to read this page: 3 – 4 minutes

Edition Reviewed: Audiobook, Hardcover
Recommendation: A marginal “Read it,” but skip the audiobook. The narrator is annoying.

Cover of Buy-ology by Martin Lindstrom
Buy-ology is summary of a series of fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) tests designed to test the effectiveness of modern marketing techniques (product placement), as well as some traditional marketing axioms (sex sells). He also tackles some interesting topics like the similarities between our relationship with brands and religion, where subliminal advertising is at use in the modern marketplace, and why scents may become the logos of the future. He combines this meeting of Neuroscience and Marketing into a new field ha calls “NeuroMarketing.”

All in all, it’s an interesting read, and while I don’t agree with the conclusions he reaches on more than on occasion, the information itself is fantastic.

In fact, as I’ve been refreshing myself on the book in order to write this review, I’ve found myself getting sucked in again and reading several pages before I remember to make any notes. It’s an engaging book, to be sure.

If there’s one thing you learn from the books, it’s, “Things that don’t make sense, don’t make sense.” More than once in the book he sets up examples where something probably made sense from a numbers perspective, but not from a common-sense perspective, and they end up not working from a NeuroMarketing perspective either. To designers this stuff might seem like old hat, because we’ve been telling clients for a long time that they shouldn’t waste their money on things that don’t make innate sense. But, for as long as we’ve been telling people to show some common sense, they’ve been spending 27 Million dollars to hijack an episode of American Idol and making everyone who watches that show tune out as soon as they realize they’re going to spend the whole hour singing about the sponsor. (Ford, I’m looking at you.)

My one solid criticism of the book is that the author uses the word “I” too much. He spends a lot of time on self-congatulation, where I would prefer to get down to the nitty gritty. He also doesn’t spend a whole lot of time explaining the conclusions he reaches based on the research. He also doesn’t share any of the data with the reader, making it difficult to understand those conclusions, and hard to draw your own.

The Audiobook (from Audible) should be avoided. The annoying narrator emphasizes words strangely, clearly doesn’t understand what he’s reading, and puts emphasis on words in such a way that it’s as though he’s trying to create drama that just doesn’t exist. This is another great example of an engaging author not reading his own book, to its detriment. I became aware of the book because of an interview with the author on WHYY’s Fresh Air (Terry Gross is my homegirl). He’s an engaging guy. He’s also Danish or something, and maybe he’s a little difficult to understand, but I would rather deal with an accent than comprehension any day.

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